Seventy-four positive cases of COVID-19 were reported to Mesa County Public Health (MCPH) on October 22. That number is nearly double the previous record (44) which was recorded the day prior.
Although it took four months for Mesa County to reach 100 cases, this week 118 cases were reported in a 48-hour period. The increase we are experiencing is not gradual, and not showing signs of plateauing. The dramatic rise in COVID-19 cases has prompted MCPH to take action to ensure our community can continue to track, treat, and isolate cases of COVID-19.
“Mesa County’s positive cases have significantly increased over the past month. Most of this is due to informal gatherings between friends and family, and people showing up at work and other places while sick, in some instances resulting in sizable outbreaks,” Mesa County Public Health Executive Director Jeff Kuhr said. Each member of our community can help reduce transmission of the virus that causes COVID-19. We must all take action to slow the spread of illness. MCPH urges all residents to:
- AVOID crowds
- AVOID confined spaces
- AVOID close contact
If you are in a situation where these three things cannot be avoided, wear a mask as well as in public indoor settings as required by the current Executive Order.
With case counts exceeding levels allowed, and because mitigation strategies have so far not shown a decrease in cases, Mesa County will move to the ‘cautious’ level on the State of Colorado’s dial. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment assigns levels based on the number of cases in a two-week period, percent positivity, and hospitalizations, all of which are trending upward. Under this new system implemented at the state level, each county is evaluated using key metrics. Communities move between levels based on these metrics.
MCPH and the Mesa County Board of Health are working to draft a local public health order, which will be in effect upon approval.
Since the announcement that Mesa County qualified for the Protect Our Neighbors phase of reopening there has been some confusion about the status and what is allowed under this latest phase of reopening in the COVID-19 response.
Protect Our Neighbors is community-specific, and different communities will be at different phases, based on local conditions and capabilities. Mesa County Public Health (MCPH) has advocated for this type of local control, it’s one of the reasons we were among the first to be given this designation. The current local public health order outlines this next phase of reopening. The public health order supports Mesa County’s efforts to continue to open gradually and allows:
- All industries (all types of businesses, establishments, and activities) may operate at 50% of normal capacity.
- Indoor occupancy is capped at 500 people.
Requirements under the public health order include (but are not limited to):
- Use of cloth face coverings over the nose and mouth for interactions where physical distancing is not possible or when entering and moving throughout indoor public places.
- Last call for alcohol sales in restaurants and in on-premises retail liquor establishments can be no later than midnight.
This new phase does not mean that illness from COVID-19 is gone from our community, or that businesses will be able to operate exactly as they did before the pandemic. “We continue to work alongside numerous community partners to ensure our businesses can operate, our students can learn, and our community is healthy,” Jeff Kuhr, Executive Director, Mesa County Public Health said. “We’re working toward a full reopening together, but we’re not there yet. The support of our entire community is essential in our efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19.”
Residents, visitors, and anyone in Mesa County must follow the local order which is not interchangeable with the State’s order. All community members are strongly encouraged to visit the Mesa County Public Health website and read the entire public health order and outlined guidelines that are broken down by industry. We all must do our part to ensure success, and ask all residents of Mesa County to voluntarily comply.