Local Public Health Alert: COVID-19 infection rates remain high in Mesa County.  Click here to learn more.

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Air Quality Advisory Extended Until Monday October 5

Air Quality Advisory Extended Until Monday October 5

This advisory has been extended through Monday, September 5 at 10 a.m.

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Mesa County Public Health (MCPH) has issued an Air Quality Advisory through Sunday, October 4, at 10 a.m. Hazy conditions are expected due to wildfire smoke.

When air quality is in the moderate (yellow) range there is an increased risk for people in sensitive groups, including people with heart or lung disease, older adults, and young children. If visibility is less than five miles due to smoke, the smoke has reached levels that are unhealthy.

Residents are advised to take the following precautions to stay healthy:

  • Avoid heavy outdoor exertion such as running or other forms of exercise.
  • Keep your indoor air clean and stay inside as much as possible.
  • Avoid activities that increase indoor pollution. You want to keep your indoor air as clean as possible.
    • Do not vacuum. It stirs up dust in your home.
    • Do not smoke tobacco in your home.
    • Do not burn candles, fireplaces or gas stoves.
  • Contact your health care provider if you’re concerned about your health.

Due to current fire restrictions, the Fall Open Burn Season which typically begins September 1 has been temporarily suspended. Mesa County Public Health (MCPH) is not issuing burn permits, and open burning is not allowed. Agricultural burning is only allowed with a special permit from the Mesa County Sheriff’s Office.

For more information on air quality conditions and alerts, including real-time readings through a community-sourced monitoring system called Purple Air, visit our air quality page.

COVID-19 Community Sampling Site Temporary Hours

COVID-19 Community Sampling Site Temporary Hours

The Community Sampling Site for COVID-19 testing, located at the Mesa County Fairgrounds, is operating with temporarily modified hours through Saturday, October 10.   

Free, drive-up testing is available without an appointment at the Fairgrounds grandstand area during the following times: 

  • Monday 10/5 – Wednesday 10/7: 8 a.m. – 4 p.m.
  • Thursday 10/8 and Friday 10/9: 8 a.m. – 2 p.m.

Testing will not be available on Saturday, 10/3; Saturday, 10/10; or Monday, 10/12. Regular operations will resume on Tuesday, October 13: 

  • Tuesday – Saturday, 8 a.m. – 3 p.m. (except holidays)

Individuals who have been around someone with COVID-19 should be tested, even those who are not experiencing symptoms. Testing is free for Mesa County residents and health insurance is not required. Although no appointment is necessary, pre-registration will speed up the process once you arrive. Register online at the Mako Medical website.  

Results are processed through Mako Medical. Current turnaround time is typically two to four days, from the time the sample is received at the lab. Additional testing information is available on the Mesa County Public Health website.

MCPH Has Flu Vaccine Available

MCPH Has Flu Vaccine Available

Mesa County Public Health (MCPH) has flu vaccine available and is currently scheduling appointments. The best way to protect yourself from the flu this fall and winter is to get vaccinated. It’s a safe and effective way to keep yourself and your loved ones safe and healthy. 

Influenza, or the flu, is a contagious respiratory illness characterized by fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, fatigue, body aches and headache. To avoid getting the flu, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends the seasonal flu vaccine for individuals ages 6 months and older. Annual flu shots are necessary to protect against seasonal strains of the flu.

Symptoms of COVID-19 and flu are very similar. Older populations as well as those with underlying conditions are more susceptible to COVID-19 and the flu, but the flu also hits children particularly hard. There were three pediatric deaths in Colorado during the 2019-2020 flu season, and 77 hospitalizations in residents of all ages Mesa County. 

Get Vaccinated Every Year

  • Every year the flu changes, so you need an updated vaccine to ensure your body develops immunity to the most recent strain of the virus. 
  • After the vaccination, it takes approximately two weeks for the body to develop an immune response. That’s why Mesa County Public Health recommends residents get immunized now.

Mesa County Public Health is hosting two drive thru flu clinics during the month of October, all residents are welcome. Don’t let cost be a barrier, we have options for those who do not have insurance.

What:   Drive Thru Flu Clinic

When:  October 17, 9 a.m. – 3 p.m.

 October 24, 9 a.m. – 3 p.m.

Where: Mesa County Public Health

              510 29 ½ Road

The MCPH Clinic offers flu vaccination during regular business hours, Monday through Thursday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Friday from 8 a.m. to noon. We urge all residents who want to get a flu vaccine to come to a flu clinic, or call 970-248-6900 to make an appointment.

COVID-19 Stories: The Shame Game

COVID-19 Stories: The Shame Game

As the season changes and weather begins to cool, we are seeing an increase in COVID-19 cases in Mesa County. We’re working hard to reverse this course with your help, but it’s not the only trend we want to buck. Public shaming has taken center stage during the pandemic, and our community is not immune. 

