Category: Health care

Mesa County’s pervasive right wing culture is damaging our public health and economy

No one wants to say it, but Mesa County’s far right wing culture is now hurting us all, physically and economically

Everybody is dancing around it, but no one wants to come right out and say it. It’s the single biggest threat to Mesa County’s population in the last hundred years, but everyone is scared to say it:

Mesa County’s dominant far right wing culture is now causing a resurgent spread of Covid-19, sending people to the hospital and endangering the children in our community who are too young to get vaccinated. Our area’s right wing culture, with its erroneous, misinformed beliefs, is causing the majority of Mesa County residents to refuse to get vaccinated against Covid-19. At the same time our elected officials have abandoned all other means of controlling the pandemic, like masking and physical distancing requirements.

We’ve heard over and over again that the Covid vaccine is now our only way out of the pandemic, but because most people in Mesa County are refusing to get vaccinated, we may never escape the pandemic.

People who won’t get vaccinated are continuing to act as if everything was normal again, too. They are gathering, recreating, shopping and engaging in other activities without taking Covid precautions. Country Jam is right around the corner, frightening residents with its outsized potential to be a big Covid-spreading event.

Local hospitals have reported they are full and diverting patients. This is happening because of an excess of Covid-19 cases among unvaccinated people.

Contrary to popular belief, the pandemic is not over. It is still here and still spreading, and now with the more transmissible and virulent Delta variant. That, combined with the large number of unvaccinated people here is making our area’s hospitals  fill up with Covid patients along with all the other seasonal emergencies the hospitals usually get, like hiking and rafting accidents, for example — to the point where they have to occasionally refuse to take any more patients.

This means that if you or a member of your family unexpectedly require hospitalization, there may not be a bed here because the hospitals are clogged with Covid-19 patients, and you’ll have to drive somewhere else in the state to get them admitted to a hospital.

This is a distinct threat to all Mesa County residents, and it’s all attributable to the county’s widespread and grossly uninformed far right wing beliefs.

Those same beliefs are now dragging our economy, down, too.

In a June 13 Daily Sentinel article, Robin Brown, Executive Director of the Grand Junction Economic Partnership, said our area’s low vaccination rate is now hurting economic growth, too. Brown said businesses that were considering moving to or expanding to Mesa County are pulling out because of our low vaccination rate.  Mesa County Public Health Department Director Jeff Kuhr explained why:

A typical misinformed conversation on Facebook about the pandemic and the Covid-19 vaccine in Mesa County

Mesa County’s unvaccinated people form the majority of the pool of potential employees, and when unvaccinated people get exposed to Covid-19, they have to quarantine for 10 days. As employees, they’d be forced to miss work. Unvaccinated employees are at a far greater risk of getting Covid-19, too, particularly with the more transmissible Delta variant running amok in the community now. Infected employees have to take sick leave.

People who are vaccinated don’t have to quarantine after being exposed to the virus, so why would any business consider moving here when they can move to one of the other counties where over 70% of people are already vaccinated, and where the potential for this added expense and uncertainty is far less of a factor than it is here?

If people don’t get vaccinated, we’re out of tools to control the pandemic

Mesa County held its own in the pandemic throughout 2020, but the County Commissioners ended public health protections early this spring when they issued their “Free to Choose” resolution, which says (and I paraphrase): “Well, we did what we could to get the pandemic under control and now we’re done with that. The economy is more important than people’s health, so now people can go do whatever they want.”

The resolution eliminated mandatory masking and physical distancing, but because the County has now summarily ditched the only other tools we had to keep people from getting infected with Covid-19, and since most adults in Mesa County are unvaccinated, we are left with ZERO tools to further control the pandemic. This hands the virus a big pool of unvaccinated bodies it will continue to infect and through which it can continue to spread, and that is exactly what it is doing right now.

The virus will continue to flourish here and keep us in a perpetual state of pandemic for the foreseeable future because we have a large and deeply misinformed population that harbors outlandish, unsubstantiated and often conspiratorial far right wing beliefs about the virus and the vaccine that keeps them from getting it.

