Take COVID precautions to keep holidays safe

Amanda Mayle

The holidays are here. So is COVID-19.

A sharp increase in cases occurred in Mesa County in November 2020 — some might argue the first real wave of illness. A year later, illness levels are rising again.

Mesa County has seen a steady increase in COVID-19 illness levels since early August. In recent weeks, the increase has shifted from steady to sharp. 

In the week between Oct. 18 and 25, the positivity rate jumped from 6.21 percent to 7.71 percent. An increase in COVID-19 cases is alarming because it often leads to an increase in COVID-19-caused hospitalizations and deaths. Many Colorado hospitals, including those in Mesa County, are full or nearing capacity due to COVID-19, non-COVID-19 emergencies and routine visits.

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis said if the surge continues, the state will request medical surge teams from the Federal Emergency Management Agency in addition to the National Guard teams already in place. Hospitals could have to halt elective surgeries and resort to crisis standards of care.

In addition to high hospital admission rates, Mesa county has experienced high death rates. Sixteen deaths due to COVID-19 were reported in September and 35 in October.

Vaccines remain the most effective way to control the spread of COVID-19 and help prevent hospitalizations and death. 

Since April 1 — the date Colorado expanded vaccination eligibility to include most adult residents — 85 percent of hospital admissions and 82 percent of deaths due to COVID-19 have occurred in unvaccinated individuals.

This holiday season, Mesa County Public Health recommends the following precautions to slow the rapid spread of COVID-19:

Whenever possible, move public and private gatherings and events outdoors. Increase ventilation in indoor spaces if being outdoors isn’t possible.

Wear a mask in crowded indoor and outdoor spaces.

Get tested if you’re experiencing symptoms consistent with COVID-19.

Stay home if you’re sick or waiting for COVID-19 test results.

Get vaccinated if you’re eligible.

Get your booster shot if you are eligible based on occupational, living or medical circumstances.  

In the workplace, sick employees affect business. Absences due to illness hurt productivity and diminish the morale of healthy employees who have to work extra hard in a colleague’s absence. Some employees worried about losing pay or getting behind could come to work sick, putting others at risk and increasing the effects for the entire workplace.

Taking COVID-19 precautions now will help reduce transmission, hospitalization and death due to COVID-19 — as well as help ensure workplaces don’t take a hit after the holidays.