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The latest news about the novel coronavirus and COVID-19 in Montana.

Nearly 20,000 Fully Immunized Against COVID-19 In Yellowstone County

 John Felton speaks to press in Billings on March 10, 2021
Kayla Desroches
John Felton speaks to press in Billings on March 10, 2021

Yellowstone County’s health officer says vaccine rollout is progressing in the state’s most populous region.

At a press conference Wednesday morning, Yellowstone County health officer John Felton said residents in Phase 1B who received their first vaccine doses at the centralized vaccination clinic in Billings starting mid-February are this week beginning to receive their second doses.

Felton says Yellowstone County also recently received about a thousand doses of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine, which provides immunity in a single dose instead of two.

“We’re still working to get those out to those high-priority sites. I don’t believe at this point any of those vaccines have actually been administered, but we’re working to get those to high risk populations like seniors in senior living centers and shelters and places like that,” Felton said.

As of Mar. 8, Yellowstone residents eligible for the vaccine include people in a new category of Phase 1B+, which applies to people older than 60 years of age and people more than 16 years of age with additional medical conditions that create a higher risk of COVID-19 complications.

Felton says to date, roughly 19,400 county residents are fully immunized. That’s up from about 7,500 in mid-February.

Felton says the number of cases, hospitalizations and deaths in the county in February are nearly ten times higher than last June. But he adds those numbers are a fraction of the peak in November.

“This is the lowest number we’ve seen in a long, long time,” Felton said.

Copyright 2021 Yellowstone Public Radio

Kayla Desroches reports for Yellowstone Public Radio in Billings. She was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, and stayed in the city for college, where she hosted a radio show that featured serialized dramas like the Shadow and Suspense. In her pathway to full employment, she interned at WNYC in New York City and KTOO in Juneau, Alaska. She then spent a few years on the island of Kodiak, Alaska, where she transitioned from reporter to news director before moving to Montana.
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