Branson considered “hot spot” tourist destination, health officials concerned as new COVID-19 variants emerge

Updated: Jun. 13, 2021 at 9:43 PM CDT
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BRANSON, Mo. (KY3) - As more visitors flock to the city and new COVID-19 virus variants are being discovered, Branson is now considered a “hot spot” tourist destination.

Branson and Taney County were recently given such a designation based on the CDC’s Community Profile report “Area of Concern” map, meaning that these communities with might experience limitations on healthcare resources with a high sustained case burden.

Kathryn Metzger with the Taney County Health Department said health officials did expect the uptick as visitors return to Branson ahead of summer.

Metzger said many times visitors feel great, but may be asymptomatic and not realize it.

“We’re really concerned about those front line workers that are coming into contact with them, these people from outside of our community that may be asymptomatic bringing this with them or have very mild symptoms,” Kathryn Metzger said.

CoxHealth Chief Hospital Officer Karen Kramer said there is also worry as new COVID-19 variants make their way to the region.

”We know that there’s variants in our region and know the variants are more transmissible, so that is also another major concern,” Karen Kramer said.

But not everyone feels that way. One tourist said she’s not concerned coming to what’s now considered a hot spot.

”I feel I’m immune. If not, I’ll get it again. I’ll be fine, I’ll live through it,” Victoria Renaud said.

Branson visitor Victoria Ranaud said she also has no desire to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

”Even after this trial period is over, and this clinical trial is over, I will probably not get it,” Renaud said.

”For those individuals that are unable or not ready or don’t want to get the vaccine, we still highly recommend those protective measures that were in place earlier,” Metzger said.

Those include protective measures like social distancing and good hand hygiene.

”And taking those precautions to protect themselves in ways they feel they need to,” Metzger said.

Metzger said it’s also alarming to see younger patients in the hospital from COVID-19. She encourages anyone interested to sign up for the vaccine.

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