COVID-19 Spike in Mesa County, GJ City Employees Test Positive

Local News

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo.- In the last two weeks, Mesa County Public Health reports a 2.5 percent positivity rate in recent COVID-19 tests.

County health officials say things will start to get very concerning if that number hits five percent. Mesa County must remain under five percent positivity for a two week period, otherwise processes will begin by the state to help the county mitigate the rise in cases. If cases still continue to increase, the county could be at risk of losing its variance.

Additionally, Grand Junction city officials released information Monday afternoon, saying several staff in the utilities department have tested positive. Mesa County Public Health Director Jeff Kuhr is concerned about the spike in cases across the county.

“Actually the past five days, it’s affecting our positivity rate by about one percent,” Kuhr said. “Next to come I fear, is going to be increased hospitalizations.”

Kuhr says if cases keep rising, what would likely happen is indoor public spaces will have to reduce their capacity numbers. But Kuhr feels the rise in cases could be linked to people not following best practices in terms of COVID-19 precautions such as mask wearing and social distancing.

“It’s people that are out and about because it’s the unknown source and private gatherings,” Kuhr said. “And then they’re going home because our family transmission is super high right now.”

The spike in cases impacts city government as well. Grand Junction city officials reported Monday afternoon four employees within the water treatment division in the city utilities department have tested positive for COVID-19.

“We have over 650 employees so as those case counts go up within the community, our employees are members of the community so this is expected,” said Greg Caton, Grand Junction City Manager.

Caton says these cases are not linked to one single facility, but rather across the entire water treatment division within the utilities department. Caton also says the overall disruption of day to day city business will be very minimal.

“The only service that has been impacted is we work with a number of other agencies to test their wastewater,” said Caton. “So we do testing in our laboratory for them. For the current period, those services are suspended.”

Caton adds, a robust plan has been put in place since the pandemic began to monitor city employee’s health, and be able to adapt quickly should city employees come down with COVID-19. Additionally, Caton says the employees who have tested positive work in positions where interaction with the public is very little to none at all.

You can view Mesa County’s COVID-19 data in real time here.

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