Fruita City Council discussed Covid, upcoming meeting on diversity

FRUITA, CO – As with the Mesa County Commissioners’ meeting yesterday, this evening’s regular meeting of the Fruita City Council started out with an extensive discussion about Covid. Jeff Kuhr, executive director of Mesa County Public Health, shared updated numbers. The council also discussed next Monday’s meeting with local groups addressing racism in the Valley.

Kuhr said that as of the last two-week period ending on July 5, 30 new positive cases were reported in Mesa County. Twenty-five percent of cases have been due to travel, most from out-of-state travel. Last Saturday alone, 9 new cases were reported, 7 of whom were from the same family. Three individuals are currently hospitalized due to Covid-19,

The department has 4 full-time epidemiologists on staff in addition to more than 30 contact tracing staff. They are able to do up to 600 tests per week, or up to 150 per day. Currently they’re doing up to 70 per day just at the Fairgrounds. Colorado Mesa University and a few other clinics are also testing. All the tests must still go through the health department in order to ensure consistency in reporting the numbers.

Kuhr said that bars and nightclubs are a source of concern, especially with much of the rest of Colorado’s bars currently closed by state order. The county has banned dancing and were considering also banning live music because many bands tend to draw crowds, but have not yet made a decision on that.

Another area of concern are private gatherings. Kuhr said we should know more by the end of this week how well the general public adhered to safety guidelines over the 4th of July weekend.

Council member Matthew Breman asked about the end goals of current health guidelines, since early in the pandemic the goal had been to “flatten the curve”. Kuhr said that the two main goals are to develop a vaccine, which will take a very long time because of the need to manufacture enough for global distribution, and develop drugs that will minimize the severity of the illness or allow patients to avoid hospitalization.

City manager Michael Bennett and council member Kyle Harvey said that there will be a special meeting next Monday, July 13, with special guests from Right & Wrong, Black Citizens and Friends of Mesa County, as well as a CMU football coach, to discuss racism and diversity. To adhere to public health guidelines around public gatherings, the gym at the Community Center will be the venue, with a proposed meeting time of 7:00 pm. Council will finalize the meeting start time this week after Harvey has confirmed with the representatives from the invited groups.

Related to that, Harvey said in his council report that he attended the newly formed task force to address racism in Mesa County, held last Tuesday, June 30. The task force will meet every 2nd and 4th Thursday, with the next meeting scheduled on July 23. That meeting will be held at the Lincoln Park Barn, but the task force hopes to rotate meeting locations around the area. Harvey said he hopes that Fruita will host a meeting.

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