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Yellowstone County health officer extends COVID-19 order, warns about virus spread during the holidays

Posted at 11:35 AM, Dec 10, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-10 19:47:30-05

BILLINGS - Yellowstone County Health Officer John Felton said Thursday the number of Covid-19 cases per 100,000 has dropped in the last few weeks, but that number remains dangerously high.

Felton announced in a press conference that he will extend his Nov. 19 health order through Jan. 31, 2021. He said this will assist in the transition into the new year and into the new Gov.-Elect Greg Gianforte administration.

Those rules include fewer than 25 people gathering in one location, all places of assembly must remain at 50% occupancy and must close by 10 p.m. each night. Drive-thru eating establishments can remain open after 10 p.m., but no patrons are allowed in the businesses.

RELATED: Yellowstone County health officer issues new COVID orders, mostly mirroring state directives

County health officials saw a jump in Covid-19 cases Thursday to 147, including two more deaths. The previous days were at 71 and 81 new cases. Felton said the farther we get from Thanksgiving the safer we are, but he’s concerned about going into the next portion of the holiday season.

He said St. Vincent Healthcare and Billings Clinic expect to receive a first round of vaccines as early as next week, but it will be less than 2,000 doses for front-line medical workers.

Felton also announced a new partnership to help community members with the feelings of loss, grief and worry that the pandemic has created. Saying those feelings are often heightened during the holiday season. RiverStone has partnered with How Right Now HowRightNow.org, a CDC Foundation initiative that offers information and support.

Other free mental health resources for Montanans include:

  • The Montana Crisis Recovery hotline. Call 877.503.0833 to receive free, confidential counseling services from trained crisis counselors from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. weekdays.
  • The Crisis Text Line is available 24/7 by texting MT to 741 741.
  • The Montana Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24/7 at 800.273.TALK (8255).
  • The Warmline is available 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. weekdays and noon till 9 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday at 877.688.3377.

Watch the full press conference below:

Yellowstone County COVID-19 Press Conference 12-10-20