Gatherings Pose Community COVID Risk

Local News

MESA COUNTY, Colo. – Even without professional fireworks displays in Mesa County this year, people will still be coming together to recognize America’s most patriotic holiday, but a hidden hazard is threatening to sabotage the celebrations.

KREX 5’s Shelby Bracho spoke with Jeff Kuhr, the executive director of Mesa County Public Health Department, about how the community can prevent the spread of Coronavirus during the holiday weekend.

Kuhr said that July 4th celebrations and graduation parties this weekend pose a significant risk for Mesa County.

“It was our highest single day count that we’ve ever had,” said Kuhr.

On Thursday, Mesa County saw nine new cases of COVID-19, “but seven of them were all from a related source,” said Kuhr.

Since the pandemic began, “over half of our positive cases were discovered as a result of contact tracing or, you know, related to someone else who was positive,” said Kuhr.

Kuhr attributes this to proactive responses from the community when they’ve been at high-risk and the health department following up on positive cases with contact tracing.

“The sooner we know about someone who is infected and do that contact tracing, the sooner we can contain the spread of the virus,” said Kuhr.

Efforts that could be undermined if community members don’t gather responsibly.

“The indirect effects to us not behaving in a safe manner could be devastating to this community,” said Kuhr, “and our businesses are doing a great job, but the gatherings is where this could all really get past us quickly.”

Independence Day celebrations in combination with graduation parties over the weekend, could create a perfect storm for community spread.

“Oh gosh, what a great position we’re in and it’s ours to lose, we need to do our best as a community,” said Kuhr.

Mesa County Public Health is currently testing an average of 1,200 people every two weeks.

“If we have more than 5% of those 1,200 test show up positive, then we will be denied for that next variance application and if we start to raise 15%, then the state will take away what we currently have,” said Kuhr.

Potentially putting Mesa County in a situation that could greatly impact our economy, especially small businesses.

“They don’t deserve to have to shut down just because we aren’t participating in social distancing best practices,” said Kuhr, “I’m begging folks that when you’re gathering with friends and family, please everyone this weekend, be careful, practice those social distancing and cleaning best practices and let’s get through this with no additional cases.”

Small actions that could have a big preventative impact on our community.

“This is crucial, it means a lot to a lot of people so I just want our residents to think about it,” said Kuhr, “it’s not just about you and, you know, what you feel that you are entitled to, we need to protect our community we need to protect our elderly and or people with compromised immune systems.”

The Mesa County Public Health Department has updated guidelines for safe practices at private events. If you plan on hosting any gatherings this weekend, the health department asks that you follow these guidelines to help keep you, your guests and our community safe.

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