Red Alert: Janet Rowland appointed to the Mesa County Board of Public Health

Janet Rowland probably did the most damage to current vaccination efforts through her campaign last year where she denigrated masking and embraced Q-Anon conspiracy theories about Covid-19.

Updated 5/6/23 to reflect support for the REOPEN movement by the violent, seditious hate group The Proud Boys, anti-vaxxers and conspiracy theorists, and the homophobic comments Rowland made on a statewide political TV show in 2006. 

In a move akin to appointing an arsonist as fire chief, Mesa County Commissioners Cody Davis and Bobbie Daniel appointed Commissioner Janet Rowland to the Mesa County Board of Public Health yesterday, Tuesday, April 25.

Rowland has been an outspoken enemy of public health for years.

She fought Covid-19 precautions before vaccines were available and disseminated disinformation about the virus that was linked to QAnon.  Her social media posts promoted the notion that Covid-19 was no more deadly than the flu. She said things on social media about the virus that contradicted public health messages instructing people in how to stay safe and reduce spread of what was then a largely deadly virus.

In April of 2020, at the start of the pandemic, Rowland agitated against physical distancing and the temporary shutdown of non-essential businesses — the only tools available at the time to limit the spread of what was then a highly communicable and often deadly virus.  At that time there was no prevention, no immunization, no treatment and no cure for COVID-19, and no way to test for the virus. America led the world in deaths from Covid-19 then, with around 25,000 deaths. Since then, more than 1.2 million Americans have been killed by Covid-19, an unthinkable number that was exacerbated in part by the national dissemination of lies disinformation about the virus by influential people, including Janet Rowland.

Rowland was running for Mesa County commissioner at the time. She posted lies about the virus that encouraged people to engage in behaviors that would spread it further:

She changed the header on her campaign Facebook page to a message suggesting her followers join an “action oriented group” to rebel against social distancing and the temporary closure of non-essential businesses where people could congregate and spread the disease:

In mid-April of 2020, below her new “REOPEN” header, just a few weeks after the onset of the deadly Coronavirus pandemic, Janet Rowland changed the header on her profile page to the above graphic and started agitating against the only public health measures available at the time to reduce mass spread of Covid-19. At the time, the virus was highly communicable, virulent and often deadly.

Anti-public health FB post by Janet Rowland

Screen shot captured April 16, 2020, in which Janet Rowland urged people to join the “action oriented” group, “Reopen Colorado,” which agitated against public health measures aimed at preventing the spread of Covid-19, which was then a brand new, unchecked, deadly virus.

The ReOpen Colorado movement was supported by the white nationalist hate group The Proud Boys, anti-vaxxers, those who wanted to undermine public health orders aimed at protecting the public, like social distancing and mask wearing, 

Also on 4/16/2020, Rowland posted statistics from Mesa County Public Health showing how successful the current containment measures had been at reducing the spread of the virus in the County, and instead of urging people to continue using the behaviors that were saving lives, she came to exactly the wrong conclusion and urged an end to the measures that were actually working to control the virus:

On 4/16/2020, Janet Rowland posted this message showing current containment methods were working, but then she urged an end to the measures.

Rowland publicly linked gay marriage to bestiality

Rowland once linked gay marriage to polygamy, bestiality, incest, and marriage involving 11-year-olds on the March 17, 2006 edition of the state-wide Rocky Mountain PBS television program Colorado State of Mind, during a discussion about a referendum to allow domestic partnerships in Colorado. Her comments were derided as “insensitive, closed-minded, derogatory and crude” by Bill Ritter, who at the time was the Democratic nominee for Governor. Such comments can contribute to isolation and persecution of members of the LGBTQ community and contribute towards increased rates of suicide among these groups.

No public health knowledge & promoting QAnon Covid-19 theories

Rowland had 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 worldwide pandemic caused by a novel, virulent virus. She was, however, known for voicing extreme political and religious views that were far out of the mainstream, as well as several ethical lapses while she was a Mesa County commissioner before, from 2008-2012.

Rowland’s Q-Anon-linked social media posts linked to articles from discredited sources that told people there was no significant risk of getting Coronavirus when grocery shopping, or from frequently-touched common public surfaces like door handles, and that wearing face masks around others could exacerbate spread of the disease instead of reduce it.

