Today we identified a cluster of four (4) staff and two (2) residents who tested positive for COVID-19 in the same care unit. These positive cases were a result of State lab and rapid point-of-care tests conducted on residents and all staff of St. John’s United. We have isolated these positive residents and staff and will continue aggressive testing to monitor and best manage the situation. Both residents are being well cared for and are doing well. The St. John’s United family is praying for speedy recoveries for all.

We continue to see community spread of COVID-19, evident in Yellowstone County’s 20% testing positivity rate. As such, the impact to our staff and residents is being felt at levels not seen before at St. John’s United. From the beginning of this pandemic, 61 of 900 staff have had COVID-19 and 18 of 600 patients and residents. Today there are four residents in isolation among St. John’s 21 care units. “Because of St. John’s infection control protocols, the prevalence within SJU communities continues to be low, however, we are watching our numbers grow as we experience continued increase in community spread,” states David Trost, President and CEO.

The incident command team of St. John’s United is asking that all citizens do their part: wear a mask, adhere to social distancing, wash your hands and stay home if you’re ill. For over six months care centers have been required to implement local and federally imposed visitation restrictions. If everyone does their part, all would be safer, fewer healthcare workers would be removed from doing their jobs, and visitation could occur. “Today, the Billings community lifts up healthcare workers. The work of St. John’s heroes amaze me each day,” expresses Libby Markus, Incident Commander and Director of Nursing. While celebrated for their tremendous efforts, we cannot rely on our healthcare workers to curve this pandemic.

As a reminder, St. John’s United has implemented a number of protections to mitigate the threat of COVID-19. These actions include:

• Restriction on visitation.

• Advance screening and collecting contact information on all individuals entering our buildings.

• Enhanced PPE use, including eye protection and gowns.

• Limiting staff access to essential work areas.

• Quarantining and testing new admissions.

• Adapting group activities and dining based on prevalence of COVID-19.

• Closely monitoring residents and staff for symptoms associated with COVID-19.

• Wearing Masks, Watching Distance and Washing Hands over and over again.

Stay safe out there, Billings. We will only get through this together.