The following commentary on how Colorado Mesa University (CMU) is handling the coronavirus pandemic was written by CMU History Professor Sarah Swedberg, who is now experiencing CMU’s policies in person. This article was originally published on Nursing Clio, an open-access, peer-reviewed, collaborative blog that ties historical scholarship to present-day issues related to gender and medicine. The article is reprinted here with full permission from Dr. Swedberg.
Like many faculty at state universities, the beginning of this school year brings me more terror than excitement. Colorado Mesa University (CMU), the institution at which I have taught since 1999, will require neither masks nor vaccines for students, and faculty cannot enforce mask mandates in the classrooms. This flies in the face of best practices for public health. When I asked the reason for this policy, I was told that there were strong feelings on both sides.
“Strong feelings” is clearly code for the fact that CMU is in a politically conservative region where there is strong resistance to both vaccination and masks. These words remind us that public health measures have always been politicized. Because I teach about HIV and AIDS and because I was a young adult in the 1980s, it is that pandemic that is foremost in my mind as I try to negotiate my own and my students’ safety.
As if holding one massive superspreader event to kick off Colorado Mesa University’s fall ’21 semester wasn’t enough of a public health threat to students and the community, in today’s Daily Sentinel, CMU is advertising another big event on August 27th to be held inside the Meyer Ballroom in the University Center that involves eating, dancing and drinking alcohol.
The ad does not mention any coronavirus precautions being used at the event, like proof of a negative Covid-19 test, proof of being fully vaccinated against Covid-19, or masks or physical distancing.
His hospital was recently forced to re-open its Covid ward due to a resurgence in Covid cases in Moffat County, now considered a coronavirus hotspot due to high rate of community transmission and a low vaccination rate, similar to Mesa County.
Covid hotspots are in red. (Source: CDC/CNN)
Daniels, who described himself as a “super conservative,” said of Boebert,
“I’m embarrassed that she’s my representative. I think if you’re going to take a stance on health care policy, you might actually want to learn something about healthcare policy.”
Dr. Matthew Grzegozewski, Memorial Regional Hospital’s Director of Emergency Medicine struck a similar note, about Boebert, saying
“A lot of people are listening [to what Boebert] is saying and a lot of what she’s putting out there is ideology and in fact isn’t medically sound, and it’s putting people in danger and quite honestly costing people their lives, and it’s frustrating to have to fight against that.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
If you are pregnant and looking for an abortion in Mesa County, you may find 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. “Pregnancy Centers” are fake health clinics in the area that lure in scared and worried women by promising free services, like pregnancy tests, ultrasounds and “counseling,” but they are really Christian ministries whose real purpose is to shame and guilt women out of getting abortions.
But don’t despair. You may not have to leave town to obtain a safe abortion.
Thanks to the internet, there are now options for women to access abortion services no matter where they are, and you may even not have to leave home to get an abortion if you live in Grand Junction.
UPDATE: On December 16, 2021, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) permanently lifted restrictions on access to abortion medications by mail, making them more widely and easily available for use by women who are up to 10 weeks pregnant. The move allows women to obtain the pills by mail instead of having to appear in person at a clinic.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.