Starting Friday, April 16 Mesa County is 'Free to Choose.' But what does that actually mean?

On March 17, the Mesa County Board of Commissioners passed a resolution "supporting the rights of businesses to be free to choose how to protect themselves from COVID-19." The resolution was intended to be implemented after April 16 and no later than May 1, 2021. This week, the commissioners voted to put the resolution into play on April 16.

According to Mesa County Public Health, the resolution means businesses in the county are no longer mandated to follow the state's COVID-19 executive orders and are not subject to the governor's face-covering executive order.

5 Points To the Resolution

  • Businesses have the freedom to decide whether or not they want to limit capacity, require face masks, or enforce social distancing. If a business chooses to have a face mask policy, patrons are expected to honor it.
  • Individuals can choose whether or not they want to wear a face mask and make their own determination if they want to patronize businesses that may or may not be implementing COVID safety measures.
  • Mesa County Public Health will continue to encourage residents to wear facial coverings and social distance when possible, but individuals will decide what level of risk they are willing to take.
  • MCPH will still recognize 5-star facilities which continue the practices that have earned them the designation.
  • Event organizers are encouraged to implement social distancing and safety measures, and events with more than 2500 attendees will have to go through a plan review process with MCPH.
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Mesa County By the Numbers

When making a decision on how you want to proceed and determining what course of action is best for you and your family, you may consider the following Mesa County statistics.

About 38% of Mesa County residents have received at least one vaccine dose, and nearly 28% are fully vaccinated. A  total of 59% of residents age 70 and older are fully vaccinated, and 46% of individuals age 60-69 are fully vaccinated.

MCPH says since April 2, only 30% of vaccinations have been for first dose appointments. At this pace, they say it would take nearly a year to vaccinate all eligible residents in the county.

The Bottom Line

While there is likely a large contingent of residents that will be quick to ditch the mask as Mesa County loosens restrictions, the virus is still present. A total of 17 new cases of COVID-19 were confirmed on Monday, bringing the two-week case count to 171. Vaccination numbers are very slowly climbing and seem unlikely to even reach 50%.

No doubt, the great divide will continue to manifest between those who mask up and those who don't, as well as those who vaccinate and those who choose not to. Both sides feel strongly about their position and that is not going to change. But, both sides have to remember that 'Freedom to Choose' does not mean freedom to be mean, ugly, or disrespectful toward those that have a difference of opinion. In today's world, somehow we have come to a point where people think it's okay, but, it still isn't.

'Freedom to Choose' also means businesses that want to enforce the wearing of masks are free to do that. Consequently, people who patronize those businesses will be expected to follow their guidelines, whether they agree with them or not.

We'll take a good look at Mesa County's COVID numbers on April 16 - and in a month we'll look again and see where we are at. We could be in a really good place--or we may find ourselves falling back into a dark hole. Let's hope for the best.

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