Tag: public health

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.

Rep. Lauren Boebert wants government to take orders from the church

U.S. House Representative Lauren Boebert of Colorado, speaking at a conference held September 13 by the Truth and Liberty Coalition, cast Democrats as the  enemy and called on God to remove ungodly leaders in Washington, D.C. and instead “install righteous men and women of God” who understand that government should be taking orders from the church, and not the other way around. 

“It’s time the church speaks up. The church has relinquished too much authority to government. We should not be taking orders from the government; the government needs to be looking at the church and saying, ‘How do we do this effectively?”

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.

CMU President John Marshall’s spin on the Israeli study matches TheGatewayPundit’s spin on the same study

The information CMU President John Marshall promoted in an email about an un-peer-reviewed Israeli study, and the key information that he left out, matches that of the right wing conspiracy website TheGatewayPundit.com (Photo: Twitter @maverickprez)

On August 27, 2021, the conspiracy website TheGatewayPundit.com posted an article strongly promoting a “new study out of Israel” that touted natural immunity against Covid-19 over the immunity provided by vaccines. The Gateway Pundit article headline said people who have recovered from COVID-19 have more protection against the virus than people who’ve only been vaccinated. The study the website pointed to as the source of this information was the very same un-peer reviewed Israeli preprint on MedRxIv.org with a warning label that CMU President John Marshall pointed to as the basis for his August 30 “Campus Safety” email to staff promoting the protective value of natural immunity to Covid-19.

CMU President John Marshall cites unreliable preprint as a basis for the school’s weak Covid-19 response

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)

New Colorado Mesa University (CMU) President John Marshall on August 30 cited a non-peer-reviewed study that bears a boldfaced warning label saying it might contain errors and be incorrect, as a basis for the school’s disturbingly weak mitigation plan against Covid-19 that is terrorizing staff.

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. 

Group petitions District 51 to use stronger Covid-19 protocols this fall

National news report on July 27 says current guidance is that all teachers, staff, students and visitors to schools should wear masks regardless of vaccination status, especially indoors in Covid hot spots. Mesa County is a Covidhot spot for the more contagious Delta variant.

Supporters for Open and Safe Schools (SOS), a group of Mesa County residents who are alarmed by the lax Covid-19 prevention protocols School District 51 put in place for this fall, is challenging the District’s “2021-22 Keeping Schools Open Plan” as insufficient to keep students and the surrounding community safe from COVID outbreaks and school closures amid a continuing pandemic.

District 51 announced its “Keeping Schools Open” plan on July 16, but the plan does not require students or staff to wear face coverings. Instead it makes masking optional, lets unvaccinated visitors onto schools grounds without wearing face coverings and only encourages, and does not require, staff and students over 12 years to be vaccinated against Covid-19.

15 year old Florida Covid patient who did not get the opportunity to get vaccinated

Currently children under 12 are not eligible for the Covid-19 vaccine, making them more susceptible to infection, especially with more transmissible Delta variant that spread rapidly in Mesa County after the County Commissioners ended all Covid protections in the county last spring. Currently only 43 percent of Mesa County adults over 12 years of age are fully vaccinated, far lower than the statewide average of 54 percent.

Mesa County has already had one pediatric COVID death.

Protest planned for GOP event in G.J. featuring House Reps. Jim Jordan and Lauren Boebert

House Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio)

The Mesa County Republican Party is hosting an event this coming Saturday, July 24, 2021 at 6:00 p.m. the Grand Junction Convention Center that features House Reps. Lauren Boebert and Jim Jordan (Ohio). The event starts at 6:00 p.m. Tickets are $125-$225.

Several groups, including the Mesa County Democrats, are asking people to turn out to protest the event.

Rep. Jordan is a former wrestling coach at Ohio State University (OSU) who former university students accuse of helping cover up sexual abuse by the team doctor, Richard Strauss. A multi-million dollar investigation by OSU revealed Strauss had molested “at least 177 males students” between 1979 and 1996. Jordan worked at the university during that time, from 1987-1995. Six former wrestlers say Jordan knew about the molestation and didn’t do anything. A wrestling referee said he reported the abuse to Jordan but Jordan didn’t do anything to help the victims. Some students report that Jordan asked them to help cover up the abuse. The whistleblower who first exposed the abuse said he got a phone call from Jordan “begging” and “crying” to him not to corroborate accounts of the abuse.

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.

Commissioners ask governor to end supplemental federal benefits for unemployed County residents

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.

15.8% of Mesa County’s population lives below the federal poverty line, more than the poverty rate for the state as a whole, at 11.5%. The 2018 Federal Poverty Level for annual income is $16,147 for an individual and $33,383 for a family of four.

To be sure, the Mesa County Commissioners aren’t living on wages like that. They make around $90,000/year when perks like health insurance are included.

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.

Have you ever helped reverse a drug overdose? If so, your story is needed.

The University of Colorado Denver’s Anthropology Department is looking for Coloradans who have attempted to reverse a drug overdose and who are willing to tell their stories in a digital storytelling project for the benefit of Colorado.

The goal of the project is to increase knowledge about the role the use of drugs like Naloxone and Narcan play in reducing opioid overdoses in Colorado. These personal stories will be recorded and used to increase awareness of the importance of these drugs in helping to reduce the opioid overdose epidemic in the state. The project will also benefit opioid users who are at risk of suffering an overdose.

Delta County right wingers fight the prospect of teaching medically-accurate sex ed in Delta schools; Gay groups to rally in support this Thursday

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.)

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?

Application by Cindy Ficklin to be D-51 Superintendent raises alarm

Cindy Ficklin (L), an applicant for the job of D-51 School Superintendent, flashes the hand signal of the “Three Percenters” militia while scuba diving in Hawaii. (Photo credit: Facebook). Right photo & caption are from Wikipedia. The Anti-Defamation League lists this gesture as a racist hand sign. [UPDATE 2/20/21]: We have since been informed that in the context of scuba diving, this symbol is used to say a diver is “OK.” That was likely the case in this scenario, although since Mesa County is largely a desert, very right wing politically, has numerous elected officials who have in fact advanced QAnon theories and Trump’s lies about the election, and since few people here scuba dive, many people interpreted this symbol in its political context rather than its scuba diving context.]

Grand Junction real estate agent Cindy Ficklin submitted an application February 10 to become District 51 Superintendent, raising alarm bells among people familiar with her extremist views.

Who is Cindy Ficklin?

Ficklin is a 40-something GOP firebrand known for her extremist right wing views and her outspoken manner.

In a red-meat speech she gave on July 4, 2020 to a mostly un-masked crowd at the “Stand for the Constitution Freedom Rally” in a local park, Ficklin railed against masking and contact tracing — the only tools available to control the Coronavirus. She said that “CDC guidelines for opening schools … are literally formed of human torture and child abuse,” and spread the false narrative that government was forcing vaccines on people. She railed against public health recommendations to “stay home to stay safe” and whipped up anger at community efforts to control the virus, saying “the new normal” we’re all living with is “an attempt to infringe on our civil rights.”