Mesa County continues to experience a low rate of COVID-19 positive cases, due in part to the fact that there have been no outbreaks of the illness in long-term care (LTC) or other congregate care facilities. 

Mesa County Public Health (MCPH) has worked directly with LTC facilities throughout the pandemic to minimize the risk of disease transmission among residents and staff. MCPH recently provided all facilities in the county with a Provider Toolkit that includes recommendations for how to request and manage personal protective equipment, reporting requirements if a staff member or resident becomes sick, and guidance for on-site sampling by facility personnel.

Testing of staff and residents in Mesa County’s LTC facilities so far has been through a combination of efforts by MCPH, individual medical providers and the Colorado National Guard. As part of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s Rapid Response team, the Colorado National Guard is conducting testing of staff and residents at facilities across the state, including 18 in Mesa County.

“We are supportive of their efforts as it contributes to our understanding of COVID-19 prevalence in our community,” notes MCPH epidemiology program manager Heidi Dragoo. “It also allows us to potentially identify asymptomatic cases early in order to mitigate COVID-19’s impact on a very vulnerable population.” 

Visitation at LTC facilities has been prohibited under most circumstances during Colorado’s Stay At Home and Safer At Home orders, to prevent the spread of COVID-19 to high-risk older adults and individuals with chronic health conditions. The resulting decrease in social support, however, has negatively impacted this vulnerable population, for whom loneliness and isolation can have both physical and emotional effects. 

Mesa County Public Health has a team dedicated to working with congregate care partners in the community to ensure they have the guidance they need to continue to successfully follow protocols. It is our combined goal to protect the most vulnerable residents from the devastating effects of COVID-19, and we’re fortunate that we have had successful collaboration every step of the way.