A lot has changed in the Tri-Lakes area in the last few days in light of the novel coronavirus pandemic, and recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Missouri governor’s office, and local health departments.
On Monday, area school districts, which are on spring break this week, issued a joint statement that the districts will remain closed until April 3. The statement specified that the closure includes all extra- and co-curricular activities, such as athletics. However, as of press time, the Missouri State High School Athletic Association had not ruled out the playing of spring sports.
“Our school district understands that this is a very uncertain time for everyone, but the public can be certain of one thing: districts are focused on protecting the safety and well-being of students, staff and their families,” according to the press release.
“As this unprecedented situation continues to evolve, additional modifications may be necessary. As decisions are made, districts will share information through regular communication channels.”
Utility companies, like Liberty Utilities and White River Valley Electric Cooperative, that serve much of the Tri-Lakes area are taking measures to help the community during the coronavirus pandemic.
Liberty Utilities are providing a grace period by suspending service disconnections for residential and business customers in response to COVID-19.
“We recognize our customers count on the essential services Liberty provides,” said Brent Baker, Liberty Utilities Vice President of Customer Experience Operations. “With the uncertainty surrounding this virus, we want to ensure our customers have access to the services they need to help maintain their health and safety.”
White River Valley Electric Cooperative also released a statement about implementing steps to protect their employees and members:
“We are focused on maintaining a healthy workforce while continuing to provide essential services to our members. While we venture these uncertain times together, our mission will remain to provide members with safe, reliable and affordable power – while enhancing the lives of those we serve.”
Summit Natural Gas of Missouri (Summit) announced the suspension of service disconnections to any customers who are having a hard time paying their bill. This policy will remain in effect until April 30, 2020. At that time the company will evaluate whether to extend the suspension.
“Right now, our top priority is protecting the health and wellbeing of our customers and the communities we serve, which is why we are suspending service disconnections to any customers who are struggling to pay their heating bill,” said Phil Marcum, head of business development for Summit. “The COVID-19 pandemic is causing uncertainty across the country, the last thing our community members should be worried about is whether they can afford to keep their heat on, have gas to cook their food or hot water to take a shower.
“We pride ourselves on being a reliable energy partner for our customers, and this is one small step we can take to live up to that mission.”
Health care facilities are also affected.
Beginning Tuesday, Cox Medical Center Branson set higher level of visitor restrictions.
Visitors to Cox Branson will be directed to the Main Entrance, Outpatient Lobby (east and west), Cancer Center. All emergency departments and urgent cares will remain open.
The Tri-Lakes area is seeing continuous cancellations and postponements to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
These measures are in addition to restrictions announced this past weekend, which include:
–Only one visitor per patient per day.
–No visitor will be allowed to visit patients with suspected COVID-19.
–No one under the age of 18, with the exception of those seeking medical care, will be permitted into CoxHealth facilities.
This age restriction includes all CoxHealth hospitals and clinics.
The city of Branson on Monday issued a press release stating, in part, that officials are working on ways to reduce person-to-person contact.
“Our staff is working to eliminate the need for our citizen’s to have to come into City Hall to pay water bills with electronic measures as well as with our drive up payment box on the Southside of City Hall,” the press release said. “We are also encouraging the use of our new on-line building plan submittal system for those in the construction industry.”
There is a link on bransonmo.gov that will direct you to the Chamber of Commerce website that shows an updated daily list of businesses that are open, closed or on a reduced schedule. Along with links to the CDC for guidance for individuals and businesses.
A later press release, posted on the city website, also included that the city is “encouraging all restaurants and banks to utilize drive-through services only,” and is encouraging “all residents to check on neighbors, especially the elderly.”
Other COVID-19 related changes in the Tri-Lakes area include:
Good Morning, Branson
The Branson Chamber is postponing Good Morning, Branson until further notice.
For additional questions, email firstname.lastname@example.org
Table Rock Lake Chamber of Commerce
Table Rock Lake Chamber of Commerce is canceling all Chamber events for March and April, including the member luncheon scheduled next week. Other canceled events include Chamber University, scheduled for April 16; and the April member luncheon, scheduled for April 30. For those already registered for this month’s luncheon, we will move your reservation to a future luncheon. However, if you want a refund, call 417-739-2564.
Missouri State Parks
Missouri State Parks is postponing special events, programs and is temporarily suspending guided group/school tours through April 30.
Skaggs Foundation is postponing upcoming events in light of the CDC’s latest recommendation for group events.
Women’s wellness event “Beauty & Belles,” as well as the lunch and learn featuring Dr. Suthipong Soontrapa “60 Minutes with Dr. Sam,” are hereby postponed with the hope to announce make-up dates soon.
The Tanger Outlets are modifying their business hours until further notice to be mindful of the health and safety of Tanger’s associates, vendor, customer, the public and the community.
