Tag: Pandemic

Daily Sentinel & Mesa County Public Health Department appear to take steps to shield CMU from criticism

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.

Buried towards the end of an article in today’s Sentinel about Covid cases in area schools was a reference to a situation in which a CMU student who was sick with Covid-19 and quarantined in Piñon Hall failed to get any food delivered for two days. The paper referred to the situation as “one minor communications issue” and made it sound like the student was to blame, along with a single poster in the dorm.

Quarantined CMU student reports not getting food, help or medical attention

New CMU President John Marshall (Photo: Twitter, @MesaVeep)

Colorado Mesa University (CMU) students currently being quarantined in Piñon Hall after being exposed to Covid-19, or who are currently sick with Covid, are telling their parents there is no one stationed in the dorm to help them, and that the school is not providing them with medical attention or even food.

Colorado Public Radio (CPR) published an article September 9 titled, “To vaccinate, or not to vaccinate. At Colorado Mesa University, that was the conversation,” about CMU President John Marshall’s hands-off approach to controlling the Coronavirus pandemic. Currently CMU does not require students to be vaccinated against Covid-19, or to use face coverings, and does not allow instructors to enforce mask-wearing in classrooms — a recipe to spread the Coronavirus, especially with the more communicable Delta variant widespread in Mesa County, and where, according to the Mesa County Public Health Department, only 25-29% of people between the ages of 19 and 29 are fully vaccinated against Covid-19.

The Agency of the Irresponsible

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.

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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.

Mesa County residents freaked out by CMU’s semester-kickoff superspreader event

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.

Officials at Memorial Regional Hospital in Craig say Rep. Boebert is ignorant about health care policy and it’s costing lives

In the wake of House Rep. Lauren Boebert refusing to wear a mask on the House floor, calling Covid-19 vaccine administrators “needle Nazis” and likening public health efforts to control the pandemic to “communism,” Andrew Daniels, Chief Executive Officer of Memorial Regional Hospital in Craig, Colorado, told a national news outlet (video) that he is “embarrassed that Lauren Boebert is his House Representative.”

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. 

G.J., Mesa County prominently featured in LA Times article about communities where vaccine holdouts are fueling spread of the pandemic

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.

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.

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.

Why installing Rose Pugliese as County Attorney is a crazy mistake

Rose Pugliese is the sole finalist being considered for County Attorney.

A top headline in yesterday’s Daily Sentinel announced that former Mesa County Commissioner Rose Pugliese is the sole finalist for the job of Mesa County Attorney, which, as of 2019 was the highest-paid job in the County.

Based on Pugliese’s qualifications, or lack thereof, this is nothing short of crazy, and it smacks loudly of cronyism by Mesa County’s Old Guard Republican Establishment (OGREs).

Pugliese won consideration as sole contender for the job despite having a track record that would probably get the rest of us fired.

Oh, where to begin?

What’s up with the four City Council candidates who are ditching forums and questionnaires?

An attendee at the “Stand for the Constitution Freedom Rally” last July 4 (Photo: Facebook). Stand for the Constitution endorses Haitz, Andrews, Green and McAllister, calling them “our candidates.”

Kristin Wynn of Citizens for Clean Air Grand Junction reported that her group has not received responses to questionnaires they sent to City Council candidates Mark McCallister, Kraig Andrews, Jody Green, and Greg Haitz. Nor did any of these candidates bother to respond to a short questionnaire from the Outdoor Recreation Coalition of the Grand Valley and none of them participated in the City Council Candidate Forums organized by the Western Colorado Alliance, which were held virtually on Zoom.

So why are these four candidates dodging public forums and refusing to answer City residents’ questions? And what do they all have in common that the other four candidates don’t?

For one thing, they are all endorsed by the local right-wing extremist group  “Stand for the Constitution,” who calls the slate of them “our candidates.”

Top 12 Coronavirus outbreaks in Grand Junction all traced to churches

Mesa County Public Health Department’s Feb. 5 list of Coronavirus outbreak sites

As predicted in this blog in early January, Grand Junction churches became super spreaders after they started holding in-person services again January 3rd.

Churches resumed holding indoor, in-person services and other activities after the state declared on December 7th, 2020 that churches are “critical services” and eliminated the cap on the number of people who could attend.

People started packing churches again in early January.

Backsliding

As of today, all twelve of the top outbreak sites on Mesa County Public Health Department’s Covid-19 outbreak list are churches. The daily case count reached into the triple digits again yesterday after weeks of two-digit number daily case counts.

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.

Petition asks the Mesa County Public Health Dept. to enforce mask mandate at Mesa Mall

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:

State Senator Ray Scott refuses to wear mask in Village Inn, lectures waiter not to enforce rule, saying “WE make the laws”

State Senator Ray Scott, who has a track record of being rude to his constituents, getting sued by the ACLU for blocking constituents on social media and getting slapped with a formal ethics complaint, recently displayed his legendary hubris again after he refused to put on a face mask while inside a Village Inn restaurant in Grand Junction.

The story was reported by the Colorado Times Recorder on December 21.

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.

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.

CMU President Tim Foster appears to have quietly un-endorsed Janet Rowland

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.

Tim Foster endorses anti-science candidate with a track record of plagiarism for Mesa County Commissioner

“Principled”? Tim Foster’s endorsement of anti-science, documented plagiarist Janet Rowland for Mesa County Commissioner. (Screen shot taken from Janet Rowland’s Facebook page on 8/19/20.)

Tim Foster wants to make one thing clear: he is endorsing Janet Rowland for Mesa County Commissioner not in his capacity as longtime President of Colorado Mesa University (CMU), but strictly as an individual.

Well, Okay.

While he certainly has the right as a private citizen to endorse Rowland, doing so nevertheless makes Mesa County residents scratch their heads and wonder why Foster, who everyone knows heads a local university with a Nursing Program, Graduate Nursing Programs and a Physician Assistant program, would endorse an anti-science candidate who actively promotes Q-Anon-based anti-mask disinformation on her social media.

It seems incongruous. Rowland’s posts directly conflict with guidance issued by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control for controlling the pandemic. All this is going on while CMU is making a monumental effort at a tremendous expense to get students and staff to comply with strict on-campus masking and physical distancing rules to minimize the potential public health threat posed by CMU’s opening the school year with in-person learning amid the deadly Covid-19 pandemic.

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.