At the time, American hospitals were getting overwhelmed with Covid-19 patients. The U.S. topped the world in Coronavirus deaths and the number was continuing to climb rapidly. FEMA was sending refrigerated trucks to New York City hospitals to hold the overflow of dead bodies from the virus the city was burying unclaimed bodies of Covid-19 victims in mass graves. Essential workers, like grocery workers, doctors, nurses, transportation workers and others, had started dying from the disease and as of April 13, 2020, just three days before Rowland posted her “Re-Open Mesa County” message on Facebook that said grocery shopping was safe, over 30 grocery store workers nationwide had died from Covid-19.

Rowland also promoted Alex Jones’ “InfoWars” conspiracy theory that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control was intentionally inflating the number of Covid deaths: 

Janet Rowland’s Facebook post, captured on May 15, 2020, casting doubt on the CDC’s count of U.S. Coronavirus deaths, in line with Alex Jones’ “Infowars” conspiracy theory

One reason Rowland gave for her notion of government conspiracy is that inflating the number of Covid deaths allowed hospitals to make more money. In truth, anyone who has ever worked in a hospital knows that hospitals get paid for treating patients, not for listing specific causes of death on death certificates. Claims that hospitals were deliberately miscoding patients as having Covid-19 were not supported by any evidence, but Rowland did not cite any credible evidence to support her assertion.

Promoting the Lizard Illuminati and Alex Jones’ theories of Covid-19

The Covid death “over-count theory” Rowland disseminated in May of 2020 was being advanced far-right conspiracy theorist David Icke, who was known for making claims (video) that George Bush, Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, Queen Elizabeth and other modern-day world leaders were part of the Lizard Illuminati, a centuries-old reptilian-Satanist pedophile group, and that the moon is actually a hollowed-out space station that the Illuminati use as a base to control our minds.

Alex Jones promoted the QAnon death overcount theory on his Infowars website, to try to convince his followers that the government was inflating Covid deaths in order to terrorize people into relinquishing their freedoms and to benefit the vaccine industry.

If we give Rowland the benefit of the doubt and assume she meant well and didn’t have any true malicious intent, the only possible conclusion to all this is that she just didn’t know any better.

By mindlessly promoting dangerous theories to undermine public health, Rowland exhibited a dangerous lack of media literacy and almost total absence of critical thinking skills at a time when these skills were utterly crucial. Rowland showed outright during this time that she lacked the intellectual curiosity to research the origins of theories that sounded kind of wacky and determine their validity, or lack thereof, before promoting them. She demonstrated in real time that she is unable to tell credible information from nonsense — a fatal flaw for anyone in a position of authority with respect to public health, let alone an elected official.

What’s more, by spreading all this dangerous public health misinformation, she was willing to mislead Mesa County residents on a daily basis, endanger them and undermine their safety, which was unethical at the highest levels.

One of County Commissioner Janet Rowland’s Fox News Facebook posts from her campaign, spreading misinformation about the Covid pandemic in 2020

Post from Mesa County Republican Janet Rowland’s campaign Facebook page, August 14, 2020

  27 comments for “Red Alert: Janet Rowland appointed to the Mesa County Board of Public Health

  1. No Seamus, I don’t think there should be a law that says, Mesa County love it or leave it. That kind of thought policing is more of a democrat thing.
    I just thought for the good of your health, you might want to consider moving somewhere where the political climate wouldn’t upset you as much as it does here in Grand Junction.

    We conservatives are always looking out for the anxious and marginalized.
    It’s who we are.

    • You do almost as much backpedaling as you do projecting; the “Mesa County/America, Love it or leave it!” sentiment is undeniably a Conservative mindset, no matter how many times you want to deny it every time you’re called out on it. I happen to be quite happy here; while there’s minimal progress in Mesa County, Colorado is getting bluer every year; and my lil’ piece of ground serves as a refuge for marginalized people; a refuge from people who think like you.

      • Oh yes, Colorado is getting bluer. Hopefully this little backward corner of the state will remain as it’s been for generations.

      • I think about politics a lot. The only reason I visit this site is to see what lefties like you are thinking.

        My impression, which could be wrong, is that people like you and Ann are appalled that people on the right are getting radicalized when you are used to nice, civilized Republicans. What you fail to realize is that it is people like you with your grotesque, insulting rhetoric which has turned the tide. The right has learned how to organize and fight. I know it’s uncomfortable and shocking for you but that’s OK and about time.

        • Yeah, we’ve seen what happens when “civilized” Republicans don’t get their way. Luckily, you’re not so brave when people push back. Hell, you couldn’t even get the job done on 1/6 with far superior numbers and little resistance.