Headlines tell the story of what Mesa County is now facing:

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

One of the rationales the Commissioners gave to justify their “Free to Choose” initiative was that we had flattened the curve, and hospital bed use in Mesa County was down so hospital capacity was no longer an issue.

Well, not any more.

On May 24th, St. Mary’s and Community Hospital both announced they were full and turning away patients. Community Hospital confirmed that the increase in the number of Covid-19 patients was a factor.

The same far right wing beliefs are now especially endangering kids in our area, and in particular kids under 11, who can’t get the Covid vaccine yet.

Twelve counties in Colorado have succeeded in meeting President Biden’s goal of getting over 70% of their residents vaccinated, taking those areas a long way towards ending the pandemic and getting back to normal where they are.

But that’s not happening here.

On June 9, the Mesa County Public Health Department issued an alert warning of widespread transmission of the Delta variant of Covid-19. The alert pointed out the particular danger this is posing to kids:

“Mesa County’s COVID-19 case data over the most recent 14 day period shows the most infections in the 10-19 age group (138). Another 50 cases have been in individuals age 0-9 in the last two weeks.”

The Delta variant now proliferating in our midst is 50% more transmissible and kids under 12 in in our county are ineligible for the Covid-19 vaccine, making kids bear the brunt of the local right wing culture’s mistaken beliefs, and the County Commissioners’ bad decisions.

Mesa County’s Covid-19 vaccination rate lags far behind the rest of the state

Dr. Megan Stiner, a pediatrician with Primary Care Partners in G.J. said on KKCO 11 News this evening that their practice has been seen a very large uptick in the number of kids presenting with Covid-19 over the last month, far more than they have seen in the course of the entire pandemic so far.

This is not abstract. Kids in Mesa County are suffering badly as a result of the decisions the politically right wing adults in this county are making, and most particularly the County Commissioners, whose job is to protect them.

Are you part of the problem? Take this quiz and see:

So what are those far right wing beliefs that are making masses of Mesa County residents refuse to get vaccinated against Covid-19?

Take this quiz and see:

  1. Do you think Donald Trump is going to ride a unicorn back into the White House this August?
  2. Do you think the health department is using Covid-19 vaccinations to inject microchips into people for Bill Gates, or to make people magnetic?
  3. Do you think the Covid-19 vaccines aren’t really vaccines because after you get vaccinated you still have to maintain physical distancing and wear a mask in some circumstances?
  4. Have you attended local presentations that featured speakers who have been formally charged with fraud and deception, charged with other crimes, or

    Another example of a typical misunderstanding among the local right wing populace of how vaccines work.

    gotten cease and desist orders from government agencies charged with protecting public health and safety?

  5. Have you read articles or watched videos that have been banned from public dissemination because they contain lies or try to extort money from low-information people by ginning up fear among them?
  6. Do you believe the virus was man-made, that the vaccination causes infertility or contains live virus, that masks don’t to work to help reduce transmission of it, that Covid-19 is no deadlier than the flu, that vitamins will cure Covid or that officials are exaggerating the death toll from the virus?
  7. Have you decided not to get the Covid-19 vaccination because, well, just you’re just going to show that goddamn government what’s what?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you are part of the problem.

It used to be that Mesa County’s far right wing culture and track record of people in office who relied on misinformation and hoaxes was something we could laugh off and joke about, but not any more.

Now it’s a deadly serious matter.

Mesa County will not be a livable community again in the same way we knew it until around 75-80% of the population is fully vaccinated, and now we have to face the fact that that may never happen here.

We’ll never get there because misguided, erroneous, uninformed right wing beliefs are making us one of the lowest-vaccinated counties in the nation.

Unless things change, we’re likely to stay there, too, and it is posing a real danger to our county, kids and our struggling economy.

