If Missourians want to know who is to blame for the recent spike of coronavirus cases in their state, they can not only look at Governor Mike Parsons and the Republican majority in the legislature, but also the mayor of Branson.

Branson is a tourist town known for a variety of entertaining theater shows, theme parks, museums, and natural attractions that millions of Americans visit every year. As a Missouri resident, I myself have visited the area several times and have never left disappointed.

But Branson is quickly becoming dubiously known as a superspreader for the coronavirus, especially the Delta variant that has exploded in the state in recent months. And Branson Mayor Larry Milton’s reckless pandemic policy is one of the reasons why according to The Daily Beast.

Upon being elected to the office in April, Milton ignorantly vowed to never support vaccines or masks in the city, which he continued to do after a gathering of 27,000 on July 4th.

“First, let me state clearly and for the record: I will not support another government mask mandate, nor will I support a vaccine mandate,” Milton said. “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.”

That’s quite the hypocrisy considering right-wingers like Milton don’t believe women should get to make their own medical decisions. But I digress. Milton continued being ignorant.

“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,” he said. “That’s a decision that should be made by each individual in consultation with their doctor and their family.”

Again, the hypocrisy is raining down in his statement. But it doesn’t make Milton and Republicans “pro-life,” it makes them pro-death because the Delta variant was discovered in Branson wastewater in May just a month after Milton took office, and he did nothing about it.

Hospitals in the area are now at a breaking point and the local ICU is reportedly at 99 percent capacity, a situation they should not be in right now considering there is a vaccine that would help prevent serious infection. Wearing a mask would also help prevent infection as well as the spread of the virus.

But Milton’s refusal to take the virus seriously has resulted in less mask use and fewer vaccinations among the locals and among tourists, which is why coronavirus cases have exploded in the state, making it the top COVID hotspot in the country, an embarrassment that every Missourian should be ashamed of.

Donald Trump’s recklessness and failure to take the virus seriously last year has resulted in 620,000 deaths across the country. Now Milton’s recklessness is killing Missourians and guaranteeing that our nation won’t be seeing the death end any time soon. That’s why we need a strong national vaccination and mask mandate. Republicans have repeatedly demonstrated that they can’t be trusted to safeguard public health.

Featured Image: Branson Convention and Visitors Bureau