          So, sure, you can waddle around the Grand Valley strapped, like you’re ready to take on BLM/Antifa in the parking lot at City Market, or race along the Patterson Speedway in a vehicle that’s got more bumper stickers than paint visible, but when the sh*t goes down, you’re all hat, no cattle. Try that talk in Five Points. LOL

    • Thank you for providing backup for the info you post.,there still are so many who remain ignorant as to the workings of those who seek to maintain control over Mesa County!!!!

  2. What a consistently silly person you are!

    I wasn’t intimating I had dirt on Ann merely observing that the “guilt by association” game can be played by anyone.

    And…if you hate where you live so much why don’t you get the hell out?
    There are so many places which are being run by people you’d approve of. Portland, San Francisco, Los Angeles. If you go…don’t forget your tent.

  3. Completely agree Anne !
    Janet advertises herself as a great protector of children .
    We’ve learned that guns are the number one cause of deaths in children in the USA and yet Janet just announced she was against the four common sense gun laws just passed by the State Legislature and signed by Gov. Polis .

    • You won’t know if these ‘common sense” laws are effective in protecting “the children” until some time goes by. They certainly feel good and make people think that something is being done…but only time will tell.

      I wonder if Rowland had a nuanced reason for being in opposition. I can certainly see why people would question whether red flag reports on people could potentially run amok.

  4. Thank you for this reminder of all the disinformation Rowland is responsible for. Of course she was appointed by the guy who compared not following public health measures to eating too much mac and cheese (i.e. my body my choice).

  5. Alice, you are reading incorrectly. I wrote that the disinformation and conspiracy theories that Rowland promoted on her campaign social media pages early in the pandemic were linked to QAnon. I did not say Rowland herself was linked to QAnon.

    • Again…no proof that she promoted QAnon…at least in the links you provide.

      You know the toxic affect the term QAnon has on readers and no one (except me) will check your assertion.

      You’re kind of a flame thrower.

    • Now I see you removed my original post.
      Not sure why but I will say this…you want to associate all of the people you don’t like with nefarious activities and you know your readers will believe you. They call it “guilt by association”. What terrible things could you be associated with, Ann?

      • If you have some “dirt” on Ann, feel free to share it. But we all know it doesn’t exist.
        It’s just a cowardly, empty attempt to shift the focus away from Rowland’s fondness for QAnon wackadoo BS.
        A perfect example of why Western Slope politics is a pathetic joke among people who think.

        • What a consistently silly person you are!

          I wasn’t intimating I had dirt on Ann merely observing that the “guilt by association” game can be played by anyone.

          And…if you hate where you live so much why don’t you get the hell out?
          There are so many places which are being run by people you’d approve of. Portland, San Francisco, Los Angeles. If you go…don’t forget your tent.

          • That’s exactly what you were doing; implying there was something you had, or could dig up on Ann. Conservatives are so spineless.

            Also, I don’t hate where I live. I like where I live; been in the same spot for decades; nice view of the valley, and my backyard literally ends at the Colorado river. I don’t have to agree with the prevailing political mindset in order to do that. I’d like changes that make life better for everyone in the valley; not just me. Is that some kind of law you’d like to see? “Mesa County…love us unconditionally, or get out”?

            And, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Portland (along with every other city larger than Grand Junction that clearly terrifies you) offer a lot more than nice views, and the sport of laughing at people like Rowland, Peters, Boebert…

            and you.

        • I actually looked at your comment policy before I posted and it only mentioned the 2020 election. I guess you expanded the rules.

          I have to give you credit for letting me post on your blog but I do notice that you and your readers have an intolerance and lack of curiosity about views which differ from yours.

          • “What terrible things could you be associated with, Ann?”

            Remember when you made that comment?
            Was that you?

            That’s not a “different view”; that’s just standard conservative deflection by attacking the reporter. Don’t pretend you’re here to do anything else.

  6. Rowland has always been trouble. She is poorly informed and very stubborn. Jeff Kuhr has done a great job despite the obstruction and idiocy of the County Commissioners. These political extremists are also after the Library Board—after all they don’t want people to read anything but on their approved list. Christian Nationalists (like Rowland’s buddy Bobo) are in charge. After the Tina Peters debacle (another Rowland protege), I can’t believe anyone would move here.

  7. How despicable to have this woman appointed to the Mesa County Board of Public Health. Just another inflection point to promote EDUCATING constituents of Mesa County. How sad.

  8. Wow. Some people are just determined to keep Mesa County a political punchline. I guess being a laughingstock gives us some sort of notoriety; it’s not like we can say our county is a standout for anything else.

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