Larry Milton official headshot.jpg

Branson Mayor Larry Milton addressed COVID-19 in a statement Tuesday, July 13.

Branson Mayor Larry Milton released a statement on Tuesday, July 13, concerning the rise of COVID-19 in the city and the region.

The mayor’s statement centered around a theme of citizen freedom to make their decisions regarding vaccines, masking, and their medical choices.

Milton stated his position that he is not against masking, and that if residents want to wear a mask he completely supports their decision to wear them. He also said that if local business owners want to require masks inside their businesses, he is also entirely behind the business owner’s decision.

Milton also stated that while it is the role of the mayor and the city’s Board of Alderman to make sure the community is aware of where they can receive a COVID-19 vaccine, it’s not his place to promote the vaccine.  

Here is Milton’s statement:

Hello friends,

I wanted to take a few minutes today to address the ongoing COVID-19 situation facing our area and my thoughts about how our community can respond to the ever-changing landscape of the situation. 

First, let me state clearly and for the record: I will not support another government mask mandate, nor will I support a vaccine mandate. I didn’t talk about freedom and liberty during my campaign for Mayor simply as a way to get elected. I championed those values then, as I do now, because I believe that each individual should have the right to decide for themselves how to best handle their own medical decisions. 

With that being said, I want to reiterate a few statements I’ve made since the beginning of all this:

If you choose to wear a mask, I support your decision.

If you own a business and choose to require masks in your business, I support your decision.

And the SAME goes for those individuals or businesses that choose not to wear or require masks for themselves and their businesses. 

Freedom means the freedom to decide to wear a mask OR not to wear one. 

No businesses or individuals should be persecuted, blacklisted or attacked because they disagree with YOUR individual viewpoint on the mask issue. The wonderful thing about our country and our city is that we can disagree while still coexisting with each other. 

Ultimately, our consumers will decide where they want to dine, shop and stay based on their own personal views on the issue. If they feel more comfortable patronizing a restaurant, retail store, theater, attraction or any business that requires masks, they should be able to make that choice for themselves. Again, the same applies for visitors that feel comfortable patronizing businesses without mask requirements. Our community can and should decide for themselves how to handle their own medical decisions, and our visitors will do the same. 

Now, to address the issue of vaccines.

I believe your Mayor and Board of Alderman should make sure our local community is informed of the availability of vaccines for those who would like to get vaccinated. The Branson area has 15 locations where vaccine shots are readily available and free of charge. If you want to get the vaccine, you can. 

 

I DO NOT believe it’s my place, or the place of any politician, to endorse, promote or compel any person to get any vaccine. That’s a decision that should be made by each individual in consultation with their doctor and their family. If you have questions about the vaccine and if it’s right for you, you should ask your doctor. 

Finally, I do have one request I will make of you, the people. Be good to one another. Be good to those who visit our town. Don’t let temporary disagreements drive us apart forever. Whether you are masked or not, vaccinated or not, make smart decisions. Wash your hands regularly, maintain social distancing when possible, if you are sick STAY HOME and be aware of those around you who may think differently than you do about the issue. Be courteous, be thoughtful, be Branson. 

Your Mayor, 

Larry D. Milton

 

The mayor’s statement comes on the heels of national attention on Branson because of high rates of COVID-19 infections tied to the Delta variant of the disease.  National publications like Bloomberg highlighted the rise of cases in the region; CBS late night show host Stephen Colbert used the rise in cases to mock Branson visitors.

The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services reported Wednesday, July 14, that Taney County has had 190 confirmed cases of the disease in the last seven days, a daily average of 27 cases. There are also 121 cases considered probable COVID-19 cases not yet confirmed via PCR test.

The statement from the mayor drew hundreds of comments on the Facebook page of Branson Tri-Lakes News, with the majority against the mayor’s position.  However, the mayor did have his supporters:

“What a great Mayor!” Toni Gallardo wrote. “Branson is lucky to have you! Freedom rings true in your words and deeds!”

“Very well said,” Kathy Niemeyer Bottrell said. “I know you are getting grief over your stance, but these 2 Kimberling city residents are sending you lots of vibes of support and encouragement.”

“People should most definitely get to choose for themselves whether or not they want to take a vaccine that is experimental at best and not FDA approved,” Amber Defina wrote. “He is standing up for the rights of freedom for all Americans. Use your own mind on getting vaccinated or not. I love Larry Milton and I am vaccinated and I stand for people’s right to choose if they want it or not.”

