GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. — Mesa County is on average, 38 percent vaccinated right now while the county’s goal is to be at 70 percent by July. Is that a pipe dream? Public health officials remain hopeful as they continue to release new incentives, like Grand Junction’s ‘Big-Shot Giveaway’ and Colorado’s vaccine lottery.

Heather Ross with the Colorado Department of Public Health says there is a reason Mesa County is still seeing high infection rates, “Our county-level data across Colorado shows a pretty striking correlation between high vaccination rates and low infection rates. So, what you’re seeing in Mesa County right now is the opposite; you’ve got a low vaccination rate and a high infection rate,” she says.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the state currently has over 500,000 cases of COVID-19, with Mesa County having the lowest vaccination rate in Colorado’s most populated counties.

While the rate of vaccinations remains low, the number of hospitalized COVID patients is rising. From march 11th to June 9th, COVID hospitalizations have gone up forty percent, according to state and local health agencies.

Mesa County Public Health’s Jeff Kuhr is pleading with those who are not vaccinated to avoid crowds, wear a mask indoors, and wash your hands regularly, “I’m not going to sit here and say ‘everyone get vaccinated’. Right now, I’m asking people who are not vaccinated to do these things,” says Kuhr. He also reminds Mesa County residents that low vaccination rates are not the only threat to our health; the Delta variant is a new variant of the virus spreading rampantly in Mesa County.

“We’re not trying to convince you by saying it’s because we’re not getting vaccinated. We’ve got so many cases because we’ve got the Delta Variant right now, and we need to do something as a community to stop the spread,” Kuhr continues.

Public health officials believe the vaccine is both our ticket back to normalcy, and to safety.

To learn more about vaccines in Colorado visit Learn about COVID-19 vaccines | Colorado COVID-19 Updates.