Yellowstone County is rescinding their local COVID-19 orders, according to their Health Officer John Felton. The announcement was made at a press conference in Billings on Thursday.

The county will still be under the current state mandates issued by former Governor Steve Bullock back on November 17th. The restrictions include restaurants and bars are reduced to 50% capacity, and masks are ordered to be worn while in public.

Fenton was quoted in the Billings Gazette as saying the decision to rescind the local orders and restrictions "out of respect for Gov. Gianforte's authority to manage the pandemic according to his policies."

New Montana Governor Greg Gianforte has said that he plans on rescinding Bullock's mask mandate, possibly as soon as the next two weeks. Gianforte, at a press conference on Tuesday, stated that he wanted the most vulnerable vaccinated and the Legislature to pass a law that would protect local businesses and churches from liabilities.

Yellowstone County had been one of the hotbeds in the state when it came to COVID-19, although, like most of the rest of the state, they saw a decrease in COVID cases starting in mid-November and lasting until the Holidays. The latest COVID-19 data from the Yellowstone County Health Department shows:

  • The 7-Day rolling average at 13.15. That's a rise from 8.45 the week before
  • Billings hospitals report 96 available beds, 69 beds occupied with COVID-19 patients, and 470 beds occupied with non-COVID-19 patients (data from City of Billings)
  • 165 COVID-19 deaths - the most in the state. Gallatin County currently has 39 deaths.

Gallatin County Health Officer Matt Kelley said told us this about Yellowstone County's action,

In Gallatin County, local emergency health rules have been considered and approved by the Gallatin City-County Board of Health, which has a statutory duty to take actions to prevent the spread of communicable disease. Our intention will be to continue to use that process, which provides opportunity for public input to be considered by a board of community members who are duty-bound to make decisions to protect the public health. That effort will be informed by public input, the best scientific evidence available, and our local epidemiological situation.

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