At Mesa County Public Health, it’s our job to keep you informed of the latest statewide COVID-19 guidance, establish local public health orders, and work with you to keep Mesa County healthy. We trust that each resident will be responsible with the information at their disposal to keep themselves and others safe and healthy as well.

As health guidance such as social distancing, mask wearing, and restricted traveling are widely promoted across the nation, opinions vary both in favor and opposed. However, when those opinions become weapons to bully others in the form of shaming, our community is harmed.

The latest trend has been dubbed “COVID Shaming.” Once someone has received the dreaded news that they are COVID-19 positive, many people feel detached— perhaps no longer being invited to small social gatherings, unable to participate in sports, and relegated to a separate room in the house. Social media, however, takes it a step further, allowing users to publicly criticize and humiliate others for decisions made, opinions held, and actions taken that, in the context of a COVID-19 diagnosis, are viewed by some as condemnable. 

Everything we currently know about the virus tells us that once the symptoms have passed and the prescribed quarantine is over, the person who fell ill can re-enter normal, everyday activities without getting someone else sick. 

Mask shaming is also rampant, sometimes even rising to the level of bullying – both online and in person. Coloradans are required to wear masks in public per the Governor’s executive order, and there’s sound science behind it. Some individuals are unable to wear one for health reasons, others err on the safe side and wear a mask even in situations where they’re not required. Jumping to conclusions or judgment about why someone is or is not wearing a mask is unlikely to have any useful outcome. 

Shaming and bullying divide our community, and increase conflict and animosity in a time when tensions are already running high. COVID-19 has caused strain, but so do shaming and bullying. Treat others the way you want to be treated. Let’s start right here in Mesa County and buck the COVID-shaming trend.

COVID-19 Stories: The Shame Game

COVID-19 Stories: Supporting our Students and Schools This Fall 

Just about every day, we are witnessing schools around the country pivot, stretch, and change the way they operate in response to COVID-19. Schools and school districts, including in Mesa County, are under immense pressure to avoid a COVID-19 outbreak while educating our children this fall and combating the effects of the spring pandemic slide. It’s a big lift to say the least, but community support and volunteer manpower (though not in the ways you may traditionally think about it) can help alleviate the impacts.

In School District 51, some educators have chosen to teach online, and many more families than anticipated have embraced the remote learning option. When District 51 surveyed parents and guardians in July, 5% indicated they would enroll their students in remote learning. Now that school has started, somewhere around 14% of students have opted for online learning . This new dynamic has left District 51, like other districts across the nation, in uncharted waters as they move quickly to reassign teachers, mobilize substitutes, and adapt once again. 

Children’s education is foundational to their success as adults. According to Public School Review, third grade reading levels correlate with high school graduation rates. After third grade, students transition from “learning to read” to “reading to learn,” and if they cannot comprehend the content, learning can be much more difficult. When this is the case, extra efforts to help kids get on track are essential to their long-term success. 

While we know our schools and teachers are doing the best they can, we also know that our children’s education is affected by all of the changes COVID-19 has brought to our lives. Community support – from parents, retired people, college students, and others – always has an impact on student success. Although current health and safety considerations may change what that support looks like, the challenges of COVID-19 make it more critical than ever. 

Here are some ideas for how you can jump in and make a difference in short order. If you can’t help out, consider passing this on to a friend or family member who might be able to: 

Substitute Teach

Substitute teachers are always in demand, but according to District 51 spokesperson Catherine Foster-Gruber, “We need substitutes now more than ever to ensure that there are no learning disruptions if a teacher falls ill.” The qualifications and application process are listed online here. Background checks are required. 

Volunteer Online

While in-person volunteer opportunities are limited in our public schools, there is still a need for volunteers. District 51 has made changes because of this reality and is now assigning online volunteers to help with tutoring, reading, and storytelling. To sign up or learn more, contact April Hart with District 51’s Volunteer Office. She can be reached at April.Hart@d51schools.org or 970-254-5114 ext. 11112. If you’d like to volunteer outside of District 51, contact the school or school district you are interested in to inquire about volunteer opportunities.

Tutor 

The Riverside Educational Center (REC) is a nonprofit organization providing after school tutoring and enrichment programs to K-12 students in District 51. At the onset of COVID-19, they pivoted quickly to offer online options to their students through remote tutoring, homework help, and enrichment videos delivered to students’ homes. Today, they are back to in-person tutoring and after school programs in ten schools across the valley, serving up to 50 students at each location.  

According to Joy Hudak, REC’s executive director, “We have several positions available and would love to have anyone familiar with our mission and interested in helping our efforts apply.” To learn more about REC’s mission and inquire about available tutoring positions, visit their website.  REC is also currently enrolling students who need additional support. If you know of a student who could benefit from tutoring, homework help, or enrichment activities, contact REC at 970-462-2901. 

Contribute Financially

Schools and youth-serving organizations appreciate – and count on – financial contributions. Consider giving to the District 51 Foundation, REC, or another local organization that supports young people in our community.