Tag: Pandemic

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.

People who won’t get vaccinated are continuing to act as if everything was normal again, too. They are gathering, recreating, shopping and engaging in other activities without taking Covid precautions. Country Jam is right around the corner, frightening residents with its outsized potential to be a big Covid-spreading event.

Local hospitals have reported they are full and diverting patients. This is happening because of an excess of Covid-19 cases among unvaccinated people.

Contrary to popular belief, the pandemic is not over. It is still here and still spreading, and now with the more transmissible and virulent Delta variant. That, combined with the large number of unvaccinated people here is making our area’s hospitals  fill up with Covid patients along with all the other seasonal emergencies the hospitals usually get, like hiking and rafting accidents, for example — to the point where they have to occasionally refuse to take any more patients.

This means that if you or a member of your family unexpectedly require hospitalization, there may not be a bed here because the hospitals are clogged with Covid-19 patients, and you’ll have to drive somewhere else in the state to get them admitted to a hospital.

This is a distinct threat to all Mesa County residents, and it’s all attributable to the county’s widespread and grossly uninformed far right wing beliefs.

Those same beliefs are now dragging our economy, down, too.

In a June 13 Daily Sentinel article, Robin Brown, Executive Director of the Grand Junction Economic Partnership, said our area’s low vaccination rate is now hurting economic growth, too. Brown said businesses that were considering moving to or expanding to Mesa County are pulling out because of our low vaccination rate.  Mesa County Public Health Department Director Jeff Kuhr explained why:

A typical misinformed conversation on Facebook about the pandemic and the Covid-19 vaccine in Mesa County

Mesa County’s unvaccinated people form the majority of the pool of potential employees, and when unvaccinated people get exposed to Covid-19, they have to quarantine for 10 days. As employees, they’d be forced to miss work. Unvaccinated employees are at a far greater risk of getting Covid-19, too, particularly with the more transmissible Delta variant running amok in the community now. Infected employees have to take sick leave.

People who are vaccinated don’t have to quarantine after being exposed to the virus, so why would any business consider moving here when they can move to one of the other counties where over 70% of people are already vaccinated, and where the potential for this added expense and uncertainty is far less of a factor than it is here?

If people don’t get vaccinated, we’re out of tools to control the pandemic

Mesa County held its own in the pandemic throughout 2020, but the County Commissioners ended public health protections early this spring when they issued their “Free to Choose” resolution, which says (and I paraphrase): “Well, we did what we could to get the pandemic under control and now we’re done with that. The economy is more important than people’s health, so now people can go do whatever they want.”

The resolution eliminated mandatory masking and physical distancing, but because the County has now summarily ditched the only other tools we had to keep people from getting infected with Covid-19, and since most adults in Mesa County are unvaccinated, we are left with ZERO tools to further control the pandemic. This hands the virus a big pool of unvaccinated bodies it will continue to infect and through which it can continue to spread, and that is exactly what it is doing right now.

The virus will continue to flourish here and keep us in a perpetual state of pandemic for the foreseeable future because we have a large and deeply misinformed population that harbors outlandish, unsubstantiated and often conspiratorial far right wing beliefs about the virus and the vaccine that keeps them from getting it.

Headlines tell the story of what Mesa County is now facing:

One of County Commissioner Janet Rowland’s Fox News Facebook posts from her campaign, spreading misinformation about the Covid pandemic

One of the rationales the Commissioners gave to justify their “Free to Choose” initiative was that we had flattened the curve, and hospital bed use in Mesa County was down so hospital capacity was no longer an issue.

Well, not any more.

On May 24th, St. Mary’s and Community Hospital both announced they were full and turning away patients. Community Hospital confirmed that the increase in the number of Covid-19 patients was a factor.

The same far right wing beliefs are now especially endangering kids in our area, and in particular kids under 11, who can’t get the Covid vaccine yet.

Twelve counties in Colorado have succeeded in meeting President Biden’s goal of getting over 70% of their residents vaccinated, taking those areas a long way towards ending the pandemic and getting back to normal where they are.

But that’s not happening here.

On June 9, the Mesa County Public Health Department issued an alert warning of widespread transmission of the Delta variant of Covid-19. The alert pointed out the particular danger this is posing to kids:

“Mesa County’s COVID-19 case data over the most recent 14 day period shows the most infections in the 10-19 age group (138). Another 50 cases have been in individuals age 0-9 in the last two weeks.”

The Delta variant now proliferating in our midst is 50% more transmissible and kids under 12 in in our county are ineligible for the Covid-19 vaccine, making kids bear the brunt of the local right wing culture’s mistaken beliefs, and the County Commissioners’ bad decisions.

Mesa County’s Covid-19 vaccination rate lags far behind the rest of the state

Dr. Megan Stiner, a pediatrician with Primary Care Partners in G.J. said on KKCO 11 News this evening that their practice has been seen a very large uptick in the number of kids presenting with Covid-19 over the last month, far more than they have seen in the course of the entire pandemic so far.

This is not abstract. Kids in Mesa County are suffering badly as a result of the decisions the politically right wing adults in this county are making, and most particularly the County Commissioners, whose job is to protect them.

Are you part of the problem? Take this quiz and see:

So what are those far right wing beliefs that are making masses of Mesa County residents refuse to get vaccinated against Covid-19?

Take this quiz and see:

  1. Do you think Donald Trump is going to ride a unicorn back into the White House this August?
  2. Do you think the health department is using Covid-19 vaccinations to inject microchips into people for Bill Gates, or to make people magnetic?
  3. Do you think the Covid-19 vaccines aren’t really vaccines because after you get vaccinated you still have to maintain physical distancing and wear a mask in some circumstances?
  4. Have you attended local presentations that featured speakers who have been formally charged with fraud and deception, charged with other crimes, or

    Another example of a typical misunderstanding among the local right wing populace of how vaccines work.

    gotten cease and desist orders from government agencies charged with protecting public health and safety?

  5. Have you read articles or watched videos that have been banned from public dissemination because they contain lies or try to extort money from low-information people by ginning up fear among them?
  6. Do you believe the virus was man-made, that the vaccination causes infertility or contains live virus, that masks don’t to work to help reduce transmission of it, that Covid-19 is no deadlier than the flu, that vitamins will cure Covid or that officials are exaggerating the death toll from the virus?
  7. Have you decided not to get the Covid-19 vaccination because, well, just you’re just going to show that goddamn government what’s what?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you are part of the problem.

It used to be that Mesa County’s far right wing culture and track record of people in office who relied on misinformation and hoaxes was something we could laugh off and joke about, but not any more.

Now it’s a deadly serious matter.

Mesa County will not be a livable community again in the same way we knew it until around 75-80% of the population is fully vaccinated, and now we have to face the fact that that may never happen here.

We’ll never get there because misguided, erroneous, uninformed right wing beliefs are making us one of the lowest-vaccinated counties in the nation.

Unless things change, we’re likely to stay there, too, and it is posing a real danger to our county, kids and our struggling economy.

 

 

 

 

 

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.