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It's the news we hoped we would never hear. As of November 18, there are no ICU beds available at local hospitals.

Mesa County Public Health says all area hospitals are now activating "surge capacity" to make additional rooms and beds ready to use, a plan that was in place from the start of the pandemic. Beds will be available for patients, but it won't be in ICU. MCPH says hospitals are reaching "critical thresholds" for capacity and staffing due to COVID-19.

In the past two weeks, more than 2,000 cases of COVID-19 have been reported in Mesa County which means approximately one in 130 people in the county has the virus based on current data. The positivity rate has ballooned over the past two weeks to over 11%.

For those that have doubted the seriousness of the pandemic or its reality, this should be a wake-up call. If ever the was a time for us to throw out the politics, the rhetoric, the skepticism, and work together to get this COVID-19 virus under control, that time is now.

As Mesa County moves to Level Red and increased restrictions, local health officials are pleading with everyone in the Grand Valley to be proactive in taking the precautions we've been talking about for months: Wear a mask, wash your hands, practice social distancing, stay home when you are sick, and avoid gatherings of people as much as possible.

If you have symptoms or have had close contact with an infected person, you should take advantage of the free testing sites at the Mesa County Fairgrounds and Colorado Mesa University. It's not just about your health, but it's also about the health of those around you - your friends, family, co-workers in addition to their circles of interaction. In some cases, it's about health - and in some cases, it's life or death.