Coronavirus COVID-19 computer generated image.
Yellowstone County health officials are hoping the Federal Drug Administration’s full approval of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine will help slow the spread of the infection as deaths and cases rise in the county and hospitals fill up.
In a press release on Monday, Riverstone Health reported that three people had died from a COVID-19 related illness during the weekend. Additionally, the health department said hospitals are dealing with a high volume of COVID-19 patients. Those who died include a fully vaccinated man in his 70s with underlying health conditions and two unvaccinated women, one in her 60s and one in her 70s, with underlying health conditions, according to the release. On Friday, Gallatin County recorded its first COVID-19-related death since May.
“The current COVID-19 surge in Yellowstone County has filled Billings Clinic and St. Vincent Healthcare with more pandemic patients than they have seen since December 2020. On Monday, the Billings hospitals together had 81 COVID-19 patients hospitalized, including 19 in ICU and 12 on ventilators. One week earlier, the total number of COVID-19 hospital inpatients was 58,” the release read.
The county recorded 77 new cases Monday, bringing its active case total to 497.
As a whole, the state reported 652 new cases on Monday, with 3,784 active cases and 220 active hospitalizations. The state also reached a vaccination milestone on Monday as it reported that 50 percent of the state’s eligible population is fully vaccinated.
John Felton, Yellowstone County health officer and RiverStone Health CEO, said he hopes the wholly approved vaccine will help get more Yellowstone County residents vaccinated.
“Many unvaccinated Yellowstone County residents have said they are waiting for the COVID-19 vaccine to receive full, regular FDA approval, so they need to wait no longer,” he said in the release. “We should expect a large increase in demand as people waiting for approval join those who have decided to do their part to protect our community through vaccination. Vaccination is the safest, most effective way to curtail the current outbreak in Yellowstone County as well as to keep our schools and businesses open.”
As the highly contagious delta variant continues to spread across the state, health officials have ramped up their efforts to encourage people to get vaccinated and wear masks indoors.
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