Senator Steve Daines meets with Billings health leaders after surge of COVID-19 cases in Yellowstone County

BILLINGS, Mont. – The number of active cases in Yellowstone County prompted Senator Steve Daines to host a virtual roundtable with county medical leaders.

According to Mayor Bill Cole, Yellowstone County is the epicenter for coronavirus, with 16 out of the 45 new cases reported Sunday coming out of Yellowstone County.

City health leaders met with Senator Steve Daines using Zoom, to discuss what this surge means for the county and hospitals.

CEO for RiverStone Health, John Felton, says an increase of contact activities like weddings and barbecues may be contributing to the surge of cases.

“I get a lot of questions like, ‘is this because we’re doing a lot of surveillance testing?’, yes, we are doing a lot of testing, but most of the cases we’re getting are symptomatic people, they are ill people who are seeking health care and are being tested as a result.”, said Felton.

Felton says it is still important for the public to be wearing their PPE when necessary, especially while around others.

Billings Clinic CEO, Scott Ellner, spoke about his concerns over the amount of testing in hospitals.

Ellner says without enough testing facilities, they will be unable to perform surgeries.

Ty Elkin, Executive Director for St. Vincent Healthcare Foundation, also spoke out about his concerns for being able to perform elective surgeries, “We’re hopeful that we can continue with those procedures, but in order to do so, we need to make sure our PPE levels and our visitor restrictions and masking in our community are all on the top of our minds.”, said Elkin.

Each health leader had their own unique input on how to navigate this pandemic, but something they all agree on is the importance of keeping hospitals stocked with PPE, and modeling good behavior by wearing masks while in public.