Mesa County Public Health (MCPH) continues to respond to an elevated number of COVID-19 cases and is seeing increased community transmission with variant strains. The number of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 has nearly doubled in recent weeks. On April 13 there were three (3) ICU patients and seven hospitalized with COVID-19 in Mesa County. One month later, on May 13, hospitals reported eight (8) COVID-19 patients in ICU, and 25 total confirmed hospitalizations.

Western Colorado is a medical hub, with severe cases transported to emergency departments and trauma centers in Mesa County. “This is the season with increased outdoor activity, traditionally our hospitals fill up this time of year due to injuries and trauma related to those activities,” Community Hospital Chief Medical Officer, Thomas Tobin, MD said. Dr. Andrew Jones, Vice President and Chief Medical Officer, St. Mary’s Medical Center explained, “the additional patients due to COVID-19 are putting a strain on the system. I encourage all eligible individuals to receive the COVID-19 vaccine as this effectively prevents most illness and nearly all serious disease.” 

Mesa County has been successful in slowing and containing COVID-19 in our community throughout the pandemic, these variants create an urgent need to continue the measures to protect our community, our economy, and our hospitals. 

“We are seeing an increase in COVID 19 positivity rates and hospitalization rates as well as increasing numbers of staff testing positive for COVID 19. Like our community hospital partners, these dynamics are impacting and putting stress on our emergency room resources, system, and staffing levels,” VA Western Colorado Health Care System Executive Director, Richard Salgueiro, said.

Measures to slow the spread of COVID-19 and other illnesses continue to be important. “We recognize more than a year into this pandemic, our community is tired of public health recommendations,” Jeff Kuhr, Executive Director of Mesa County Public Health shared. “Now that COVID-19 vaccines are readily available there is a clear path to end this pandemic, choosing to get a COVID-19 vaccine is an effective way to protect yourself and your community,” Kuhr added. 

Case investigation and contact tracing are instrumental to MCPH’s efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19 in our community. Case investigation has shown transmission occurs most frequently in settings where larger groups gather; such as social events, milestone celebrations, or events where multiple households interact. “Think about what we’ve learned over the last year and take precautions to prevent the spread,” Kuhr said. “Our residents know what to do and how to stay safe, but they need to know that COVID-19 is still here. We must learn how to live with it while protecting ourselves and others.”   

MCPH asks residents for their continued support and to consider aiding the community efforts to end the pandemic. The most effective ways to prevent the spread of any COVID-19 virus are to stay home (away from work, school, child care, and activities) when you are not feeling well, wash your hands often, and get a COVID-19 vaccine. Unvaccinated individuals should maintain at least 6 feet of physical distance from others and wear a mask in crowded indoor spaces.

The COVID-19 vaccine is available at no cost, and identification or insurance is not required. Eligibility recently expanded to include individuals as young as 12 years of age.

Schedule your appointment at the Mesa County Community Vaccination Site here