G.J., Mesa County prominently featured in LA Times article about communities where vaccine holdouts are fueling spread of the pandemic

L.A. Times article in which Grand Junction and Mesa County are mentioned several times as places in which rampant vaccine denial and the complete ending of public health protocols too soon are packing hospitals and perpetuating the pandemic for the rest of the country

The Saturday, July 17, 2021 Los Angeles Times features a prominent story about “obstinate” communities in which large numbers of people who are refusing to get  Covid-19 vaccines are now spreading a more virulent strain of Coronavirus and stalling the nation’s recovery from the pandemic.

Mesa County and Grand Junction are mentioned several times in the article as among the places where large numbers of stubbornly unvaccinated people are posing a danger to the rest of the country.

How did we get here?

County Commissioner Janet Rowland probably did the most damage to current vaccination efforts with her campaign last year, in which she denigrated masking and embraced Q-Anon-style conspiracy theories about Covid-19.

How we go from being known as Vacationland, U.S.A. to gaining national recognition as one of the most conspiracy-believing, vaccine-denying, disease-spreading, public-health flauting communities in the country?

It probably happened in large part because all three Mesa County Commissioners are Republicans, and two of them — Janet Rowland and Cody Davis — ran for election in 2020 using campaigns that pushed anti-public health conspiracy theories, pandemic denialism, anti-masking sentiments and skepticism of public health experts in order to get votes from their frightened, low-information constituency.

Commissioner Janet Rowland in particular relentlessly pushed Q-Anon-linked conspiracy theories on her campaign Facebook page while running for office. Rowland spread messages that undermined public health recommendations for how to stay safe and healthy amid the pandemic and how to slow spread of tCovid-19. Her posts urged people to dump masking, go back to work, and she told people that if they don’t get back to work then “Coronavirus wins.” Cody Davis posted articles on his social media that fueled skepticism towards public health experts. One his posts referred to Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Disease and an expert on Covid-19 transmission as a “so-called technical expert” whose advice should be subjugated to the beliefs of far less knowledgeable elected officials.

Cody Davis campaign Facebook post pushing skepticism about public health expertise

The county commissioners also assumed they knew better than the public health experts when they prematurely removed all protections against the virus by ending the mask mandate and recommendations for physical distancing and eliminated capacity limits in indoor venues under their much-touted “Freedom to Choose” initiative.

So it is our Republican local elected officials who have brought us a long way towards where we are today, spreading a more infectious, deadly form of Coronavirus disease, to where young people are now the group that is most susceptible to Covid-19 in our community, to where Mesa County has earned scorn and ridicule from the rest of the nation and to where we are likely barreling straight into a sicker, more deadly fall and winter than we had last year.




  7 comments for “G.J., Mesa County prominently featured in LA Times article about communities where vaccine holdouts are fueling spread of the pandemic

  1. As long as the County Commissioners, City Council, and local media continue to take their marching orders from the Chamber of Commerce, Mesa County will keep trying to hide the truth, and people will keep dying.


  2. The Times promotes interests. It has not been a real newspaper for over a decade.

    The “pandemic” is over. Globally. The vaccines are here and they work. No more masks, sanitizing, distancing, shields.

    Fill everything to capacity, let’s all make out, and whoever lives is what’s left.

  3. OH My Ann:
    First given the reporting in the LA Times- well they failed to report the rest of the story- per our very own Jeff Kuhr I believe there were 19 cases of Covid that were documented from Country Jam – I think the number of people that attended the festival were somewhere between 20-24K. So if you do the math that is between 0.00095 and 0.00079 percent! Even Kuhr said that it appears that outdoor events pose little risk to the spread of the virus. Regarding churches and outdoor carnivals you forgot to add to it concerts at Los Colonias – additional outdoor events that as far as I know there have not been any reports of massive out breaks.
    Given this last data https://health.mesacounty.us/covid19/datadashboard/ it would appear that the numbers of cases are dropping as can be expected. Even in the face of lower vaccination numbers here in the valley. Being a ex- Californian we know the lack of truthfulness in reporting by the LA Times.

    Just an FYI if you check many of the cases are in individuals that have BEEN VACCINATED? That has to at least raise a few eyebrows.

