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B.1.1.7 Variant Identified in Mesa County Resident

B.1.1.7 Variant Identified in Mesa County Resident

Through testing at the Mesa County Fairgrounds COVID-19 community sampling site, a case of the B.1.1.7 variant has been identified in a female Mesa County resident in her 30s with no travel history. The woman reported no symptoms (asymptomatic) and was not hospitalized.

The case was confirmed by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment through laboratory testing on February 4. 

Mesa County Public Health completed a case investigation with this individual and advised her of isolation instructions and quarantine measures for her close contacts. Quarantine guidance for those exposed to the variant is more strict, to minimize transmission and other potential exposures.

Statewide, COVID-19 variant cases remain relatively low. The case added from Mesa County today is one of 23 new reported variant cases, bringing the total to 39. 

Colorado was the first state to have a confirmed case of the B.1.1.7 variant in the United States; that case was in a resident of Elbert County on December 29.

This strain, sometimes referred to as the UK variant, appears to spread more easily and quickly than more common strains that cause COVID-19. There is no evidence that these variants cause more severe illness or increased risk of hospitalization or death than previous circulating strains. 

Scientists believe that the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines will be effective in providing immunity against these new variants.

Infections due to the new variants seem to have the same symptoms as the original COVID-19 strain. They can also cause asymptomatic infection, as was reported with this individual. Contacts of cases with any of the new COVID-19 variants need to quarantine for a full 14 days.

The most effective ways to prevent the spread of any COVID-19 virus remain the same: Wearing a mask in public, maintaining at least 6 feet of physical distance from others, limiting contact with anyone outside your household, washing your hands often, and staying home when you are sick.

Continue to stay up to date by visiting health.mesacounty.us.

B.1.1.7 Variant Identified in Mesa County Resident

FREE COVID-19 COMMUNITY TESTING EXPANDS

JUST ANNOUNCED: The testing site at Colorado Mesa University has opened testing slots for this weekend (11/14 & 11/15).

You must pre-register but this testing is open to all Mesa County residents.

Beginning Monday, November 16, additional COVID-19 testing will be available to Mesa County residents. The additional community testing will be done in partnership with Colorado Mesa University and COVIDCheck Colorado, a social benefit enterprise of Gary Community Investments. 

Due to increased demand, this secondary site will provide additional testing capacity as Mesa County Public Health (MCPH) works to expand operations at the Fairgrounds location.

Community Sampling Sites:

MESA COUNTY FAIRGROUNDS:  Open Tuesday – Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Turnaround time for test results is approximately 2 days. Pre-registration recommended, information can be found here

COLORADO MESA UNIVERSITY: Open Monday – Friday from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. Turnaround time for test results is 2-4 days. Pre-registration is required, information can be found here.

While testing for COVID-19 helps control the spread of illness, the actions of individuals after testing or despite results are just as important. 

  • All individuals who believe they may have been exposed to COVID-19 should quarantine and limit their exposure to others for a full 14 days, even if they have testing done and that testing is negative, as it may take up to two weeks for illness to emerge. 
  • While waiting for results, or if you aren’t able to get tested the day your symptoms develop, you should isolate yourself from others.
  • Anyone who gets tested because of symptoms or because of a possible exposure should be in isolation/quarantine while waiting for the test result. 
  • If you think you have been exposed to COVID-19, wait about seven days after the date you think you were exposed before getting tested, unless you develop symptoms. Testing immediately after exposure isn’t helpful because it may be too early in the incubation period, and there isn’t enough viral material for the test to detect.

In addition to the two community sampling sites, several other locations also offer COVID-19 testing. Call your primary care physician’s office to inquire about COVID-19 testing and fees if you prefer to be tested there.

LOCAL CHANGES TO SAFER AT HOME LEVEL ORANGE

LOCAL CHANGES TO SAFER AT HOME LEVEL ORANGE

The Mesa County Board of Public Health will approve a new Public Health Order for Safer at Home level orange, the level assigned through the State of Colorado’s dial framework. The framework system considers the number of cases in a two-week period, percent positivity, and hospitalizations. Each of these measures continues an upward trend in Mesa County. 

Because of the significant case increases, Mesa County is putting stricter measures into place regarding events and group gatherings. Indoor events, outdoor events, and public gatherings are not allowed under any circumstances. This is to make every effort to keep businesses operating and  students in classrooms, and to avoid the closures that would be required if we were to move to the Stay at Home (red) level.

Requirements under the public health order include (but are not limited to):

  • Bars that don’t serve food must be closed.
  • Restaurants and bars that serve food are limited to 25% of the facility’s normal capacity, not to exceed 50 people per room, and cannot offer live music or any other live performances.
  • Non-critical retail sales establishments and offices are limited to 25% of the facility’s normal capacity.
  • Places of worship are limited to 25% of the facility’s normal capacity, not to exceed 50 people per room.
  • Recreation, including gyms, bowling alleys, recreation centers, indoor pools, and outdoor recreation facilities, are limited to 25% of normal capacity, not to exceed 25 people per room.
  • Private gatherings are limited to 10 people from no more than 2 households. 