 

 

 

 

 

Orchard Mesa Baptist Church to host Covid-19 misinformation event by liars and grifters at $20 a ticket

The Eventbrite invitation to the Covid-19 disinformation event at Orchard Mesa Baptist Church tomorrow afternoon.

Tomorrow afternoon the Orchard Mesa Baptist Church at 2748 B 1/2 Road will host a Covid-19 disinformation event for $20 admission featuring three discredited and fake “doctors” and Sheronna Bishop, who was bumped from Rep. Lauren Boebert’s campaign last year after Bishop publicly endorsed the Proud Boys, a far right, white nationalist organization. The Proud Boys was one of the violent extremist groups targeted by the FBI in its investigation of the insurrection at the Capitol on January 6, 2021.

Billed as the “Truth and Freedom Tour,” the event at the OM Baptist Church features three people who are well known for disseminating false, misleading and dangerous information about the Coronavirus pandemic.

Holy Superspreader! G.J. churches hold in-person services, draw crowds on first Sunday of 2021

Fellowship Church on 24 road near I-70 on Sunday morning, 1/3/21

On December 7, Colorado changed its list of “critical services” as defined by the pandemic to include “houses of worship,” eliminating the cap on the number of people who can attend religious services in person. As a result, local churches are wasting no time packing people back in to in-person services at the start of the new year. The move to lift the cap on church attendance came after the U.S. Supreme Court’s new conservative majority ruled against the State of New York in a lawsuit in which the governor sought to limit in-person attendance at religious services to reduce the spread of the deadly coronavirus pandemic. It also comes just as a new, more communicable strain of Corona virus was discovered in the state, at a time when the state is lifting some restrictions on businesses and as School District 51 announced a return to in-person learning this week — a potent combination that could greatly increase the spread of the deadly virus.

Mesa County Facebook group aims to undermine public health, sicken more people

The Facebook group “Free Mesa County” aims to sicken and kill as many people as they can in Mesa County by defying public health orders aimed at protecting the community from the novel Coronavirus, which can be deadly and has no cure.

A Facebook group called “Free Mesa County” has been created to encourage people to undermine public health and advance the spread of the novel Coronavirus in Mesa County by openly disobeying Colorado’s mask mandate and demanding full occupancy for indoor venues like churches.

The group’s latest event is an “en masse” maskless shopping event to be held this Friday, January 1, New Year’s Day. The group is urging its followers to go out and swarm local businesses without wearing face masks. Wearing of face masks is currently a requirement in all indoor public places designed to stop the spread of the deadly Coronavirus, which causes Covid-19.

RN literally begs Mesa County Commissioners to urge public to wear masks, distance, avoid gatherings

Benita Phillips, R.N., B.S.N. begged Mesa County Commissioners on 11/9 to make a definitive public statement urging the public to wear masks, avoid gatherings and strictly follow other public health protocol to help rein in the rapid spread of the novel Coronavirus in our community

A registered nurse openly begged the Mesa County Commissioners to make a statement telling people they need to wear masks when patronizing local businesses, maintain physical distancing and strictly avoid gatherings, to help rein in the area’s skyrocketing Covid-19 infection rate.

Benita Phillips, R.N., B.S.N., a retired Veterans Administration nurse, spoke to the commissioners in the public comment period of their Monday, 11/9 meeting (video, @ 1:02). Phillips spoke after Mesa County Public Health Department Executive Director Jeff Kuhr told commissioners about the dire situation the county faces from the ongoing uncontrolled spread of the novel Coronavirus. Dr. Kuhr told commissioners that last Saturday the county reached its highest new Covid case count in a single day: 180.

Better Know a District: The CO House District 54 race, Soper vs. Slaven-Emond

Where is Colorado House District 54?

Colorado House District 54 is all the dark pink area in this map. It includes Clifton, Fruitvale, DeBeque, the towns of Mesa, Collbran, Fruita, Loma, Mack, Glade Park, Palisade, Whitewater, Gateway, the western side of Delta County and the central part of the town of Delta proper. It’s the “doughnut” around state House District 55.

