You can be exposed to COVID-19 practically anywhere, but there is one place in Grand Junction that poses the greatest risk to residents.

In the past two weeks, there have been 1,358 positive cases of COVID-19 in Mesa County. According to Mesa County Public Health, less than 1% of those people were exposed by visiting a local business, which makes sense. It sure seems like wearing a mask when we shop is helping to keep us safe when we are out in public.

Additionally, less than 1%  of recent COVID cases in Mesa County were exposed by attending church or a public gathering, while 5% were exposed at a private gathering and another 5% were exposed in a "congregate setting" such as a shelter, jail, or nursing home.

The workplace certainly provides great potential for COVID exposure and nearly 12% of recent cases were exposed at their place of employment. That fact should send a message to everyone to everyone who interacts or works closely with others while on the job. Be cautious, be careful, and be aware of those around you.

But, here it is, the number one place people in Grand Junction are being exposed to COVID-19. More than 32% of COVID cases in the past two weeks were the result of close contact with a family member. That is especially important to note as we head into the final days of the holiday season when family gatherings are ramped up. We have back to back long holiday weekends and the potential for the spread of the virus is huge.

Now, let me be clear. I am not even slightly suggesting families don't gather for the holidays. After all, we have been through in this past year, the one thing we really need is some quality time with our loved ones. However, we should not throw caution to the wind just because it's a holiday. There are things we can all do to minimize the spread of COVID-19 over the next several days.

It may sound like a broken record, but it's worth repeating because too many people still don't get it. If you are sick or have symptoms, stay home. Rather than assuming it's not COVID, assume the opposite. If you are infected and you gather with family, just think of how many people's lives you could dramatically impact by exposing them to COVID. In some cases, it truly could be a matter of life and death.

Beyond that, be sure and wash your hands frequently, and those who are entertaining guests should keep some hand sanitizer out and available for guests to use throughout the day. At least try to keep your social distance and forego the traditional handshakes and hugs. It won't be the end of the world if we don't hug our loved ones. Instead, just be thankful you are able to physically be together to celebrate the holidays.

One more statistic to throw into the discussion. In nearly 40% of Mesa County COVID cases, the source of exposure is unknown. That's why it's important to take extra precautions when you in close proximity with others. You just don't know where they have been and what they may have been exposed to, and as you know, many times it may be the asymptomatic person that spreads the virus.

Again, I don't want to sound like an alarmist. We just need to have some awareness as we gather for the holidays, realize we are still in the middle of a pandemic, and act responsibly. You know how we always encourage people to drink responsibly? Well, by the same token, let's all enjoy the holiday weekend, but let's celebrate responsibly and safely.

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