Mesa County Commissioner candidate Janet Rowland (R) has been posting misleading information about Coronavirus on her campaign Facebook page that is linked to the nutty beliefs of the conspiracy theory QAnon, and that contradict the messaging of public health authorities telling people what they need to do to stay safe and minimize spread of the deadly Coronavirus.
There is currently no prevention, no treatment and no cure for the novel Coronavirus, and it has been spreading rapidly throughout the world unchecked and particularly quickly throughout the U.S. due to lack of preparation for the arrival of the virus in this country. American hospitals are overwhelmed with Coronavirus patients. The U.S. now tops the world in Coronavirus deaths, with over 25,000 deaths and the number continues to climb rapidly. New York is burying unclaimed bodies of Coronavirus victims in mass graves. Essential workers, like grocery workers, doctors, nurses, transportation workers and others, have started dying from the disease. As of April 13, over 30 grocery store workers nationally have died from Coronavirus.
It is likely far more people are dying who are not included in the official count.
The virus can be spread by asymptomatic carriers — people who show no outward symptoms of being ill — and according to the Mesa County Public health Department, our county is now experiencing “community spread,” meaning community members are passing the virus on to one another without knowing who the sources of the virus are. This poses a particular danger for our community amid the pandemic.
Rowland is undermining public health measures aimed at keeping people safe, reducing the number of people who get sick
Public health authorities are telling people they need to stay home, avoid contact with other people, wear cloth face masks over mouth and nose when around others, keep at least 6 feet away from other people and wash your hands frequently. All but the most essential businesses like grocery stores, trucking and medical offices, have been ordered to close so people can isolate at home and keep from spreading the disease. These behavioral changes are currently the only tool available to contain the spread of the virus.
Amid all this, Rowland is spreading messages that undermine public health authorities’ recommendations for how to stay healthy and slow the spread of the disease. Her posts urge people to go back to work, suggesting that if we persist in sheltering at home then “Coronavirus wins.” Rowland’s posts tell people there is no significant risk of getting Coronavirus when shopping or from frequently-touched common public surfaces like door handles, and tell people that wearing face masks around others could exacerbate spread of the disease instead of reduce it.
Rowland has no background in epidemiology
Rowland has no educational background or experience in epidemiology, virology, microbiology, public health or any other field that would qualify her as an authority on how to effectively deal with a a hundred-year worldwide pandemic. She is, however, known for voicing extreme political and religious views that are far out of the mainstream, as well as several ethical lapses while she was a Mesa County commissioner before, from 2008-2012.
This blog recommends readers listen to local and national public health authorities and scientific experts about how to survive the Coronavirus pandemic, and ignore the pronouncements of low-level local candidates with no medical, epidemiological, scientific or public health experience and only their own political interests as their central concern.