TAKE PRECAUTIONS AGAINST HANTAVIRUS AND PLAGUE CARRIED BY ANIMALS, POTENTIALLY DANGEROUS TO HUMANS
Hantavirus and plague are two illnesses to watch for as residents begin spring cleaning projects. Precautions are especially important while cleaning homes, sheds, cabins, barns, or other areas where mice or mouse droppings are present. Both hantavirus and plague can be dangerous and deadly diseases.
Hantavirus is caused by a virus that is carried primarily by deer mice. The infected rodents excrete the virus in their urine, droppings, and saliva. People are infected by inhaling airborne particles of the virus or by direct contact with rodents, their droppings, or nests.
- Do not sweep or vacuum mouse urine, droppings, or nests. This will cause virus particles to go into the air, where they can be breathed in.
- Open doors or windows to provide good ventilation for 30 to 60 minutes before cleaning out structures.
- To avoid stirring up dust, thoroughly wet down areas with a mixture of 1 part bleach and 10 parts water then remove material containing the mouse droppings. Wear gloves.
- Rodent-proof buildings by plugging holes or other mouse entryways.
- In rural areas, place traps for year-round rodent control or hire a professional exterminator. Don’t wait until the mouse population spikes.
- Keep indoor areas clean, especially kitchens. Store food in rodent-proof containers. This includes pet, livestock, and bird food. Properly dispose of garbage in sealed containers.
Plague is a bacteria carried by fleas that live on rodents such as mice, squirrels, chipmunks, and prairie dogs. The fleas can jump onto dogs or cats, thus infecting those animals or carrying fleas into your home.
- Avoid handling dead animals.
- Keep your pets out of rodent burrows or from playing with dead animals. This includes keeping cats from hunting potentially sick rodents.
- Avoid feeding rodents; keep food, pet food, and bird feed in rodent-proof containers.
- Talk to your veterinarian about flea control for your pets, and signs and symptoms of plague in your animals.
If you develop symptoms after a known contact with mouse droppings or a dead animal, contact your doctor and mention your recent activities that may have increased your risk of developing one of these diseases.
Mesa County Public Health has issued a no burn advisory from Monday, April 11 at 3 p.m. to Tuesday, April 12 at 6 a.m. due to expected high winds.
The National Weather Service forecast calls for strong, gusty winds, with gusts of 40-50 mph in the valleys and 50-60+ mph for the mountains.
Conditions are not appropriate for burning. Instead of burning, consider these alternatives:
- Take yard waste to the Mesa County Organic Materials composting facility at Mesa County Solid Waste, 3071 U.S. Hwy. 50. The facility accepts material for composting at no charge and is open from 8 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. Wednesday- Saturday. For more information, call (970) 263-9319.
- Please note the Mesa County Landfill is required to close during periods of high winds. If you plan on visiting the Composting Facility on a windy day, please call 241-6846 prior to coming out to ensure the facility is open.
- Compost leaves and grass clippings yourself. This can improve water retention in your yard or garden.
- Rent or borrow a wood chipper for your tree and shrub trimmings. Chipped branches can also be good mulch.
For information on current air quality conditions and to learn if it’s OK to burn, visit our website.
Community COVID-19 Response Reduction
Testing, Vaccination, Treatments, and Case Investigation Still Available
Since the first case of COVID-19 was identified in Mesa County in March 2020, public health, emergency services, and health care providers have worked in close collaboration to meet community needs and respond to the demands of a global pandemic and its impact in Mesa County.
Mesa County Public Health (MCPH), as the local public health authority, has been the agency in charge and leader of response for the past 24 months. Public Health staff responded immediately to create a dedicated community information line for questions related to COVID-19, a community testing site, once-daily vaccination clinics, mobile operations, outreach and education for local business, and infection control support for high-risk settings (such as long-term care facilities and other congregate living facilities) where this novel virus had the potential to spread very quickly.
As infection levels have decreased in Mesa County in recent weeks, careful planning for the reduction of the response has occurred. “We scaled up quickly, we had to,” recalls Jeff Kuhr, Director of Public Health for Mesa County. “Pulling back and slowly reducing the level of our response has been more methodical and planned – we’re confident the time is right,” Kuhr added.
March 26, 2022, will be the last day of operations for the Mesa County Public Health supported COVID-19 testing site at the Mesa County Fairgrounds. Free community testing through Mesa County Public Health has been provided since the beginning. The testing site initially operated at the MCPH facility, then expanded to the Mesa County Fairgrounds. At the peak of demand for testing, hundreds of samples were collected and sent for testing each day. In all, tens of thousands of tests were administered.
