Branson, Missouri Mask Debate Explodes Into Insane Theorists

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On Thursday, July 16th, 2020, Our Society Today News attended the Branson City Hall special meeting regarding a mandatory mask ordinance. Founder and author of Our Society Today News, Joshua Pope (Josh), spoke to the crowd. For the rest of this article, it will be written in the first person since it is I, Josh, that is writing this and experienced it. I will try to run down what happened when anti-maskers and pro-maskers debated.

Broadcast to the City Of Branson YouTube Channel. My speech can be found at 2 hours, 59 minutes, and 15 seconds.

Cases of Covid-19 have been on the rise rapidly in the United States as states reopen and protests had spread the virus. You can read about our predictions here.

The video was streamed live to the Branson City Hall YouTube channel. Many local news stations were there as well. The special meeting began at 2 pm. It was anticipated that it was going to be a relatively straight forward event, but everyone was sadly wrong.

The Attacks Began Before It Started

I was confronted multiple times during the meeting. This first one was before i even stepped foot in the building. Below will the the exchange between me and the first individual. Which was a woman i refuse to name.

Our exchange after she saw my Black Lives Matter mask went like this.

“White lives matter” – Her

“Indeed they do” – Me

“You know that’s a Marxist movement right?” – Her

“Yes i’m a socialist” – Me (Democratic Socialist actually)

“How dare you, you know this is America right? You need to find a different country. There is no place for you here. I need to talk to you.” – Her

“Okay talk to me then i’m always willing to talk.” – Me

“Why are you a socialist?” – Her

“I believe the people and government should work together to ensure everyone has equal rights and access to all basic human needs like education and healthcare for free.” – Me

“Workers like me too?” – Her

“Exactly. Just like you.” – Me

“Well, I worked hard for my education, and healthcare people shouldn’t get it for free. Goodbye,” – She said as she huffed and stomped off.

After Being Seated

When I first sat down I was joined by a friendly elderly woman. We were friendly but she noticed my Black Lives Matter mask as well and quickly changed tones.

She wasn’t necessarily rude but seemed very confused. We debated for a long while about Black Lives Matter and racial injustice. I feel it was necessary to point out she was wearing a Trump 2020 mask.

I cannot remember word for word what she said and vice versa. However, I do recall her saying she believed there were no racial issues in America that African Americans are only racist towards whites. I strongly objected.

We got onto the topic of socialism. She believed it to be communism. She disagreed with free healthcare for all claiming insurance covers everything. I gave her many examples of my health issues that medicare will not cover for me.

She then proceeds to tell me to get a job then, to which I replied that I have one and at one time worked 55 hours a week and that it still was not enough to afford my medication. We then agreed just to disagree.

Anti-Maskers Total Disregard For Experts

For the first hour and a half, the author of the ordinance was explaining how it worked and going over it. This met extreme questioning and criticism from Larry Milton, Alderman from Ward II.

In Larry Milton’s defense, the ordinance was written quite poorly and easy to misinterpret.

Shortly after, several high ranking officials and doctors from the regional hospital system known as Cox came up in support of the mandate. However, unknown to everyone, the vast majority of the crowd was anti-maskers. Ironic considering a mask was required to enter and stay in the building.

Anti-maskers began to shout over the Cox hospital expert calling him a liar, booing, saying he was wrong, etc.

Photo of the mayor and aldermen taken during the mask debate in Branson Missouri.
A photo of Mayor Akers and the Aldermen. (SBJ PHOTO BY CHRISTINE TEMPLE)

The Endless Queue To Speak

Afterward, public speaking was open and the Mayor asked all who would like to speak to line up. The line filled very quickly and was extremely long.

Of course, I, and the website I have here, is very pro-mask, as you will read in the speech I post as well as what I read in the YouTube video of the meeting.

I was roughly number ten in line. In my mind, this surely was going to be one-sided in support of masking. I was incredibly wrong.

The first speaker came up bashing masks, calling it false science, etc.

I’m not even going to begin to try and recount all of the things I heard today but I will do my best. Regardless, the video will be in this article open for all of you to see for yourselves.

Before I knew it one went by and another and another…

The woman who stopped me outside and told me I didn’t belong here stopped up to me in line. She was ahead of me. She taunted me asking if I felt alone yet with a big grin. I shrugged it off. It’s hard smarter than the crowd I thought.

