Hospitalizations in Billings rose in November due to respiratory illnesses, including COVID-19 and influenza, RiverStone Health officials said Tuesday.
In addition, Yellowstone County's COVID-19 death toll rose to 597 after RiverStone, the county's public health department, confirmed six new COVID-19-related deaths.
RiverStone officials said in a news release that the percentage of Billings hospital emergency department visits involving respiratory symptoms hit its highest level this fall, reaching more than double the rate of the same time last year.
One Yellowstone County resident died of influenza during November, the first flu death this season in Montana. More than 630 cases of flu have been confirmed in Yellowstone County so far this fall, including 363 cases in people younger than 18. As of Dec. 6, at least 35 Yellowstone County residents have been hospitalized with flu so far this season, including four children.
In addition, at least 202 Yellowstone County residents tested positive for COVID-19 last week. Billings hospitals started November with a combined total of seven COVID-19 inpatients. Two weeks later, they had 23 hospitalized COVID-19 patients.
Here are the six most recent confirmed COVID-19 deaths:
- A man in his 70s who died on Dec. 1 at a Billings hospital. He was not vaccinated.
- A man in his 70s who died on Nov. 21 at a Billings hospital. He was vaccinated.
- A man in his 80s who died on Nov. 15 at a local elder care facility. He was vaccinated.
- A man in his 90s who died on Nov. 7 at a local elder care facility. He was vaccinated.
- A man in his 70s who died on Oct. 30 at home. He was vaccinated.
- A man in his 70s who died on Sept. 22 at a Billings hospital. He was vaccinated.
The October and September death reports were relayed by the Yellowstone County Clerk and Recorder’s Office upon receiving the death certificates. All six men had underlying health conditions that put them at high risk for severe illness from COVID-19 infection.
Vaccines offer the safest scientifically proven protection against serious illness and death from flu and from COVID-19. Vaccines against flu and COVID-19 viruses are recommended for children as young as six months and everyone older. Both types of vaccines can be received at the same visit with your healthcare provider.
RiverStone Health Immunization Clinic provides vaccines for children and adults by appointment. COVID-19 vaccines remain available at no cost and RiverStone Health will work with individuals to make flu vaccine affordable. Please call 406.247.3382. Vaccines also are available at many other local clinics and pharmacies.
Good hygiene reduces your risk of being infected with and spreading respiratory viruses: frequent, thorough handwashing, covering your cough and sneeze and staying home when ill. People who are at high risk for serious respiratory illness may consider additional precautions, such as wearing a facemask in public and avoiding crowds. For more information, visit covid.riverstonehealth.org.