Testing is still available for free. Individuals with symptoms of COVID-19 can stop by the Health and Human Services Building, located at 510 29 ½ Road to pick up free at-home rapid test kits, request them via state and federal ship-to-home programs or visit a COVIDCheck Colorado site which will remain in operation in Mesa County.
Mesa County Public Health will continue to offer all COVID-19 vaccines free of charge. The community vaccination site, once located at the Grand Junction Convention Center, will continue to operate in the Mesa County Public Health Clinic. Information about appointments for individuals age 5 and older can be found on the COVID-19 Vaccine page. MCPH will continue to serve in an advisory role for pharmacy and physician office locations dozens of which will continue to dispense vaccines, free of charge. A list of locations in Mesa County to get the COVID-19 vaccine can be found on our website or by texting your zip code to 438829.
CASE INVESTIGATION AND CONTACT TRACING
MCPH continues disease surveillance for COVID-19 and dozens of other communicable diseases. Our Case Investigation team, which at one time employed more than 30 full and part-time employees has been reduced. This core team is responsible for COVID-19 as well as other illnesses that MCPH routinely tracks to ensure safety. With community spread significantly reduced, this team will focus on early detection and assistance to control outbreaks in high-risk settings.
COMMUNITY DATA REPORTING
The data dashboard on the MCPH website will be updated to include key features and be updated on weekly intervals. Since March 2020, daily summaries (including weekend updates) were shared community-wide, in the fall of 2021, weekend updates were no longer needed, but 7-day a week updates were reinstated during the Omicron surge. All case and historical data will continue to be available.
The Mesa County Public health website with dedicated COVID-19 pages and information has been a community resource since its creation in February of 2020. MCPH had the foresight to create these resources as COVID spread in other communities, preparing for possible impacts to our community weeks before the first “presumptive positive” (as it was called at the time) case in Colorado. The COVID-19 page launched with a national map and key information about the spread of the illness. The dashboard and online resources have expanded throughout the pandemic to include testing information, vaccine eligibility and appointment-making capabilities, and the presentation of real-time data for our community to make informed decisions.
WORKING TOGETHER FOR A HEALTHY COMMUNITY
MCPH has worked tirelessly to present public health recommendations and guidance to our community. As testing criteria changed and became more widely available, as Colorado moved through levels on the dial, and as eligibility for vaccine rolled out we shared the latest guidance to stay safe. The MCPH website has received more than 5 million views in the last two years and continues to be a trusted source of information related to COVID-19.
As the case numbers decrease the team at MCPH remains committed to ensuring our community has the information and resources to move beyond COVID. “We’ve worked hard to balance our community’s overall health; that includes physical and mental health as well as the economic health of our community,” Kuhr added.
We have two years behind us, but so much ahead as we work together for a healthy community.
Spring Open Burn Season begins March 1 and runs through May 31 in Mesa County and through April 30 in the City of Grand Junction. Permits for everyone in the County (including those within city limits) are issued by Mesa County Public Health (MCPH).
Residential Burn Permits cost $25 and are valid during the designated spring and fall seasons of the calendar year. All proceeds from the permits support your local fire protection district.
To minimize in-person interaction and to keep everyone safe during COVID-19 residents are encouraged to apply for a permit online at health.mesacounty.us. Permits can also be issued by visiting MCPH at 510 29 ½ Road or calling 970-248-6900.
Permit Holders should only burn when conditions are acceptable for burning. Once a permit is obtained, residents must monitor weather and other safety alerts to ensure burning happens only on days where the conditions are favorable for smoke dispersal, as well as suitable conditions for fire safety. A permit is not valid if there is a red flag warning, weather advisory, fire restriction, or an air quality alert in place.
Open burning pollutes the air and poses a fire hazard. Consider alternatives, such as composting or wood chipping, if possible. The Mesa County Organic Materials Composting Facility at Mesa County Solid Waste, 3071 U.S. Hwy 50, accepts organic materials like leaves, grass clippings, tree limbs, hay, and straw free of charge from Mesa County residents.
To view other alternatives to burning, and for additional information about burn permits, check out our Guide to Burning.
FREE RAPID AT-HOME COVID-19 TESTS DISTRIBUTED AT MCPH
Limited supplies are available during regular business hours
Mesa County Public Health (MCPH) in partnership with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) is distributing free rapid COVID-19 antigen tests. The tests are available for pick up during regular business hours at the Health and Human Services Building, located at 510 29 1/2 Road, in Grand Junction.