Their new hours of operation, effective immediately, are Monday through Sunday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Missouri Department of Conservation
The MDC has canceled most public events and programs, effective immediately, at its nature centers, shooting ranges and other locations until April 15.
Cancellations include scheduled hunter education classes, nature center programs/events, shooting range programs/events and landowner workshops.
All conservation areas remain open to the public. MDC offices, nature centers and shooting ranges remain open under normal operating hours. MDC scheduled managed hunts, mentored spring turkey hunts and native plant sales at nature centers will also continue as planned.
Contact your local MDC office, nature center or shooting range with questions on specific events/programs.
Table Rock Lake’s Dewey Short Visitor Center
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Little Rock District is closing visitor centers. The Dewey Short Visitor Center by the Table Rock Dam is included in these closings.
According to the release, the Little Rock District campgrounds remain open with Park Rangers on patrol.
Circuit Court of Taney County
Taney County has released the following guidelines.
You are NOT allowed in the Taney County Courthouse or any of its Divisions in Taney County if:
– You have traveled to any foreign country within the last 14 day.
– You reside or have had close contact with someone who has traveled to any foreign country within the last 14 days.
– You have been asked to self-quarantine by any doctor, hospital or health agency.
– You have been diagnosed with, or have had contact with, anyone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19.
– You have an unexplained fever, cough or shortness of breath.
If any of these restrictions apply to you, you are not authorized to enter the premises and may call Amy Strahan, Circuit Clerk of Taney County, Missouri, at 417-546-7230.
Christian Action Ministries
According to a press release from CAM, the agency has made these changes to protect their clients and volunteers.
CAM-Forsyth is suspending operation. People picking up Senior Boxes will still be allowed to do so Friday from 8:30 to 11 a.m. Senior Boxes will also be available at the CAM-Branson location. CAM-Branson location, 610 S. SIxth St. Suite 102, is now a drive-thru only distribution center. Hours will be extended for all eligible Taney County residents Mon. and Wed. through Fri. from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Also, Tues. noon to 3 p.m. They are asking all CAM-Branson visitors to enter through the 6th St. entrance, remain in your vehicle while they deliver your food and then exit onto 5th St.
Taneyhills Community Library
Taneyhills Community Library is closing their library, thrift shop and bookstore
“In an effort to keep library staff, volunteers, and patrons as healthy as possible and assist in fighting the spread of COVID-19 (Coronavirus), the Taneyhills Community Library, thrift shop, and bookstore will be closing at 4 p.m., Tuesday, March 17 until further notice,” a press release stated.
“In order to continue providing service, Taneyhills will respond to email and phone calls during normal operating hours. Wi-Fi is accessible outside the library building. The connection password will be posted on the 4th Street entrance.”
Use outside book drops to return materials to the library. The release says all books will be disinfected when returned. To renew items call, email or use the online renewal feature available on their website.
Stone County Library
According to Stone County Library - MO Facebook page, all Stone County Library branches will be closed Friday, March 20 through April 5.
“We want to ensure that our patrons and our staff are safe as this virus runs its course,” said their Facebook page. “As always our ebooks, audiobooks, and other digital resources will be available 24/7. Stay tuned for more information regarding those!”
“In an effort to keep library staff, volunteers, and patrons as healthy as possible and assist in fighting the spread of COVID-19 (Coronavirus), the Forsyth Library and Forsyth Library Thrift Store will be closing at 12 PM, Saturday, March 21st thru March 28th,” said their Facebook page. “We plan to reopen on March 30th.”
Boys & Girls Club of the Ozarks
The Boys & Girls Club of the Ozarks announced Tuesday that it will shut its doors.
The Boys & Girls Club of the Ozarks operates units in Branson, Forsyth and Reeds Spring. The units provide a place where children can go after school and have a meal and complete homework, all in a safe environment.
“Our number one priority is the safety of our children and staff,” said Stoney Hays, CEO. “We did not make this decision lightly as we know that our members and their families are continuing to navigate life, some without employment, many without basic resources, and we are concerned for the well-being of our kids, their families, and our community. We will continue to investigate and offer resources for our members throughout this ordeal.”
Ozarks Regional YMCA
The Ozarks Regional YMCA announced Tuesday evening that it is going to close its locations, including one in Hollister, will close at least through March 31.
“At the Ozarks Regional YMCA, the safety and well-being of our members, staff, volunteers and the broader community have always been and will always be a top priority,” a press release from Ozarks Regional YMCA said.
“In order to best ensure the health of our entire Y community, we have decided to close all locations of the Ozarks Regional YMCA facilities serving southwest Missouri counties including Greene, Taney, Laclede, Barry, Lawrence, Dallas, and Polk to the public effective at close of business today through at least March 31,” according to the release.
The YMCA will offer online classes at orymca.org/workout-from-home.