Back on March 22, 2021, the Mesa County Commissioners, none of whom have a medical degree or any experience in epidemiology, immunology, virology or any other medical field, signed a “Free to Choose” resolution (pdf) that ended all Coronavirus protections in the county, including physical distancing, masking, capacity limits in businesses and hand washing. Their rationale was that hospital use in Mesa County was decreasing, everyone had access to vaccines, and people had spent plenty of time wearing masks already and enough was enough.
Well maybe things were looking up at the time, but the virus doesn’t go by how angry we are at it.
When they signed this resolution the Commissioners gave the virus the go-ahead to keep spreading unchecked, and it has been doing so steadily ever since, on steroids because of the Delta variant. The result has been a steady upswing in Covid cases that spiked recently, high enough to catapult the county back in severity to where we were with the pandemic in December of 2020.
All of the progress we saw last March has been lost.
The failure of our elected officials to understand what a communicable disease is and accept the reality of how it works, and their inability to accept public health experts’ advice on how to best deal with it, has taken a severe toll on the County, as once again science and common sense have taken a back seat to ideology in County government, to the detriment of residents, and especially all the dead people.
Hundreds of deaths and more to come, but few people seem to care
More than one person a day is dying from Covid-19 now in Mesa County.
337 people have died of Covid so far, and with our large unvaccinated population, cases and deaths will keep climbing — a real danger as we head into another winter holiday season.
25 schools in Mesa County currently have active Covid outbreaks.
An October 31 Daily Sentinel article that announced that 43 Covid deaths in October made it the deadliest month since December, 2020 didn’t even make the front page of the paper.
Few people are bothering to mask up in grocery stores any more, and concerts, festivals, galas, dinner party fundraisers and theater productions are going on as if everything is back to normal. Colorado Mesa University is almost completely ignoring the pandemic with a notable absence of any Covid precautions, despite the high rate of Covid outbreaks in local schools.
CMU’s absent Covid policies
Amid all this desperation, Colorado Mesa University requires neither masks nor vaccines for students, and has gone so far as to block faculty from enforcing mask mandates in their classrooms, terrorizing instructors by making them fear for their health as the pandemic rages again in western Colorado.
Contrast this with how Western Colorado University in Gunnison is handling the surge in cases. WCU is temporarily requiring all students and staff to mask up again indoors, submit proof of vaccination to the school, and continue physical distancing and hand washing protocols.
ICU beds in the County are 100% filled
Staffed ICU beds in the County are 100% utilized, so if you have an accident, heart attack or stroke or some other calamity and need an ICU bed, you’ll likely need to drive a long way or buy a plane ticket to get to a hospital somewhere far away. The states of New Mexico, Idaho and Montana have all been rationing medical care since September, and Utah has been on the brink of enacting crisis standards of care since mid-September. In October, when Community Hospital tried to transfer a patient, they couldn’t find an available bed within 500 miles.
Last Sunday, Gov. Polis signed an order that allows hospitals to start turning away patients and using “crisis standards of care,” which means doctors can start rationing medical care by giving it only to patients they think have the best chance of survival.
These aren’t the imaginary “death panels” Republicans threatened when it looked like the Affordable Care Act was going to pass. This makes those contrived scenarios look like a silly little joke.
This is real life and Mesa County citizens may soon face the reality of rationed health care due to our area’s mass intransigence in getting vaccinated and our area’s leaders’ failure to do what is necessary to reduce transmission of Covid to a manageable level. If people don’t start changing their tune on vaccines and the County doesn’t start taking Covid mitigation seriously, we could all face the collapse of our health care system locally and the very real possibility that people won’t be able to access the health care system when they need it.