The Mayor’s detractors tended to be very pointed in their criticism of his views, with many expressing their opposition to Milton’s comments regarding people’s rights to decide for themselves.

“Unbelievable,” Monique Jones said. “I hope the medical community reads this too. He has ZERO concern for the health and well-being as long as you all have your ‘freedom.’ Hope they don’t run out of ventilators during the next wave of the pandemic. Your ignorance will be your downfall.”

“I feel he is wrong on a couple of things,” Steve Johnson wrote. “First, the evidence is clear that the vaccine is the only way out of this so it IS the responsibility of politicians to encourage people to be vaccinated. It’s called leadership. Secondly, it is a personal decision but it’s also a matter of social responsibility. Getting the shot prevents you from infecting and perhaps causing the death of a friend, family member, or stranger. Remember about being our brother’s keeper?”

“Wow...... ridiculous,” Bill Turney said. “Well.....elections have consequences and as long as Branson’s leadership has this attitude, Branson will continue to receive nationwide negative press, more businesses will suffer worker shortages due to illness and more residents will contract the virus and be hospitalized.  I wonder if we’ll get our own variant named after us?”

Visit the Branson Tri-Lakes News page on Facebook to view all the comments surrounding the mayor’s statement.

 

(12) comments

Corkey

Very good Sir! Your statement is exactly one reason why I and a number of my Brothers and Sisters in LE have chosen to retire here. Your statement is on point and is the epitome of Freedom and personal responsibility.

Btkid

Thank you Mr Mayor. Your consistency in upholdIng our freedom is the very reason we elected you. Well done, Mr Mayor! Well done!

Desuhu

Sounds to me like a mayor with some common sense. No one should be forced to wear a mask or get the vaccine if they choose not to. I don't know why the pro maskers and pro vaccine people want to force their choices on the rest of us. I don't care if they wear the mask or get the vaccine, just don't try to tell me what to do. If a business requires you to wear a mask to shop there, I will go elsewhere. Don't you think it's amazing that Walmart, Sams, and other big box stores have remained open throughout this pandemic and any Walmart I've been in has never pushed the mask agenda on anyone.

BLEC

This is a politician that understands who we are as citizens of this great Republic. Remember there never was a point where we ran out of ventilators and we are better shape this time around. There is no evidence that someone who gets vaccinated cannot become infected and infect others, i.e. UK just announced anyone traveling to their country must still be quarantined even if they have been vaccinated. Mayor Milton is not discouraging anyone to not get the vaccine he is just leaving that responsibility to the citizen. I feel most negative comments are the result of media talking points and not research. Thank You Larry for having the backbone to stand up for what you believe.

So Sick Of This Nonsense

I would love to know why all you freedom lovers aren't also complaining about everyone being required to wear pants or shorts and women having to wear tops? Now I am going to make some popcorn and enjoy the responses!

JR

Really? That all you got? Maybe you should move to Kansas City.

So Sick Of This Nonsense

Oh "JR" were you bored yesterday? And that was the best answer to my post? I hope my question didn't make your brain hurt since you didn't try to answer it. Popcorn is popping.

Branson4fun

We don't hear as many statistics of how many have been injured or died from taking the vaccination! Just statistics on how many died from other causes but were credited to the COVID-19 virus.

Carnegie

So sad that so many in Branson believe politicians before health professionals. The point is not masks, it is about vaccinations. Those that fail to vaccinate will continue to die and/or damage their health, their friends health and communities health. The non-vaccinated continue to ignore the full hospitals of non-vaccinated at Cox and Mercy. John Wayne, the hero of many non-vaccinated said it best, "Life is tough, but it's tougher when you're stupid."

JR

More vaccinated people are catching this "new" virus than anyone else. My uncle got the jab and 2 months later has to go into open heart surgery never having ANY heart issues before. Take your shot and stay home. People like you pushing your way of life on others are headed for a big problem.

Patriot Gaines

Mayor Milton should be applauded for his courage and support of individual liberties. Thank you for your outstanding leadership!

JR

We here in the Branson area aren't buying into the fear of this nonsense. If you want to stay home, stay home. Mayor Milton was voted primarily for his stance on this issue and he's an honorable man to stand by his promises not to tell us how to live our lives. In fact, it's his job to see the government doesn't infringe our rights.

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