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Yellowstone County will ramp up remote testing for COVID-19

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Posted at 4:44 PM, Mar 14, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-14 19:37:05-04

BILLINGS — The Yellowstone County Unifield Health Command will begin offering remote site testing for the COVID-19 virus on Monday, officials announced at a press conference Saturday.

John Felton announced at a press conference Saturday remote testing will take place at both St. Vincent Healthcare and Billings Clinic beginning Monday. He emphasized you must have a physician's order to get the test.

The site at Billings Clinic will be located on the west side of the hospital campus inside the former dialysis building.

At St. Vincent, the test site will be located inside a tent in parking parking lot M near North 27th street and 11th Avenue North.

Yellowstone County Commissioners have approved using the Sandstone building at MetraPark for a remote testing site at a later date.

Dr. Neil Ku, an infectious disease physician from Billings Clinic, updated information on the woman who tested positive for COVID-19 from Yellowstone County. She is in her 50's and it's believed she acquired the virus through international travel.

She originally presented to the Billings Clinic Emergency Room, was triaged, and was sent to home isolation. She found out the positive test result within a day.

Felton said at this time there is no intention to close K-12 schools in Billings. He said until there is a positive case associated with a student, member of the faculty, or someone with frequent visits inside the school, it's important to keep schools open.

The Unified Health Command issued new guidance Saturday limiting smaller community events such as little league teams, dance classes, concerts and traveling sports teams.

"The first concern we have is travel, and secondarily when people come to watch those events … there’s a high risk of vulnerable people being in that setting. Our recommendation is that those activities be canceled. That we simply not do those types of things this year to reduce the risk of exposure," Felton said.

The Unified Health Command (UHC) that includes Billings Clinic, St. Vincent Healthcare, RiverStone Health and Yellowstone County Disaster and Emergency Services) has several hotline numbers in place for people who have medical questions:

- Billings Clinic - 406-255-8400
- St. Vincent - 406-237-8775
- RiverStone Health - 406-651-6415