Soon I was up next after ten or eleven people were ahead of me. Yet I was the first person in line to speak in support of masking.

When It Became My Turn

The crowd began to boo me, shout over me as I spoke, and so forth. The mayor himself, Edd Akers, had to stand up for me as I spoke and tell them to stop.

I will copy the speech down below. The lecture isn’t exactly like what I said but along the same lines. I got a bit frustrated and went off course.

After I was done I had to take a moment to myself.

The Attacks Persisted

When I was in the hallway an officer pulled me aside and commended me for my bravery and how he thought it took a lot to get up against the crowd. That he supported what I fight for.

I had several others pull me aside and say the same including more police officers, retired veterans, and young people alike.

Then I was once again confronted by a lady. She, like the others, saw my mask. She claimed Black Lives Matter was a demonic group that sacrificed people.

Against all odds i was able to hold back my laughter and replied simply, “Sorry lady. I don’t believe in conspiracy theories.”

And just like the other lady she got angry, huffed, and stormed off.

7 Hours Of Crazy Anti-Maskers

The meeting started at 2pm and ended around 10:30pm or so. There was over 7 hours of public statements.

Only a handful of people, including me, supported masks. The rest were wild conspiracy theorists, religious zealots, science deniers, and in the worst case some totally disregarded peoples lives.

There are way too many crazy things to list. Instead, watch this video from Heath Goetsch

A compilation of insanity by Heath Goetsch.

Some things included rants about communist invasions, references to Nazi Germany, the anti-christ, Trump is our only hope, that Covid-19 won’t affect Christians, that their freedoms shouldn’t be taken for someone else’s life.

Those are just some of the insane remarks i endured during this time.

It was then quite a long time before anyone pro-mask came up again as the crowd emptied.

Nate Horsman, a local activist, pro-mask supporter, and friend was one of the last speakers. He drilled fact after fact into them. Nate debunked some of their ridiculous claims, as I did too. He ended his statement by quoting Captain America, “This is the fight of our lives and we are going to win. Whatever it takes.”

Nate speaking during the mask debate. (My youtube channel.)

Branson Aldermen Delay

In the end, however, it could have all been in vain. Larry Milton was intended on shooting the bill down. He made a motion to vote in which it was seconded. However, Alderman Skains and Simmons also had a motion to postpone.

There were confusion and miscommunication among both the city and people after a long exhausting day.

Most of the Aldermen and those in support of the mandate publicly agreed that the ordinance was written poorly and should be amended to be more achievable.

Jeff Seay pointed out that in its current form he couldn’t vote for it, and Skains agreed.

However, Mayor Akers, Alderman Simmons, Alderman Whiteis, Alderman Skains, and Alderman Seay wanted to reschedule the vote after a long tiring day. They opposed the bill in the current form but also wanted to postpone to reconsider and amend it. With amendments it’s likely it will get enough support to pass.

After a brief moment of the clerk finding the correct procedure and some clearing up it was decided by the board to postpone the vote for amendments and a refreshing new day.

As it stands now the vote and amending will occur July 28th.

My Speech

Hello, good afternoon aldermen, and mayor. My name is Joshua Pope. I would like to abstain from giving my address to the public; however, you have it from the last time I spoke here. I came here in support of enacting the mandatory mask mandate. want to share my story, my research, my time, my effort, and my concerns that I, myself, go through, and many others do as well. 

I live with my grandparents. My grandpa will be 73 this fall, and my grandmother will be 77. My grandmother has many respiratory issues and is often on oxygen. We all know in my family that Covid-19 would be a guaranteed death sentence for her. My sister has severe asthma and has been hospitalized many times before over it. I am diabetic, I have many health issues as well that would put me in grave danger, yet I work because I have to during this pandemic. I’m a server at a restaurant in Ozark. I’m exposed to people every time I work. My worry is not about myself but my grandparents and what would happen if I caught it and brought it home.

I lost my first real job because of this pandemic. My job was at Ribcrib. had finally made friends there, and they were like family to me. I supported a shutdown, and still do. Ribcrib closed on March 20th just two days after the guidelines the aldermen passed. I routed for the passing of such guidelines. Even after I lost my job, my management position, my friends, and my family at Ribcrib, I never once regretted the decision. I never once felt that it was a mistake. Because I knew what was at stake, my family, my friends, the lives of people id never know. I know it was the right decision because I know what pandemics can do. 