Republican Matt Soper at the GOP rally in Delta on Saturday, May 16, 2020, where he told numerous lies to the crowd.

The race for Colorado House District 54 is between the incumbent, Matt Soper (R) and AliceMarie Slaven-Emond (D), both of Delta. You can read articles in this blog about Matt Soper at this link.

Matt Soper (R-incumbent)

Soper won the House Representative D-54 office in 2018 under contentious conditions. Published articles reveal that Soper lied to the Secretary of State about where he lived in 2018, listing the address of a rental house his mother owns as his own residence in order to meet the residency requirement to qualify to hold the House District 54 seat. In truth, an unrelated family had lived in the house for years, and after one of the occupants swore in a legal affidavit that Matt Soper did not live in the house with him and his family, Soper had his mother evict the family from the home as retribution for telling the truth publicly about how Soper did not live there.

New online resource map shows real and fake abortion clinics in Colorado

 

KeepAbortionSafe.com now offers a Pregnancy Resource Map that shows which “pregnancy clinics” throughout the country are real, and which are fake.

Offices that bill themselves as “crisis pregnancy centers” or “pregnancy clinics” often are not actual medical clinics, but religiously-based anti-abortion operations that lure in women struggling with unexpected pregnancies. They intentionally withhold information from women about their full complement of reproductive options. Such “clinics” steer women away from abortions and offer “information” that casts abortion as debilitating, dangerous and frightening.

Finding true reproductive health services clinics in Colorado, that is, ones that offer a full range of medically-accurate sexual health information, contraceptives, information and treatments for sexually-transmitted diseases and infections, and all legal and safe reproductive health options can be tricky because in Colorado fake “pregnancy resource” clinics and outnumber real abortion and medical information providers by almost 3 to 1.

The Pregnancy Resource map shows that the two “Pregnancy Centers” in Grand Junction are not real medical clinics.

The “Pregnancy Centers” in Grand Junction offer only self-administered pregnancy tests — which are available without prescription at drug stores — and anti-abortion pregnancy options. The two fake “pregnancy centers” in G.J. are at

  • 704 Elm Ave. and
  • 930 Main Street in Grand Junction.
  • The Delta Pregnancy Resource Center at 523 Dodge St., Delta, CO, is also not a real medical clinic.

The only real medical clinic near Grand Junction that offers medically-accurate sexual and reproductive health information and all applicable services is Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains in Glenwood Springs, located at 50923 Hwy 6 & 24, Glenwood Springs, CO 81601. Their phone number is (970) 945 – 8631 and their website is here.

Here is a list of the services, treatments and personnel Planned Parenthood offers. Note that care is not limited to women:

  • Abortions, pre- and post-abortion patient education, post-abortion follow-up exams, referrals for other abortion services (as needed), ultrasounds.
  • Birth control;
  • Emergency contraception (morning-after pill);
  • Pregnancy testing and services (adoption referrals, fertility awareness education, post-partum exams);
  • STD testing, treatment, and vaccination;
  • HIV testing;
  • Women’s healthcare (breast exams, cervical cancer screenings, hormone replacement therapy, mammogram referrals, menopause testing and treatment, pap test,
  • Urinary tract infection (UTI) testing and treatment, vaginal infection testing and treatment);
  • Men’s healthcare (colon cancer screening, jock itch exam and treatment, testicular and prostate cancer screening, urinary tract infection (UTI) testing and treatment);
  • General healthcare (anemia testing, cholesterol screening, diabetes screening, high blood pressure screening, thyroid screening, smoking cessation).
  • Certified Medical Personnel
  • Medical doctors and registered nurses

You can also get free answers to any sexual health questions from trained sexual health educators by chat online or text  by texting “PPNOW” to 774636 (PPINFO).

If you’re less than 10 weeks pregnant, you can also get a telemedicine abortion using the abortion pill from Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains. For information click here.