    Furthermore using the death of a child to try and instill fear in parents and push vaccines is unconscionable. There cannot be anything more devastating to a parent than the loss of a child- the young 15 year old was a shock to many of us in the county-especially since the virus in kids is not supposed to be nearly as pathogenic- that said it has recently been revealed that this poor young girl had serious co morbidities- ie her weight was estimated to be over 200 pounds-some reports say closer to 400 pounds. A 15 year old at that weight undoubtably is not the norm. This information doesn’t make the loss of the child any less painful but it does shed light on the rest of the story.

    Lastly your venomous attacks on our local leaders just is petty and childish. Recent revelations from Dr Fauci’s emails as well as his financial connections to the vaccines makes actually makes Cody Davis’s statements pretty on point-It is not surprising that most of Americans are beginning to question what we have been fed for the last almost 18 month and what really has been the motivation of our national elected leaders. I will say that here in the valley compared to the eastern slope and much of the US, we have fared very well because of the decisions, courage and common sense that our commissioners, city council, and health departments did early on. I really do not care what side of the isle they are on if the decisions that they make are in keeping with their duty to do the very best for the community. None are perfect, but they do seem to have a general consensus to put the residents of the valley as a top priority- even when confronted with far right and far left voices.

    • Karen, Karen, Karen…
      Its the denial and “head in the sand” routine that creates the mis-information highway we experience here in Mesa County.
      Saying we arent experiencing an upsurge in hospital admittance and positive COVID cases doesn’t do anyone justice.
      Information about our community situation only HELPS everyone make the best decisions for the health of their own loved ones.
      Why are you mad at someone for shedding some light on the numbers reflected in our County?
      It is what it is…
      What can we do?
      We need to work together to bring the cases down so we aren’t featured in articles that make us look like we are carelessly spreading the new variant like a bunch of uneducated dipshits.

    • Karen, The Mesa County Health Department web site shows 30 cases from Country Jam, and climbing daily. Stop spreading misinformation, pull your head out and realize that COVID is still very active in Mesa County and the only way to end this pandemic is for everyone, who physically can, to get vaccinated.

      By the way, our local leaders are part of the cause of the Delta variant getting out of control here with their everybody do whatever the hell they want to do policy. If we could have stuck with the CDC guidelines for an extra month, perhaps the Delta variant wouldn’t have put us in the national news. Not just the L. A. Times, but many other prominent news outlets.

      While I’m at it, what is unconscionable, is you body shaming this poor young girl who lost her life to COVID. Her Mother’s pain is real and you know nothing about her underlying health conditions, so you should probably keep your opinion about this to yourself.

    • The very best for the community, huh….. with regard to the virus spreading, they aren’t doing such a good job.

      I’ve been giving a bit of thought to the issue of folks refusing the virus…. I’m sure that a small minority of those have some reasonable sensitivity concerns (re: immunocompromised; past significant allergic reactions to vaccines; etc). However, the large majority of anti vaccine folks do not have a legitimate reason from a public health standpoint.

      Perhaps charging more for insurance (life or health) as is done for tobacco users would make some of these folks consider otherwise? A hit in the wallet gets attention. It’s not like Trump or Boebert are going to fund an insurance scheme for the anti-vaccine folks….. or maybe that’s a good life insurance bet for them? But, I shouldn’t give them add’l business ideas that take money from folks who need it for food, rent, etc.

      Ironically, the ACA, which so many of these folks vehemently oppose, gives them lot’s of protections with regard to medical insurance costs….. and you can be sure that they would cry foul if a cost increase for the non-vaccinated able-bodied were introduced

      A different public safety analogy: The fire fighters who often need to fight fires in mountain areas think twice about working on the ground trying to save properties that *have not* had defensible space work done in the areas surrounding structures….. If a similar idea were applied to the pandemic, my feeling is: if you are able-bodied and refuse to get vaccinated, be prepared to save yourself should you contract the virus.

      ‘wish Johnathan Swift were around to write about current events. Perhaps Chris Buckley can cover for him.

      • If the vaccine works so well, why does it need to be mandated. Last I checked the FDA has still not approved this vaccine. Let people choose their path. If you are vaccinated, why worry what others are doing. By the way this vaccine was advanced by Donald Trump, if anyone should be refusing it, it should be all you Donald Trump haters. Just sayin.

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