Two years after the first COVID-19 case was identified, Mesa County Public Health (MCPH) is releasing a special report, complementing the Community Health Needs Assessment. The COVID-19 Impact Report is dedicated solely to the impacts of COVID-19 in Mesa County.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, case investigators with MCPH tracked case counts, community spread, and deaths due to the virus. Tracking these data, related to direct impacts, is vital to understanding where and how the virus spreads, who is most at risk, and allows the agency to share public health guidance to protect the community and control illness outbreaks.
As data related to the number of cases was being shared through an online Data Dashboard, the Research and Planning team at MCPH was tracking in-depth and more indirect measures as to how Mesa County was impacted by the pandemic.
The report examines the time period between 2019-2021 and includes information on calls for service by law enforcement, healthcare visits with mental health notes, utilization of local sports programs, unemployment benefit comparisons to wages, and more. Examining these measures provides the most comprehensive look to date at the impacts of the pandemic on our community, with the intent to inform community organizations in their plans for action over the next few years.
Some of the findings include:
- In 2020, the average age of overdose death dropped by 10 years.
- Job losses impacted our local economy with a 10% reduction at the start of the pandemic, but unlike the recession of 2008, losses are on track to recover by the end of 2022.
- Child care and preschool facilities faced workforce challenges. Licensed child care capacity for children ages 0-5 dropped by 6% between 2019 and 2020, and an additional 11% between 2020 and 2021.
- Alcohol-related causes of death increased during the first year of the pandemic, the data shows a 45% increase over typical (baseline) causes.
The report highlights areas of impact rooted in the Social Determinants of Health. These are conditions in the environments where people live, learn, work, and play, that impact their health. This is the same way data is presented in the Community Health Needs Assessment released last year.