Gov. Polis issues mandatory state-wide mask order. Here’s where to report businesses that don’t obey it.

Governor Jared Polis issued an order effective at midnight last night mandating every Colorado citizen over 10 years of age to wear face masks when doing business in public indoor places. The order says that no business serving the public in a public indoor space “may provide service to a customer, or allow a customer to enter or move within that indoor space, unless the customer is wearing a face covering.”

Seeking to quell partisan bickering over the order, Polis said,

“The virus doesn’t care what political party you belong to. The virus doesn’t care what belief system you have. The virus doesn’t care. The virus is the virus and it is a threat to every single one of us.”

Under the conditions immediately predating the mask rule, if nothing was done, Colorado was on a trajectory to exceed the number of intensive care beds available by September.

In new documentary, “Jane Roe” of the 1973 Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision reveals she was paid to switch sides in the abortion debate


In a new documentary released Friday, May 22, Norma McCorvey, the plaintiff in the landmark 1973 Supreme Court ruling in Roe V. Wade, reveals that she was paid by anti-abortion factions to switch her position from supporting to opposing abortion rights for women.

Need an abortion in Grand Junction? Here is information.

If you are pregnant and looking for an abortion in Mesa County, you may find that information about abortion services is very hard to find here. Local obstetrical practices don’t mention abortion on their websites and may not even offer abortion services. The “Pregnancy Center” is one of many fake health clinics that lure women by promising free services, like pregnancy tests, ultrasounds and “counseling,” but their real purpose is to shame and guilt women out of getting abortions. The closest provider of safe medical abortions is 90 miles away in Glenwood Springs.

But don’t despair.

Thanks to the internet, there are now options for women to access abortion services no matter where they are.

County Commissioner Candidate Janet Rowland endangers public health with misleading, Q-Anon-linked posts on social media

Rowland posted this article from a media outlet based in Luxembourg to support her view that there is no significant risk of catching Coronavirus from grocery shopping. The findings of the German doctor cited in this article have not been published in any peer-reviewed journal. Meanwhile, least 30 grocery workers in the U.S. have died from Coronavirus so far. 3,000 more are out sick with coronavirus symptoms.

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.

As many as a third of responders to Daily Sentinel survey fail to grasp the seriousness of the Covid-19 pandemic

Daily Sentinel poll

The Daily Sentinel published results of a non-scientific online poll today asking readers for their opinions of the ongoing stay-at-home order due to the Coronavirus pandemic. About 72 percent of people said they agree with the order and are obeying it. Twenty one percent say they’re following the stay-at-home order even though they think it’s “over the top,” and 7 percent say they are not following the order at all because they think it’s “too extreme” or “unnecessary.”

This means about a third of people in our area aren’t really grasping the seriousness of this pandemic.

That’s scary.

Grand Junction family doc starts Facebook page to answer questions about COVID-19

Dr. Elvi Whiteford

Dr. Elvi Whiteford of Appleton Clinics has started a Facebook page called “Medical Providers Keeping GJ Educated and Supported,” where people can go to get authoritative answers to questions about the COVID-19 virus and efforts to cope with the pandemic.

Dr. Whiteford is a family medicine doctor who was born and raised in Grand Junction. She got her M.D. from Loma Linda University School of Medicine in 2000 and has practiced here since 2008. She set up the Facebook page as an educational forum where people can get the most accurate, timely and factual medical updates on COVID-19. The page does not seek donations or take requests for care, but rather is just a place to get authoritative, science-based answers to questions and share the most up to date information possible.

Here is an example of the kind of questions Dr. Whiteford is getting, and the answers she is giving:

Rep. Tipton votes to cut Medicaid, CHIP

House Rep. Scott Tipton has voted against financial transparency in government, against protecting citizens’ access to health insurance, against working families and to protect wealthy Americans and keep their taxes low. He’s up for re-election this year.

