Mesa County commissioners are no shrinking violets when it comes to taking positions on controversial issues.
The current trio of commissioners, which will change come January, has no problem calling out policies or pending legislation that they think is not in Mesa County’s best interest.
For example, commissioners have opposed the CORE Act, some rules the Air Quality Control Commission adopted in December 2019 in response to Senate Bill, 19-181, proposed designation of critical habitat for the yellow-billed cuckoo, the “red flag” bill and California-style zero emission vehicle rules.
These are conservative positions. Our commissioners, all Republicans, are often quick to point to the job-killing aspects of regulation, especially as they pertain to oil and gas development.
That’s why the commission’s recent public plea for Mesa County resident to mask up and take the pandemic seriously is noteworthy. While some conservative county commissions have notoriously chafed under restrictions to slow the spread of the virus, our commissioners have embraced them publicly because they understand what’s at stake — a functioning economy.
Commission Chairman Scott McInnis made it pretty clear:
“We urge residents not to ignore our responsibility as individuals and as a community to keep our families, friends and employees healthy and our economy running,” McInnis said. “The increase in cases can be managed if we all do our part, right now. What we need is for our community to show solidarity by doing the right thing, using common sense, washing hands, wearing masks and avoiding the three Cs (close contact, confined spaces and crowds).”
To our commissioners’ credit, they’ve always supported Mesa County Public Health’s lead role in managing the pandemic — not that they’ve had any reason not to. Transmission rates have been low until the last five weeks. But now, as positive cases have piled up — putting the Grand Valley on a path toward strained hospital capacity — commissioners have wisely used their considerable political capital to support the science behind mitigation efforts. Hopefully their conservative credentials will open some eyes around here as to why masks and social distancing are critical for Mesa County to stay open for business.
McInnis’ message is timely. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is recommending against travel for Thanksgiving to prevent the holiday from becoming a nationwide super-spreader event.
Gov. Jared Polis has already said Thanksgiving should be restricted to single households.
Mesa County is supposed to enter a new level of restrictions today — the “red” zone on the state’s status dial. But we’re brushing up against ICU capacity, which is the biggest factor in whether we go to the purple “extreme risk” stage — which would trigger another stay-at-home order.
Ignoring warnings about Thanksgiving could be the anvil that breaks the camel’s back.