Mesa County Looks Forward to Gradual Reopening

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Grand Junction, Colo. – While County Commissioners approved a series of letters to be sent to Governor Polis, asking him to exclude Mesa County from his executive orders, Mesa County Public Health revealed the tentative plan to roll back “stay at home” orders.

This plan, which is broken up into 3 phases, includes allowing groups of no more than 10 people back into public places, reopening stores and businesses while requiring the use of masks and social distancing, and resuming elective surgeries. By stage 3, large public places such as movie theaters can reopen, but still with some sort of social distancing implemented. You can read the first draft of the plan on our website here.

But is Mesa County ready to reopen? Health experts in the community say it will be a gradual process, but it’s time that we made decisions for our population separate from the State.

“This isn’t the end, the case count sitting in the low 30’s for several days,” Dr. Bill Hilty, medical director of St. Mary’s emergency department warned at the briefing. “But we are very close to the end of the beginning.”

An end that is seen as the perfect benchmark for change. Monday morning, the Mesa County Commissioners announced they had penned a letter to Governor Polis, asking to be removed from his executive orders regarding COVID-19, and allow the county to rollback “stay at home” mandates on their terms.

“We at Mesa County want to control our own roll-out process, in a time that we think is best for our population,” Jeff Kuhr, Mesa County Public Health Director explained. Given the low case count for Mesa County, and the return of a number of COVID tests, all negative, the County says all signs point to reopening, but a gradual one.

“I certainly don’t want anyone to think, ‘It’s a decrease, so now we’re out of the woods,’ we’re not,” Kuhr said. “But I do think we’re at a point that we can open up some businesses, most all businesses I believe, as long as they practice these social distancing measures”.

The rollback would still include a degree of social distancing for a time, as well as the careful monitoring of a potential surge in cases. Dr. Hilty says this surge is expected.

“We’ve gotten ready to handle incredible surges that we wouldn’t have been able to handle a month ago,” Dr. Hilty said. “And, you know, St. Mary’s hospital has a capability that is three times what it was before.”

Although we may not see these gradual reopenings tomorrow, Mesa County wants to remind residents to continue the course and keep yourself and your neighbors safe. “I just ask everyone to please wear a mask when you’re out and about,” Kuhr asked. “For most people, this virus is no big deal, but if you think about it, 15% needing to be in the hospital is a one in six, and none of us go out and play Russian roulette, which is one in six in a six-chamber gun,” Dr. Hilty added.

And Mesa County Public Health and Commissioners welcome the community’s feedback on this potential rollback. You can contact MCPH at (970)-683-2300, or by emailing healthinfo@mesacounty.us.

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