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Billings medical experts fear Covid-19 round two is on the way

INVOICING – What a difference a year makes in a pandemic. Or not?

In many ways, this statement about Covid-19 applies, as a majority of the Montana population no longer wears a mask when entering a public place, and many people seem to walk around in their daily lives as they did before Covid. Just after the Fourth of July celebration in 2020, Covid-19 cases began to pick up speed.

Today, local health experts fear that round two is on the way.

Even after five years at the Billings Clinic ICU, nurse practitioner Lynn Gordy̵

7;s voice breaks when she talks about the calls she’s had to make over the past year and a half.

“Without a doubt, the hardest part has been making phone calls to family members (who have never been allowed to be in the hospital) to tell them that their family members are dying,” she said.

It’s part of her job that has fallen since the peak in November. But as of late, it sees an uptick.

“I do it a little less often,” Gordy said, “but I still do. And phone calls are not getting any easier. ”

Related: COVID-19 deaths in Yellowstone County reach 278

Recent data show that Billings hospitals have, on average, more than 21 Covid-19 patients a day, and approx. one third of these patients are in intensive care. Just two weeks ago, there were 10 Covid patients in the clinic’s ICU.

“They are not random ICU patients. These are really sick people who come and stay for a long time and have poor results, ”Gordy said.

Gordy added that patients come in younger and get sicker, faster. “We’ve varied in the last few weeks anywhere from 30 to 70, you know, not all 70- and 80-year-olds die.”

Six Yellowstone County residents died in June, and so far in July, three more have died. Yellowstone County Health Officer John Felton says that with only 45% of the vaccinated eligible residents, the county now has an average of 15 to 16 new positive cases each day.

“When you think about it, 16 cases a day in a society our size doesn’t seem like many,” Felton said, “but then you start doing the math. So 16 cases a day is 100 cases a week is 5,000 cases a year, this thing is still here. It has not gone anywhere. ”

In fact, Felton said the Covid-19 variants are just getting stronger and will continue to mutate as long as residents refuse to vaccinate.

Of the 33 Delta variant cases discovered in Montana, 14 are in Yellowstone County. “It simply came to our notice then. People have gotten really sick from it. It seems that for all variants, the current vaccines do a good job of protecting against hospitalization and death from serious illness. Not 100%, but better determined than not being vaccinated. ”

Gordy and her team are asking people to get their vaccine. She said she understands the mistrust and hesitation, but she also encourages people to reach out to their primary health care provider or someone they trust in the health care system.

“Get real knowledge about that vaccine,” she said, “and if you’m at the fence … do it.”

Knowing that Q2 was going to come for an interview, Gordy asked his team.

“I asked them, what would they say if they had a microphone and they could talk to all the citizens of Billings? What would they say? And sounding was the answer: you get your vaccine. Two, it’s real, and it’s still here and hard. This is difficult, ”she said.

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