The residents of Mesa County have gone the (social) distance and taken our directive to stay at home, use cloth face coverings, socially distance, and avoid large gatherings seriously. We had the advantage of time as we watched COVID-19 spread from China to Italy, Washington, California, and New York, and finally, here at home in Colorado.
Even though the disease spread quickly, the advantage of time allowed us to learn and prepare. And with that extra time, we were also able to witness the seriousness of COVID-19 as hospitals in New York flooded with sick patients and cruise ships sat at port for weeks with quarantined passengers.
It would have been easy for us—Mesa County residents—to feel insulated with a false sense of security because we are so far from New York or Washington State, because we have so many public lands that allow us to distance, because… there are so many excuses.
But we didn’t make any excuses. We have taken COVID-19 seriously.
Because of everyone’s help and ownership in the fight against COVID-19, Mesa County is talking about getting back to business—albeit slowly…. but that doesn’t mean we should resume life as we knew it. We can’t let our guard down…. We have a path forward, but we need to stay the course.
We are lucky to have the gift of wide-open spaces here in Mesa County, especially with a highly contagious disease present in our community, but our neighboring counties also have land and room to spread out and they are being impacted by far more and more serious cases than Mesa County.
It’s hard to drill down on just one reason for so few cases in Mesa County. I can and should give credit to Public Health’s team of dedicated epidemiologists, known internally as our “disease detectives,” who have done an exceptional job contact tracing COVID-19 cases to stop the spread. Our communications team has done an incredible job keeping everyone informed. The collaboration and vigilance between our local hospitals, healthcare workers, and first responders has been outstanding since before the first positive test in our county.
But I also think a lot of that credit belongs to our community—our friends, neighbors and colleagues. We’re doing our part to help stop the spread.
We could have ignored the threat to healthcare workers and continued to socialize in our neighborhoods and cul-de-sacs and organized play dates at local parks. We could have ignored dangers of the virus and continued to invite friends into our homes for dinner. We could have kept going to work “business as usual” in spite of the directive.
But we didn’t.
We have taken the directive seriously, and even came up with creative solutions to interact and stay connected. We watched churches create drive-up services on Easter Sunday, friends and co-workers use technology to connect for work meetings or to have a microbrew “together.” Grocery stores and restaurants began to offer curbside pickup, and more people are finding alternative ways to exercise at home or outdoors.
Because community members have taken personal responsibility, in the fight against COVID-19, Mesa County is talking about getting back to business—albeit slowly. The stay-at-home order issued by Governor Polis has shifted to Safer-at-Home, but that doesn’t mean we should resume life as we knew it. We can’t let our guard down. This pandemic and the fight against it is far from over. But we have to find options to phase-in our workforce and jumpstart our economy again.
First, we need to remember that we are still “Safer at Home” than out and about. We should try to limit our exposure and contact as much as possible. When we do go out, we need to continue to adhere to social distancing guidelines by wearing our masks, staying 6 feet apart, and limiting our gatherings to 10 people or fewer.
There are risks as we transition out of stay-at-home and ease back into our more familiar lives. We expect that there will be more positive cases, but we will continue to work closely with our disease detectives and collaboratively with our first responders and healthcare workers to monitor COVID-19 in Mesa County.
We have a path forward, but we need to stay the course. With your help, we can continue to be successful in the fight against COVID-19.
At Mesa County Public Health, we are committed to slowing the spread of COVID-19 and making sure that tests are available to anyone who is experiencing respiratory symptoms, is older than 65, is a child under 19 years old or is on the front lines as a first responder. Please call our COVID hotline to be prescreened and tested: 970.683.2300.