The Historical Impact Of Pandemics

As you recall being a student of history, I’ve seen what mother nature is capable of. I’ve read about civilizations being brought to their knees by plagues, much of the world’s population being killed, entire parts of the world devastated for years to come. I’ve read about that catastrophic damages caused when society didn’t have the means or knowledge to fight such pandemics, or when society refused to acknowledge science and the information they had with lethal consequences. 

The Native American people had no immunity to measles and smallpox, just as we have no resistance to COVID-19. Millions died, the Aztec empire collapsed, and in turn, what was left was quickly conquered by the Europeans. The people of the dark ages in Europe had no knowledge or science realizing that rats and fleas were spreading the black death. They thought that the end of times was upon them when 25 million people equal to 1/3rd of Europe’s population perished. It was several hundred years before they recovered back to the pre-plague population. 

During the Spanish flu, only 100 years before this, would have been in the memory of some of our great grandparents, grandparents, or for the elderly generation, their parents, minds. Cities in America that took precautions and listened to science had significant progress in halting cases and deaths. St. Louis was one of those cities cutting transmission up to 50% compared to cities that didn’t. Philadelphia, for example, had double the deaths per 100,000 people at 748 compared to St. Louis, which had 358 per 100,000 people. Keep in mind St. Louis enacted aggressive social distancing and mandates while Philadelphia ignored the science and calls for such measures.

San Francisco, in 1918, to combat the Spanish Flu enacted a mandatory mask law. Initially, it saw massive success, and shortly it was lifted. Cases spiked once again, and there was a sizeable anti-mask movement, which caused deaths to spike considerably. We have the advantage today that they did not have. Covid-19 has a lot of similarities with the flu we have grown so accustomed to. We have history to look back to and know the consequences of inaction.

The Situation We Face Here

According to the World Health Organization, 20% of all cases lead to hospitalization. Taney County has a population of nearly 56,000 people. In March, the New York governor estimated 40-80% of its citizens would get Covid-19. California’s governor estimated 56% of its people would contract it. The Imperial College of London estimated 81% of the United States would contract it with no protective measures in place. 

Let’s be generous and say out of those estimations that only 40% of Taney county residents get it. By no means is that a small or insignificant number. That would result in 22,400 cases of Covid-19, which would translate to roughly 4,480 hospitalizations. What happens if we follow the rate of death we have seen already at approximately 5% fatality? That would be 1,120 Taney County residents in the morgue. 

Now that is complete without considering the unique situation Branson finds itself in. We welcome people from all over the country and world to our small town. People pack into confined spaces to watch shows and other activities. 40% was a conservative estimate. Consider that people will be traveling from who knows where and spreading it throughout our community. I believe without actions or preventative measures that we could easily see a 60-80% population infection here. And even if the people of Taney county and Branson is not enough to make you act, consider all of the nationwide consequences our town could have spreading Covid-19 around the country.

If you thought tourism was hurting because of the virus, ride the ducks a few years prior, the Black Lives Matter Protests, The KKK in our town, imagine if the next news line is “Branson infects thousands of tourists before returning home.” Ask Cox hospital, ask Taney County Health Department, ask the local funeral homes if they believe they can take the conservative estimate of patients and dead. I bet they will tell you no. This is assuming all of those hospitalized will be our residents alone. What about tourists that come to town? If they get sick to the point of hospitalization, they would be forced to go to our local hospitals. Do you think that without any attempts to halt the spread that we can handle not only our people but tourist hospitalizations as well?

We also need to prepare for the fact that against all logic, our school systems and many others are deciding to open up on-campus classes. The potential for kids, while yes, they don’t get as sick as adults, to spread it to those vulnerable and widely is a serious threat. Even then, children do die. Young people do die, as well.

It is essential to point out that a more significant number of victims than those hospitalized have permanent organ damage. This virus is a vascular one. It causes heart failures, strokes, kidney failures, in young patients, and more. The tissue in the lungs, heart, kidneys, and other organs have been collected and studied. Those studies have found that many victims will have irreversible organ damage the rest of their lives, likely shorting their life span by decades. The mortality rate, permanent damage, and hospitalization rates of victims drastically increase with age. Branson has a large senior population, and we host many elderly visitors each year. We have a unique breeding ground for Covid-19 to run rampant with much more harmful effects than other places.

