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Face masks vital to controlling the spread of COVID-19 in Branson

By Gary J. Groman, a.k.a. The Ole Seagull

Nationally, there is an increased emphasis on the importance of face masks in preventing the spread of the COVID-19 virus. The headline of the June 25, 2020 edition of the Philadelphia Inquirer reads, “Coronavirus cases rise in states with relaxed face mask policies.”

The article reports that in the 16 states currently recommending, but not requiring the wearing of face masks in public, “coronavirus cases have risen by 84% over the last two weeks. In the 11 states that mandate wearing of masks in public...new cases have fallen by 25% over the last two weeks.”

Kara Miller, Community Health Educator, and back up Public Information Officer for the Taney Country Health Department, emphasized the importance of wearing face masks to reduce the spread of COVID-19. When asked if wearing a mask was as crucial as social distancing, Miller said, “It’s more important because COVID-19 spreads through droplets.” She said that they have found that the wearing of a face mask reduces the exposure to others from the mask wearers droplets resulting from things like talking, coughing, or sneezing, and that’s very helpful in reducing the spread of COVID-19.

“We are asking the community to wear masks during this time. We have found that mask-wearing does help reduce the spread of COVID-19. It’s the ‘best practice’ that we can do as a community right now to help reduce the spread of the disease,” she added.

Miller emphasizes that the wearing of a mask is a public health issue. It’s life or death to some people. “We need to protect the people that are most vulnerable to this disease, and we can do that by wearing a mask,” she said.

Masks are particularly crucial under those conditions where social distancing is impracticable. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) says that the COVID-19 virus can spread between people interacting near each other through “... speaking, coughing, or sneezing—even if those people are not exhibiting symptoms.” In light of that, the CDC recommends “wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain…”

A recent case illustrates the impact of wearing face masks in controlling the potential spread of COVID-19. On May 22 and 23, the Springfield-Greene County Health Department issued press releases about a mass exposure to COVID-19 in a local hair salon. It said that two hairstylists working in the salon tested positive for the COVID-19 virus resulting in the exposure of 140 clients to the virus. At the time of the exposure, both the stylists and their clients were wearing masks.

A report from the Springfield-Greene County Health Department on June 8 said that the incubation period had passed for those exposed to the virus at the salon. None of the clients serviced by the two stylists had contracted COVID-19. Director of Health Clay Goddard said, “This is exciting news about the value of masking to prevent COVID-19.” He also said that the salon also had policies that likely helped prevent the spread of the disease. These include the distancing of salon chairs, staggering appointments, and other measures.

Branson’s oldest and most popular attraction, Silver Dollar City, along with other measures, requires the wearing of masks by guests and associates as part of its efforts to protect its guests and team members from the COVID-19 virus. “We believe during these unprecedented times, wearing a mask or face covering shows mutual respect and care for fellow guests and our team members who serve our guests,” said Lisa Rau, the Director PR/Publicity, Silver Dollar City Attractions/Herschend Family Entertainment.

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