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OPINION: Wear a face mask if you value others and Branson’s economy

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

To an Ole Seagull, the wearing of face masks to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, particularly in those situations where social distancing is impractical, is obvious. It’s obvious not only to protect the personal health of Branson area residents and guests but also to Branson’s economy.

Gary Groman. (FILE)

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…”

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 wearing a face mask reduces the exposure to others from the mask wearers droplets resulting from things like talking, coughing, or sneezing. 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,”

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.

An Ole Seagull would add to Miller’s statement that the wearing of a mask is also an economic issue as well as a health issue. Recently headlines in the Kansas City Star refer to the spread of COVID-19 in Branson since its reopening, and there were news reports of a Branson restaurant closed because of a COVID-19 outbreak. The Ole Seagull would point out that he and his wife had eaten at the restaurant about ten days prior and had noticed that none of the servers were wearing masks.

Does it take an economic Solomon to realize the impact on Branson’s economy that even the perception that it’s a Petrie dish for COVID-19 could have on tourists electing to come to Branson? What impact could that have, individually on our shows, attractions, and everything else depending on tourists for their economic health? Even worse, what if it came to a head during Branson’s fall and Christmas season.

Many of our shows, attractions, and businesses are taking extraordinary measures to help contain the spread of COVID-19 and its impact on the health of their guests and employees and Branson’s economy. They get it. Do you?

Do you own a business in Branson doing business, face to face with customers, that’s inside, and involves less than six feet between the customer and “you?” Why would you not care enough about the health of your customers, employees, and Branson’s economy to have your employees wear face masks? How much effort does that take?

How can the city of Branson ignore the advice of the CDC and its health department? Why hasn’t it taken the minimal step to require the “wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain?”

If the wearing of face masks is as essential as it appears to be in preventing the spread of COVID-19 and its potential impact on our health and economy, why don’t we heed the advice of the health experts and wear a mask? As importantly, why doesn’t the city of Branson take the appropriate minimal steps to protect not only the health of its citizens and guests but its economy before it’s too late?

(The comments on this page are the opinions of the writer, and not necessarily those of Branson Globe, or its staff. Want to weigh-in? Have something to say? Share it with us in your own Letter to the Editor. See submission guidelines in lower left corner of this page.)

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