BILLINGS - The top administrators of Billings Clinic and St. Vincent Healthcare have penned a joint letter in support of this week's new health restrictions aimed at slowing the spread of COVID-19 in Yellowstone County.
Read the letter from Dr. Scott Ellner, Billings Clinic CEO, and Steve Loveless, president of St. Vincent Healthcare, below:
These are challenging times and we are all feeling the strain of COVID-19. We have watched the members of our Unified Health Command work tirelessly alongside each other to provide the best response to protect the health and well-being of our community. This is why it is so important to publicly voice our support of the recent health directives put in place as a result of the relentless, high volume of COVID-19 cases in Yellowstone County.
Since February, St. Vincent Healthcare and Billings Clinic have been closely monitoring and managing our resources and staffing to address this pandemic. Right now, we are stretched. We are bringing in help from health care workers from across the country, and we continue to take the steps necessary to care for more patients than we ever imagined pre-COVID.
However, we want to reinforce that St. Vincent Healthcare and Billings Clinic are committed to providing safe, high quality care to the communities we serve. We will continue to care for the increasing number of COVID-19 patients, which continues to climb at an alarming rate, while also supporting the other health care needs of the communities we serve. Health care workers are working incredibly hard and have risen to the challenge at every turn, but we need the help of the community.
Our ask remains the same. Be proactive in helping to stop the spread of COVID-19 by following public health orders, wearing your mask, washing your hands, practicing social distancing and avoiding crowds and gatherings whenever possible. It’s a meaningful way to slow the spread while showing genuine support for our health care workers. We need everybody to do your part in order to protect your loved ones and protect yourselves.
This week, Yellowstone County Health Officer John Felton ordered all places of assembly, including retail stores, bars, casinos, churches, gym, salons and others, must close at 10 p.m. and reopen no earlier than 4 a.m.
All of those places must operate at 50 percent capacity, down from current capacity levels of 75 percent. Exceptions include healthcare organizations and pharmacies, although pharmacies are only allowed to sell prescriptions past closing time. Restaurants may provide takeout and drive-through food after 10 p.m. also.
Felton also extended his order limiting all indoor and outdoor gatherings to 25 people through the end of the year.
The orders limiting capacity and gathering sizes mostly mirror the restrictions ordered by Gov. Steve Bullock Tuesday.