In the wake of Commissioner Janet Rowland’s recent coup over the Mesa County Public Health Department, if the the past is a predictor of future behavior, under Rowland the Health Department is likely in for a significant reduction in its ability to respond to public health threats, and area residents will likely face more danger from emerging health threats.
The Mesa County Commissioners’ newly-appointed Chair of the Public Health Board, Stephen D. Daniels, has made it known that he is a strong supporter of anti-vax conspiracy theorist and presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. (RFK). In multiple posts on his social media accounts, Daniels urges people to be open to discussion about Kennedy’s views and believe what Kennedy has to say.
But does Daniels support what RFK told a table full of people last week at a press event in Manhattan (video), that the Covid-19 virus is “ethnically targeted” to attack Caucasians and Black people, and to spare Jews and Chinese people?
RFK’s comments were widely reported as being a “Bigoted new Covid conspiracy about Jews and Chinese” (NY Times), as being “deplorable” and “hurtful” (Fox News), as spreading “false claims” about Covid-19 (CBS News) and being “antisemitic and racist” (ABC News).
Specifically, RFK said in part,
“There is an argument that it [Covid-19] is ethnically targeted. COVID-19 attacks certain races disproportionately. COVID-19 is targeted to attack Caucasians and black people. The people who are most immune are Ashkenazi Jews and Chinese.”
If Mesa County Commissioner Janet Rowland gets her way, the new, temporary members recently intstalled on the Mesa County Board of Public Health (BOPH) will do the Commissioners’ bidding and fire longtime Mesa County Health Department Director Dr. Jeff Kuhr, even though there is insufficient evidence of any financial wrongdoing by Kuhr and even though a large majority of the local public thinks the county commissioners are engaging in a blatant overreach of their authority.
Mesa County Public Health Department (MCPHD) Director Dr. Jeff Kuhr has been under attack by the Mesa County Commissioners, who for some reason have been working for months to generate credible reasons to fire him. Commissioner Janet Rowland in particular has targeted Kuhr, accusing him of financial impropriety and grievous errors in MCPHD’s procurement processes. The Commissioners have ordered the Mesa County Board of Public Health to fire Kuhr, but they refused, saying there is no actual evidence that he’s intentionally done anything wrong. Not only that, but the State of Colorado rates MCPHD as having the lowest possible financial risk (pdf) in its compliance with federal and state contracts, making it clear that the state trusts MCPHD, but our right wing commissioners don’t. (This financial risk rating is done every three years, but the state skipped it during the pandemic. The MCPHD is currently undergoing this analysis again.)
A large number of Mesa County residents harbor the mistaken belief that the anti-parasitic drug Ivermectin, used to de-worm horses and prevent heart worm in dogs, can treat Covid-19, even though the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says this is not true.
The bogus idea that Ivermectin is effective against Covid was promoted locally by Grand Junction area chiropractors who spread medical misinformation about Covid-19, including one who urged people to buy livestock-strength Ivermectin and administer it to themselves as a Covid-preventative. Some local chiropractors spread medical misinformation and discouraged people from getting safe and effective vaccines against the disease as a way to help sell their own proprietary brand of supplements they claimed would prevent Covid-19. Members of the Mesa County Republican Party even introduced a resolution for their party’s platform to try to make Ivermectin an over-the-counter drug in Colorado.
After Ivermectin poisonings surged across the country in 2021 due to the spread of this dangerous misinformation, the FDA created an entire web page explaining why people should not use Ivermectin to try to prevent, treat or mitigate Covid-19.
Now there’s even more proof that using Ivermectin to treat Covid is pointless: A large-scale “gold standard” study on using Ivermectin to treat Covid was just published in the New England Journal of Medicine, and it concluded Ivermectin does not reduce the likelihood of hospitalization from Covid-19.
Taking a leaf from the QAnon playbook of turning school boards into battlegrounds for unhinged conservative politics, a woman named Gabriella Moorman threatened individual members of the Telluride School District board in San Miguel County as a way to rail against district policies that guided masking during the pandemic, sex education, Critical Race Theory (which is not taught in K-12 schools) and other practices and policies the school board has taken in the past.
Moorman wrote to board members that “you could lose your house, your cars, your job, your retirement, etc., if you DO NOT PAY ATTENTION. You are inviolation of multiple State, Federal and International laws … and you could be facing time in FEDERAL PRISON for your actions if you do not cease and desist.”
The District 51 School Board’s new conservative majority — Andrea Haitz, Angela Lema and Willie Jones — appear to be getting ready to fire School District Superintendent, Diana Sirko, Assistant Superintendent Brian Hill and Tracy Gallegos, the District’s Director of Equity and Inclusion, who was hired into that position in July, 2021.
The three Board members gave short notice about a special meeting to be held on Monday, February 5 at 5:00 p.m. discuss these three employees’ contracts with attorneys they just hired in January to serve as their own representatives: David Price and Tammy Eret of Hoskin, Farina and Kampf.
The Board members produced the agenda on Saturday evening, 2/5/22, and then quietly slipped it onto the School Board’s meeting website (pdf) on Sunday evening, 2/6/21.
The 7th-Street Deli has been saved!
The deli was threatened with eviction in mid-January for non-payment of back rent. The owner had suffered a prolonged 50% loss of business due to back-to-back renovation projects that took place on 7th Street in 2019 and 2020, and then got hit with the no-indoor dining order in 2020 from Covid. Deli owner Debbie Allen had made it through all those obstacles and was finally getting out of her debt when the property owner slapped her with an eviction notice and a lawsuit for tens of thousands in back rent. The deli started a GoFundMe account and donations poured in. By the end of January they had raised about $8,000, but it wasn’t enough to pay off all the back rent.