Debunking Anti-Maskers

I feel it is important to touch on the spread of misinformation and anti-maskers rhetoric here. Much of it is spread on social media by comparing this to the flu, claiming masks don’t help, that it’s their body their choice, and if others wear a mask, why should they.

The way masks work, which is why boxes of surgical masks claim they don’t protect against Covid-19, is because it does not protect you against Covid-19. It protects others from you. If someone had Covid-19 without a mask on and coughed near you or exhaled, their droplets, which projects, from their nose and mouth, carry the virus. If you were to wear a mask, it would protect you very slightly, but you’d still be at high risk. However, masks do protect others from you. For example, if you were a carrier of Covid-19 and wore a mask, the mask catches and blocks infectious droplets, significantly limiting the distance or amount projected.

Here’s an example. Pretend its a cold winter day. You can see your breath, and it travels quite far correct? That is the moisture droplets visible due to the cold. Now if you had a mask on the distance it would travel would be nearly non-existent. Another analogy I like to use is the Pee Analogy.

Pretend everyone is running around naked. Someone decides to pee on you. You get wet.

Now pretend you are wearing pants. Someone pees on you, and you don’t get as wet but still wet nonetheless.

Now pretend you both wear pants, and someone decides to pee on you. They only wet themselves because the pants trap the pee.

The argument that it’s their body and their choice is invalid. Sure it’s their body, but their decision not to wear a mask is not putting themselves in danger. It is putting others in danger. Wearing a mask protects me, my grandmother, my family, my friends, my neighbors, just as me wearing one does the same for you and everyone you love.

It’s essential to know how significant it is for everyone to wear a mask. The transmission between two masked individuals, according to some studies, is 1.5%. The University of California San Francisco found, “In one simulation, researchers predicted that 80 percent of the population wearing masks would do more to reduce COVID-19 spread than a strict lockdown.” Enacting this mandate could have the effects necessary to keep Branson open, protect our people, and citizens following the data from the University of California.

Yes, Covid-19 has many similarities to the flu. The flu has killed since October 2019 to April 2020, 24-62,000 people. Its true we don’t take as drastic measures for other outbreaks as we have Covid-19. But the fact of the matter is, we have resistances to the flu, we have a yearly vaccine, the flu, while deadly, does not come with the lasting damages Covid-19 does. We have nothing to combat this: no immunity, no resistance, no vaccine, no cure. We are at this virus’s mercy and must act in every way possible to slow it down.

States That Have Mandatory Masks

California, Oregon, Washington, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Hawaii, Kansas, Louisiana, Illinois, Michigan, Kentucky, West Virginia, Virginia, North Carolina, Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and Maine.

These states have chosen to lead and protect their people following the studies and science of the effectiveness of masks. Many other cities, including ones in Missouri, St Louis, Kansas City, Springfield, have all passed this mandate. If we deny this mandate we are claiming to know better or not care enough to follow suit.

Conclusion

It is easy to look at each death, each case, each statistic, as just that, a statistic, but they aren’t just a statistic. Every case is someone dealing with a potentially life-threatening battle and suffering. Each case is someone dealing with possibly a lifetime of complications. Each death is a person with a mom, dad, sister, brother, son, daughter, wife, husband, grandma, or grandpa. They may be a number to you, but they were the world to someone else. They are people.


I ask you not just to trust my word, my countless hours of study and research, my constant watching of information. I want you to research yourself with an attempted unbias. I want you to read the countless sources of experts agreeing with me. I want you to ask doctors, health experts, hospital staff, those who have contracted Covid-19, and lived to tell the tale.

I support this mask mandate. We have an incredible advantage that our ancestors did not. We have the lessons of history, and access to knowledge, none of them dreamed possible. We have the opportunity to be an example to other communities and protect our people and tourists visiting us. It should be our duty to accept the inconvenience and discomfort of wearing a mask to protect others. To be selfless and show that we all suffer through this together, so that we do everything possible that we each may live. I know I would want you to do this for my grandmother, and that is why I wear my mask for yours.

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Neckerei

I am a history student who loves to be involved in today's events and to look back on history and see the connections between them. My goal is to write about things to give perspective, solutions, and awareness to issues facing our society today.

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