The order also outlines industries in which businesses certified through Mesa County’s Variance Protection Program may operate under slightly modified restrictions while continuing to prioritize customer and employee safety. 

The local public health order is anticipated to be approved tonight and will be in effect immediately.

FREE COVID-19 Community Testing Site Announces Winter Hours

FREE COVID-19 Community Testing Site Announces Winter Hours

Mesa County Public Health continues to provide a FREE COVID drive-through community testing site in Grand Junction. The testing site at the Mesa County Fairgrounds, located at 2785 US Highway 50, is open from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.

You do not have to have an appointment, but pre-registration is encouraged. Information about how to register can be found on our website. There are no identification or insurance requirements.

People with symptoms should always get tested immediately. Symptoms include:

● Fever or chills

● Cough

● Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing

● Fatigue

● Muscle or body aches

● Headache

● New loss of taste or smell

● Sore throat

● Congestion or runny nose

● Nausea or vomiting

● Diarrhea

Anyone who gets tested because of symptoms or because of a possible exposure should be in isolation/quarantine while waiting for the test result. All individuals who believe they may have been exposed to COVID-19 should quarantine and limit their exposure to others for a full 14 days, even if they have testing done and that testing is negative.

While testing is an important tool in the COVID-19 response, we ask all Mesa County residents to take action and avoid crowds, avoid closed-in spaces, avoid close contact with other people, wear a face cloth covering, and stay home if you are sick.

Continue to stay up to date by visiting health.mesacounty.us

Mesa County Moves to ‘Cautious’ on the Dial

Mesa County Moves to ‘Cautious’ on the Dial

Dramatic daily increases in COVID-19 case counts have resulted in Mesa County moving down one level on the State of Colorado’s COVID-19 dial. Mesa County is now in the cautious, or blue, level. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) and the Governor’s office require this action based on the state’s dial framework, which considers the number of cases in a two-week period, percent positivity, and hospitalizations, all of which are trending upward. A new public health order has been approved by the Mesa County Board of Public Health.

“Mesa County’s positive cases have significantly increased over the past month. Most of this is due to informal gatherings between friends and family, and people showing up at work and other places while sick, in some instances resulting in sizable outbreaks,” Jeff Kuhr, Mesa County Public Health Executive Director, said. Each member of our community can help reduce transmission of the virus that causes COVID-19. “Avoid crowds, confined spaces, and close contact,” Kuhr added.

The new level designation has stricter requirements and will be in effect for a minimum of two weeks. If case counts return to levels allowed under Protect our Neighbors, Mesa County is eligible to return to that level without reapplying. Under the cautious (blue) level capacity limits remain at 50% for most sectors; group sizes are reduced to a maximum of 175. Full guidance by industry can be found on the MCPH website

“It is imperative that we remain diligent in our efforts to help protect each other from the ongoing public health pandemic,” said Chris Thomas, President and CEO for Community Hospital. Hospital capacity is constantly monitored by Mesa County Public Health, and while not currently strained, there has been an increase in more severe illness. 

“We have seen a tremendous uptick in COVID hospitalizations, which is very concerning. We continue to work closely with the other hospitals and Mesa County Public Health as we remain ready to respond to COVID surges. Currently our supplies are sufficient but if the present trajectory continues, our ability to adequately respond could be compromised. With flu season upon us, we absolutely need to continue to practice social distancing, handwashing and wearing masks. We urge all residents to receive a flu vaccine if they haven’t already done so. We know we can navigate this successfully but it is going to take everyone doing their part. We simply cannot afford to let our guard down,” added Thomas.

 

A Community Effort

As part of the certification process for Protect Our Neighbors, MCPH proved to the State that strong community partnerships are in place. These partnerships are essential to our community’s ability to respond to COVID-19. Shifts on the dial have implications across all sectors of our community and economy, and we have engaged key stakeholders to ensure the new level is understood and implemented. Our partners acknowledge it’s what our community needs right now. 

“Good health for all residents of Mesa County is a top priority,” said Scott McInnis, Chairman of the Board of Mesa County Commissioners. “We care about you and your well-being and know these are challenging times. Two steps forward and one step back is still moving in the right direction,” McInnis added, urging residents to not see the move as anything other than motivation to put Mesa County back on track. 

The shift on the dial also includes an approved variance for businesses that have received a 5-star rating under the Variance Protection Program. The program, launched in collaboration with the Grand Junction Area of Chamber of Commerce, is an initiative to feature local business efforts to implement safe practices related to COVID-19. 

“The program has shown additional value beyond the original vision of assisting businesses to market to cautious consumers and reassure employees that best health and safety procedures are being followed,” said Diane Schwenke, President and CEO of the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce. “State recognition of the program is also rewarding these businesses with additional freedoms that were allowed under our previous variance. This is a huge incentive for businesses to do the right thing.”

Businesses interested in the Variance Protection Program can fill out a form on the Mesa County Public Health website.