For many people, chiropractors are de facto primary health care providers, particularly in medically underserved rural areas like the western slope. Many people find it easier and more affordable to see a chiropractor than an M.D., and tend see their chiropractors far more often than they do M.D.s., generating familiarity and a relationship of trust with these health professionals. This puts chiropractors in a unique position to deliver vital public health information to a good portion of the community. They could, for example, be educating people about positive health behaviors, informing them about what’s scientifically proven to keep people safe from contracting Covid-19, telling people what works best to keep them of the hospital if they get Covid-19, and helping them know when to seek further medical care.
But instead of using their valuable position to benefit public health, it turns out many Grand Junction chiropractors are dispensing egregiously false medical information about vaccines and how to prevent Covid-19. And these chiropractors aren’t just flushing their value as a community public health asset down the toilet. They are lying to the people who support them financially and trust them the most, misleading people in very dangerous ways and often doing it for profit.
The above meme was sent out in an email blast last November 15, 2021 by the far right extremist group Mesa County Concerned Citizen.
The meme makes it clear that many Mesa County residents likely lack an understanding about how the transmission of respiratory diseases works — information that is massively important to our ability to bring the virus under control. This could be one reason why the coronavirus has been able to spread so efficiently in Mesa County, and why it is likely to persist here.
The 7th Street Deli just south of St. Mary’s Hospital may soon be forced to close its doors.
The restaurant has been there for 15 years, and has been owned and operated by Debbie Allen and her daughter for the last 8 years. It is woman-owned business and the only restaurant close to the hospital. Their food is damn good and now they might have to close.
On January 5th, the landlord who owns the Medical Arts complex where the deli is located threatened Debbie and her family with eviction by the end of the month for non-payment of rent. The eviction notice comes after the restaurant was faced with a long series of unfortunate events starting in 2018. It has been struggling to come back, and just as business is finally starting to improve again, now this.
How did they get into this position after having so much success for so long?
Former longtime KKCO weatherman Butch McCain, who was fired from KKCO last October after refusing to get a Covid-19 vaccine in compliance with his employer Gray TV’s Covid-19 vaccine policy, is now promoting the anti-vax group Stop the Mandate GJ, which is encouraging others in our area to also refuse the vaccine.
McCain now appears on the first page of StoptheMandateGJ’s website, talking in front of a fake weather map and saying in part,
“It’s not about Covid any more, it’s about forced compliance…Let’s be the resistance to their nationwide tyranny…
In October, 2021, the U.S. News and World Report revealed chiropractors are a major force stirring up anti-vaccine sentiment and spreading medical misinformation across the country in the pandemic. Often regarded as trusted health professionals, chiropractors who do this pose a potent threat to the public by hawking supplements as alternatives to vaccines, working to help people evade vaccine mandates, recommending unapproved and potentially toxic medication regimens to treat and prevent Covid, and abetting anti-vaccine movements at the local level.
That is certainly happening here in Grand Junction, too.
Grand Junction chiropractor Wesley Sheader of New Life Chiropractic at 2532 Patterson Road is giving people trying to evade Covid-19 vaccine mandates a unique way to evade the jab: he suggests they join an unvaccinated study control group which can issue them an official-looking ID card saying they can’t be vaccinated because they are a participant in the study.
The only thing is, there is no study and the “control group” is a scam.
In its January 3, 2022 email blast, the local extreme right wing group “Mesa County Concerned Citizen” included a plug for “The Defense Box,” an item selling online that contains about $60 worth of common over-the counter items like Pepcid, Listerine, Vitamin C and baby aspirin, that costs $182.36, including shipping and tax.
The group says the items are an “early and effective treatment option” for Covid-19.
None of the items in the box are approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for the treatment, prevention, mitigation or cure of Covid-19.
In a video on his business web page under the heading “Covid Treatments,” Grand Junction chiropractor Ronald Engler of the Redlands Chiropractic and Wellness Center administers horse deworming medication to himself and encourages others to do the same to themselves, in violation of FDA guidance on use of the drug.
NOTE: This video has been banned on YouTube previously for posing a serious risk of egregious harm. It was uploaded again here for purposes of criticism in this article. We’ll see if it lasts.
While some Grand Junction chiropractors are profiting from the pandemic by marketing proprietary dietary supplements that they falsely infer will prevent or treat Covid-19, others are using their credibility as health care providers to openly promote dangerous medical misinformation to the public.
One of these is Ronald W. Engler of the Redlands Chiropractic and Wellness Center.
“I recommend taking the vaccines. It’s good. I did it. Take the vaccines.”
“The vaccines do work and they are effective.” — Sept. 1, 2021
— Donald Trump
An NPR analysis of more than 100,000 people across the country showed that people who live in counties that voted 60% or more for Trump in the November, 2020 election had 2.73 times higher death rate from Covid-19 than counties that voted for Biden. Counties with an even higher share of the vote for Trump have even higher death rates from COVID-19.
65% of Mesa County voters voted for Trump in the 2020 election.
Mesa County, obviously a strongly pro-Trump county, would appear to be a death trap. Our County is sadly is averaging more than a death a day from Covid-19. Eighty-five percent of people admitted to local hospitals for Covid-19 are still unvaccinated.
Rimrock Wellness Center, a chiropractic office at 12th and Patterson that also sells fat-loss treatments and supplements, has the same street address as “Stop the Mandate GJ,” the group agitating to stop hospitals, nursing homes and doctors’ offices from requiring health workers be vaccinated against Covid-19, the highly communicable, often deadly disease causing the pandemic. At the same time it is encouraging people to remain unvaccinated, Rimrock Wellness Center is also trying to profit off unvaccinated people’s fear of getting Covid-19, as well as their misperceptions of the relative safety and efficacy of Covid-19 vaccines.