On February 6, 2020 House Rep. Scott Tipton voted in favor of cutting funding for Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), federal programs that cover poor children, pregnant women, the elderly and disabled people with health insurance who could not otherwise afford it.

Tipton voted “no” on House Resolution 826 (HR-826), a measure brought by Democrats that condemned Trump’s cuts to the federal safety net programs that protect Americans who have fallen on hard times.

Taking away health insurance

More than one million children have lost Medicaid and CHIP health insurance coverage under President Trump, and over 750,000 adults have lost Medicaid coverage. Trump’s latest budget calls for even more cuts to Medicaid and the and Affordable Care Act, and it includes deep cuts to Social Security and Medicare, while extending tax cuts for wealthy people, despite his promise he would not touch Social Security or Medicare.

Reproductive Rights Road Show to be in Grand Junction 10/4 at CMU

The Colorado Reproductive Health Rights and Justice Coalition will be putting on a Reproductive Rights Roadshow at Colorado Mesa University on Friday, October 4 from 12 noon – 1:30 p.m. in Room 221 of the University Center building, on the 2nd floor attached to the parking garage. Appetizers will be served!

The Roadshow is traveling around the state to inform Colorado citizens about what is happening in the legislature and what’s being done in our community to preserve and strengthen reproductive rights and access to abortion care. The Coalition also wants to listen to you and find out what issues are of greatest concern to people here in our community.

The Coalition is an umbrella group comprised of the National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL), Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains, the Colorado Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, the Interfaith Alliance of Colorado, the American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado (ACLU-CO), New Era Colorado, ProgressNow Colorado and Soul2Soul Sisters.

One more thing about commissioner candidate Janet Rowland…

Former County Commissioner Janet Rowland (January 2005 – January 2013) advocated a program that paid women with drug addictions $300 to get sterilized

Former Mesa County Commissioner Janet Rowland, who has already had two terms in the recent past and is now running for a third term, has given Mesa County voters plenty of reasons not to elect her again, but here’s another one, and get ready. This one is kind of creepy.

In 2008, Rowland promoted a program that paid drug-addicted women $300 to get sterilized so they couldn’t reproduce. The program, called Project Prevention, targeted its advertising mainly at women, and 37% of the women who had been sterilized under the program were African-American. In 2009, African-Americans made up just 12.4% of the U.S. population.

Colorado bill would prohibit teaching religious doctrine in public school sex ed curriculum

Colorado State Senator Don Coram

Delta County School District, are you listening?

Colorado State Senator Don Coram, a Republican who represents Montrose and Ouray counties, is a sponsor of HB19-1032, “Comprehensive Human Sexuality Education,” a bill to prohibit sex ed instruction in K-12 public schools from “explicitly or implicitly teaching or endorsing religious ideology or sectarian tenets or doctrines, using shame-based or stigmatizing language or instructional tools, employing gender norms or gender stereotypes, or excluding the relational or sexual experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender individuals.”

The bill would appropriate least $1 million annually for a grant program to carry out the new law, and it would give highest priority for the grant funds to rural public schools.

Why is this bill needed? Because of the Delta County School District.

Mail order abortion pills now available in the U.S.

Need a safe abortion even though it’s hard to get one in or around Grand Junction?

Now there’s an answer, if you’re healthy and less than 9 weeks pregnant.

The Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice announced that mail order abortion pills are now available in the U.S. through the Dutch website AidAccess.org.

AidAccess is a private initiative by a committed team of medical doctors and longterm abortion rights activists. The website is supported by a team of English and Spanish-speaking help-desk members. The goal of AidAccess.org is to assist women who don’t have access to locally available abortion services.

AidAccess was established a decade or so ago by Dr. Rebecca Gomperts, acting on the conviction that laws do not control whether or not abortions happen, the only thing laws can control is whether or not they happen safely.

Aid Access helps arrange for abortion pills to be shipped to patients around the world, and last October, as a result of growing requests and tightening abortion laws, the organization started arranging for the shipping of abortion pills to the United States.