Recent social media posts by District 51 School Board President Andrea Haitz, and one in particular that she posted on Mother’s Day, are drawing condemnation, disgust and shock from many Mesa County residents who saw them.
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.
It’s a beautiful spring day in Mesa County, and once again the time of year when palls of thick smoke from open burning envelope entire neighborhoods, turning beautiful, fragrant, warm spring days into days of physical illness, suffering and despair for Grand Valley residents.
With the biggest medical center between Denver and Salt Lake and a wide variety of retirement housing, Grand Junction has long been an attractive area for retirees. But many people who settle here are unaware of the archaic open burning tradition here that exacerbates health problems and can pose an extraordinary health threat to sensitive people with illnesses like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma, bronchitis and those who use supplemental oxygen for lung and heart disease.
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 anti-vaccine group StopTheMandateGJ had its Facebook page shut down January 7th for violating Facebook’s Community standards after Facebook started cracking down on “vaccine misinformation superspreaders” last fall. The group was organized by local chiropractors Greg Haitz and Daniel Vaden of the Rimrock Wellness Center at 12th and Patterson Road, and for months spearheaded protests outside hospitals, getting groups of people to wave signs against getting vaccinated against Covid-19.
The group is trying to get re-established on Facebook again, though, and this time the page administrator tells users how to use code for words like “vaccine” and “jab” to avoid getting shut down again. The admins also tell users how to link to articles and web pages containing misinformation without the links being detected by Facebook:
As the omicron surge recedes in Mesa County, people are starting to gather in large crowds for indoor events again, like meetings, concerts and parties. But is it safe?
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) suggests you take into account the type of gathering you’re considering attending: Is it a small gathering of just people you know, or will there be people there from multiple households or with whom you are unfamiliar? Large gatherings with more people from other places pose a higher danger of infection with Covid-19.
Take into account your risk level, and that of others near you: Do you have children under 5 years old at home who are unvaccinated? Or do you live with, visit or work with older people who have weaker immune systems or other health conditions? If you are around people who are vulnerable to the virus, your behavior, specifically carelessly exposing yourself to large crowds and failing to test for infection before spending time with them, can raise their risk of getting Covid-19, and even kill them, as it killed my dad last Friday.
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.
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.
Last month we noticed that Grand Junction chiropractor Greg Haitz of the Rimrock Wellness Center at 12th and Patterson, was marketing his own proprietary “Rimrock Wellness Center” brand of dietary supplement, “Immune Support Pack,” with a description that inferred the product could help mitigate or protect against Covid-19, or “C19”:
The National Institutes of Health currently warns Americans that
“Data are insufficient to support recommendations for or against the use of any vitamin, mineral, herb or other botanical, fatty acid, or other dietary supplement ingredient to prevent or treat COVID-19.”
At the same time, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is actively monitoring for firms that are marketing products using fraudulent claims that they can prevent, mitigate or treat COVID-19.
After the blog about this product was published, we noticed Haitz edited his “Immune Support Pack” web page to remove the descriptive paragraph previously seen above, and instead he had substituted a list of five published studies:
“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.
Haitz fraudulently promotes his own brand of supplement as protective against Covid-19
Republican House District 55 candidate Cindy Ficklin is using non-medically approved treatments for Covid-19, including the animal de-worming medication Ivermectin. She also says she is inhaling “silver and Glutathione” with a nebulizer to “prevent conjestion [sic] from hardening in my lungs.”
Anti-mask, anti-vaccination candidate for HD-55 Cindy Ficklin (R-Mesa County) announced December 19 on Facebook that she has contracted Covid-19 and is blaming it squarely on the U.S. government.
Ficklin announced she had the disease after emerging from a 30 day ban from Facebook. Facebook has banned Ficklin numerous times for spreading lies and conspiracy theories on her page. Ficklin has repeatedly asserted without proof that the SARS CoV2 virus was created in a laboratory to target obese, elderly and unfit people; she has spread lies about vaccine deaths and about public health physician Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Disease, profiting personally from the virus.