GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. – Rapidly increasing case counts have resulted in widespread community transmission of COVID-19. The term “community transmission” means there is a large volume of cases for which MCPH case investigators are unable to trace the source of the infections. “What that means is members of the community who are infected are passing this on to others without knowing it, and that’s where it becomes problematic,” said Heidi Dragoo, MCPH Epidemiology Program Manager.
Early in Mesa County’s COVID-19 response, community transmission and its impact on hospital capacity were a call to action, because they indicate a diminished ability to rein in the virus. Now, with widespread transmission, our community must once again take action to slow the spread of illness. “It’s a really concerning point; we need our entire community. The State assigns levels on the dial based on disease transmission and we are headed in the wrong direction at a rapid pace. The last thing we want is to have to take a significant step backward in our reopening process,” said Jeff Kuhr, Executive Director of Mesa County Public Health.
At the State’s direction, MCPH is implementing strategies to reduce illness in our community, including reducing group sizes at indoor and outdoor events. The following restrictions have been added to the local Public Health Orderand are in place immediately:
- Outdoor Events may occur with no more than 75 people per designated activity or area.
- Personal Gatherings are limited to 10 people from no more than 2 households.
- Indoor Events may occur with no more than 25 people per room.
- An indoor event is defined as an organized activity that is beyond the normal operations of a facility or establishment. Generally, the event has a specific date, time, and location. The event organizer rents or reserves space for the activity to take place; and the facility or establishment provides a specific area for the event and does not allow the general public to enter the reserved area. Examples include receptions, concerts, dances, markets/fairs, and celebrations.
On October 26, Mesa County moved to Safer at Home Level 1: Cautious on the dial, which has five levels to guide county response to COVID-19. Levels are based on the number of new cases, the percent positivity of COVID tests, and the impact on hospitals, as well as other local considerations.
“We have seen a tremendous uptick in COVID hospitalizations, which is very concerning,” said Chris Thomas, President and CEO for Community Hospital. “If the present trajectory continues, our ability to adequately respond could be compromised,” added Thomas.
Because cases are on the rise, MCPH has been directed by the State to implement these additional measures to prevent another move backward and avoid more restrictions across all industries.