Health program recognizes star efforts

Jeff Kuhr

Mesa County continues to experience success in slowing the spread of COVID-19. Thanks to the commitment of the business community and residents, we’ve been able to safely reopen businesses and begin our economic recovery.

We recognize the sacrifices have been many and want to acknowledge the work it took for us to get this far. To highlight the great work our local businesses have done to ensure employee and customer safety, we’re pleased to introduce the Variance Protection Program.

A collaborative effort between Mesa County Public Health and the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce, the  five-star rating system recognizes businesses implementing public health recommendations related to COVID-19.

The program grew out of a realization some residents could be wary of entering public spaces given the ongoing threat of COVID-19. Many of these consumers could have underlying health conditions or other risk factors. They want to know what precautions facilities take to ensure their safety.

Many businesses do an excellent job of protecting their customers, and we want to highlight their work. We also want to provide resources for residents to know the places implementing these safety practices as intended and taking precautions to protect the community.

Since the program launched, 26 businesses have received five-star ratings. The list grows rapidly. Businesses interested in joining the program begin by submitting a business safety plan to Mesa County Public Health. Information about the process is available online at https://health.mesacounty.us. A Mesa County Public Health representative visits establishments and audits their procedures as they relate to COVID-19. The representative scores the establishment on a series of items required in the public health order and outlined in the reopening plan.

To achieve a five-star rating, establishments must demonstrate they’ve implemented policies and procedures in five areas: mask use, social distancing marking, facility capacity, cleaning protocols and active monitoring of symptoms

Not only does the rating program provide information for consumers, the program also offers a great marketing tool. Businesses receive window cling stickers issued by the Grand Junction chamber to promote their operations as recipients of five-star ratings. In addition, advertising will feature the establishments that have earned the designation.

A list of businesses that have earned five-star ratings is available at https://health.mesacounty.us. The list will be updated and serve as an expanding resource for those working to ensure safety at their establishments.

The COVID-19 pandemic has presented many challenges. Adjusting business procedures to adapt and respond to this new environment is no easy feat. Mesa County Public Health commends the efforts of the business community and looks forward to a continued partnership in reopening our community and economy.