The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel and Mesa County Public Health Department appear to be shielding Colorado Mesa University from public criticism over its handling of the Coronavirus pandemic by minimizing and obscuring information about Covid outbreaks and how the school is handling cases.
New CMU President John Marshall has never published a single article in a peer-reviewed journal, and appears oblivious to the importance of the peer-review process in citing medical research as the basis for campus health policy. (Photo: Twitter, @MesaVeep)
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.
CMU’s held its freshman orientation semester kickoff event in an indoor gym without taking any coronavirus precautions, like masking or physical distancing.
No masks, no physical distancing, lots of open-mouths and yelling among the younger crowd, the age range currently being most infected with the more dangerous delta variant of Covid-19
Mesa County residents are horrified by photos Colorado Mesa University (CMU) gleefully posted on it’s Facebook page yesterday showing the school held a jam-packed, high-energy indoor semester-kickoff event without taking any coronavirus precautions.
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.
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.
At their public hearing on Monday, July 12, 2021, the Republican Mesa County Commissioners voted to officially request Governor Jared Polis end the supplemental unemployment benefits that have been helping keep unemployed and low income County residents and their families afloat during the pandemic.
Why? Because they want to force people to go back to work to fill mostly low paying, often difficult and dangerous front line jobs, often where people are likely to be exposed to the virus and would risk exposing their families to it as well.
Conservatives in Delta are working to oppose the teaching of medically-accurate sex ed in Delta County schools
Delta County conservatives are in a tizzy over the prospect that their school district may implement a medically-accurate, comprehensive sex education curriculum in compliance with a new Colorado law passed in 2019.
Until recently, the Delta County Schools’ only consistent “sex education” curriculum consisted of presentations by a woman named Shelly Donahue, a Christian abstinence-only speaker whose talk relied heavily on shame, guilt and medically-inaccurate information. Donahue likened girls brains to cooked spaghetti and boys brains to toaster waffles. The slides in her show were sprinkled with crosses, and she told kids that having premarital sex put them “further from God.” Donahue’s $2,000 speaking fee was picked up by a Christian missionary group. One Oklahoma school district has banned Donahue from speaking because students said her talks were demeaning to girls and children from broken homes. (For more on Shelly Donahue and the Delta County School District, search on “Shelly Donahue” in the AnneLandmanblog search box on right side of any page.)
A Move-On.org petition is asking the Mesa County Health Department to enforce the state-wide mask mandate inside the Mall.
The petition states,
Covid-19 is spreading fast and hard through Mesa County. Many people are still not taking the threat seriously. It is putting [Mall] employees, tenants, and guests at a ridiculously high risk of catching and spreading the virus. The effects are dangerous and deadly and we have a moral and social imperative to do what we can to keep each other safe. The Mesa Mall is responsible for the safety of those who enter it’s walls. If they can’t provide a safe place for people to work, shop, and visit, then they should shut down for the health and safety of our community.
A mask mandate is currently in place throughout Colorado to reduce the spread of the deadly, communicable Corona virus that is sweeping the country. It requires everyone 11 years and older to wear a face mask in enclosed public places. Masks are recommended anywhere people are sharing air.
How to effectively complain about businesses that aren’t enforcing the mask order:
According to the Times Recorder, the waiter approached Scott and told him that he would have to leave if he didn’t wear a mask inside the restaurant, Scott lectured the waiter by saying “Governors make rules, but WE make the law,” and explained the difference between a rule and a law. Scott then told the waiter he was being too “heavy handed” in enforcing the statewide masking rule.
Mesa County’s 5-Star program creates expectations that often aren’t met, and leaves it to patrons to police establishments for compliance, which can then lead to harassment, threats and intimidation against patrons who complain.
Mesa County has been touting it’s “Variance Protection” (“Five Star”) program as the key to keeping businesses open amid the pandemic, and while the goals of the program are laudable, the widespread lack of enforcement, particularly of masking requirements, can unfortunately create a climate of additional threats to patrons, and not just to their health.
The unchecked community spread of Coronavirus, high number of hospitalizations and rising deaths from Covid-19 in the county has led the Mesa County Commissioners to finally issue a press release Nov. 13 urging all Mesa County residents to wear masks whenever they patronize local businesses, avoid close contact with others and avoid indoor gatherings. The release is headlined “Commissioners encourage community members to wear a mask.”
The Commissioners are now putting their support behind an all-out effort to raise awareness of the public health emergency the virus is causing in our community, get people to take the situation seriously, keep local businesses afloat and help our area avoid more mandatory closures.
Mesa County Commissioners John Justman, Rose Pugliese and Scott McInnis all urge Mesa County residents to wear masks at all times when patronizing local businesses.
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.
Original endorsement ad Janet Rowland posted ad on her Facebook page that violated the Hatch and Fair Campaign Practices Acts. She later revised it to remove Foster’s title as President of CMU.
Colorado Mesa University (CMU) President Tim Foster appears to have quietly asked Mesa County Commissioner candidate Janet Rowland (R) to remove any mention of his name from her campaign Facebook page, effectively un-endorsing her — a reversal of his previous whole-hearted endorsement.
Graph showing the number of Covid-19 cases in Mesa County Covid over time, from March 1-July 31, 2020. The Mesa County Health Department does not have a graph like this on its Coronavirus information web page. The steep rise in cases recently is telling. (Chart credit: Tim Kozak)
Whether through oversight or intention, the Mesa County Health Department does not have a graph of cumulative cases of Covid-19 on its website, but such a graph can give a clear picture of how well or how poorly our county is doing in preventing spread of Corona virus, and show us where we are going under the current conditions. This chart provides that missing information.
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Commercial Tire Service at 725 23 1/2 Road has found a way to circumvent the Colorado’s recent public health order mandating everyone wear a face mask in indoor spaces to help stop the spread of the deadly Corona virus: They tacitly suggest with a sign at the entrance that everyone entering the business can simply claim they have an undisclosed medical reason why they can’t wear a mask.
Commercial Tire Service has a sign in their front window that says:
Those in our state government have ordered all persons entering indoor facilities to wear a mask. If you have a medical condition that prevents you from wearing a mask, you are exempt from the orders. Due to HIPAA and the 4th Amendment we cannot legally ask you about your medical condition. Therefore, if we see you without a mask, we will assume you have a medical condition. We welcome you inside to support our business.
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.