Community members can pick up two test kits at a time, per person, from MCPH. Each test kit contains two tests, so each person will receive four tests, free of charge. If more kits are needed, community members can collect two more kits on a subsequent visit while supplies last. Supply is limited, the number of kits distributed is subject to change and may vary across the state. Other distribution sites across the state can be found on the CDPHE website.
Tests available through the program are iHealth Labs over-the-counter (OTC) COVID-19 antigen rapid tests. The tests take 15 minutes to provide a result. MCPH will also provide information about what actions to take after your test, which are also posted online.
This added distribution supplements the existing program which allows Coloradans to sign up for free test kits to be shipped directly to them. If an individual is not able to pick up the tests at MCPH, they can receive kits by mail through CDPHE and through the Federal Government.
Community testing sites in Mesa County continue to operate with varying hours of operation. These sites provide lab results for COVID-19 infection detection in a matter of days. Locations and hours for these sites can be found on the MCPH website.
About the Test
- These rapid antigen tests received emergency use authorization by the FDA for home use by patients aged 2 years and older. Additional test details can be found here.
- Utilizes a self-collected, lower nasal swab (or adult-collected for young patients).
- Tests take 15 minutes to provide a result.
- Instructions are included in the box in English and available online in Spanish.
When to test for COVID-19
MCPH recommends a COVID-19 test if you have symptoms of COVID-19, including a cough, sore throat, congestion, or runny nose. After coming in close contact with someone who has COVID-19; a test after day five is recommended if you do not have symptoms, or at the first sign of symptoms if you develop any.
PRUEBAS RÁPIDAS DE COVID-19 EN CASA GRATUITAS DISTRIBUIDAS EN MCPH
Hay suministros limitados disponibles durante el horario de oficina habitual
Salud Pública del Condado de Mesa (MCPH) en asociación con el Departamento de Salud Pública y Medio Ambiente de Colorado (CDPHE) está distribuyendo / repartiendo pruebas rápidas gratuitas para detectar el COVID-19. Las pruebas están disponibles para recogerlas durante el horario de oficinas habitual en el Edificio de Servicios Humanos y de Salud, ubicado en 510 29 1/2 Road, en Grand Junction.
Los miembros de la comunidad pueden recoger dos kits de prueba a la vez, por persona, en MCPH. Cada kit de prueba contiene dos pruebas, por lo que cada persona recibirá cuatro pruebas sin costo. Si se necesitan más kits, los miembros de la comunidad pueden recolectar dos kits más en una visita posterior hasta agotar existencias. El suministro es limitado, la cantidad de kits distribuidos está sujeta a cambios y puede variar en todo el estado. Se pueden encontrar otros sitios de distribución en todo el estado en el sitio web de CDPHE.
Las pruebas disponibles a través del programa son pruebas rápidas de antígeno COVID-19 de venta libre (OTC) de iHealth Labs. Las pruebas tardan 15 minutos en proporcionar un resultado. MCPH también proporcionará información sobre qué acciones tomar después de su prueba, que también se publican en línea.
Esta distribución adicional complementa el programa existente que permite a los habitantes de Colorado inscribirse para recibir kits de prueba gratuitos que se les enviarán directamente. Si una persona no puede recoger las pruebas en MCPH, puede recibir los kits por correo a través de CDPHE y del Gobierno Federal.
Los sitios de prueba comunitarios en el condado de Mesa continúan trabajando con diferentes horas de operación. Estos sitios proporcionan resultados de laboratorio para la detección de infecciones por el virus del COVID-19 en cuestión de días. Las ubicaciones y los horarios de estos sitios se pueden encontrar en el sitio web de MCPH.
Acerca de la prueba
- Estas pruebas rápidas de antígenos recibieron la autorización de uso de emergencia de la FDA para uso doméstico en pacientes a partir dsde los 2 años de edad. Los detalles adicionales de la prueba se pueden encontrar aquí.
- Utiliza un hisopo nasal inferior recogido por uno mismo (o por un adulto para pacientes jóvenes).
- Las pruebas tardan 15 minutos en proporcionar un resultado.
- Las instrucciones se incluyen en la caja en inglés y están disponibles en línea en español.
Cuándo hacer la prueba de COVID-19
MCPH recomienda una prueba de COVID-19 si tiene síntomas de COVID-19, como tos, dolor de garganta, congestión o secreción nasal. Después de entrar en contacto cercano con alguien que tiene COVID-19; se recomienda una prueba después del día cinco si no tiene síntomas, o al primer signo de síntomas si desarrolla alguno.