Watch: Yellowstone County health officer wants COVID safety plans from schools for fall sports

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Posted at 2:33 PM, Aug 04, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-04 19:48:16-04

Yellowstone County health officials want a COVID-19 safety proposal for fall sports that will cover all schools.

County Health Director John Felton said Tuesday at a news conference he is working with schools of all sizes to build a plan that will cover participants and spectators. He said the plan should be ready for review by schools in a few days and for the public by the start of the season. He said no option eliminates risk.

Felton also reviewed the coronavirus data from July in Yellowstone County, which he called “rough." The county logged steep increases, going from 175 cases at the start of the month to 1,002 by the end of the month. The COVID-19 related death total rose from four to 26. Felton said there are currently 52 people hospitalized in Billings, including nine in ICU.

Looking forward, Felton said the outlook for cases in August is up to people’s behavior. He said it’s fuzzy now but can be dramatically different than July if people wear masks and practice social distancing.

Felton addressed the start of schools in three weeks in the county. He said everyone will need to try and mitigate risks as best possible.

“We will have cases in schools," said Felton. “We will need to do everything we can to stop the spread."

RiverStone Health continues to hire staff to help with contact tracing. As of Tuesday, 37 people are working on tracing. The average number of contacts they have to make is three, but it's gone as high as 50 people, Felton said.

Watch Felton's full news conference below: