Non-residents, tourists prohibited from entering Shannon County, Mo. unless for essential reasons

Published: Apr. 9, 2020 at 9:28 PM CDT
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Shannon County wants to keep non-residents from coming into the county because of the coronavirus.

The county issued an order earlier this week, which health officials say is a proactive step to keep the county virus-free.

Normally, this time of year, Eminence starts to come alive.

Businesses are gearing up for the busy, summer tourist season.

"Shannon County is the epitome of social distancing," lifelong Shannon County resident Jenni Chilton-Dodson told KY3.

Because of the coronavirus pandemic, tourists are being asked to stay away.

"We really want to keep tourism to a minimum right now," Shannon County Health Center Administrator Kandra Counts said.

This week has been hard for canoe rental owner Shane Van Steenis.

The county order came out Monday, and Thursday the National Park Service told him he could no longer operate his canoe rental business.

"I'd rather be shutdown in April, than I would in June or July. Memorial Day through Labor Day is our peak of the season. It's kind of our livelihood," Van Steenis added.

As of Thursday, there were zero positive cases of COVID-19 in Shannon County - a number everyone wants to keep.

"People need to realize that we need the gift of time right now more than anything, Chilton-Dodson explained. We give the gift to them of our beautiful area and our hospitality during tourist season and right now we need them to play their part."

Shannon County Health Center Administrator Kandra Counts says if the coronavirus makes it to Shannon County and could be crippling.

"We just don't have the resources, the medical personnel, the supplies to respond to it, once is starts spreading," Counts exclaimed.

The county's emergency management director has instructed first responders not to respond to calls where a person is showing COVID-19 symptoms.

"The closest ambulance base here in Eminence is 10 miles away, Counts said. If that ambulance is gone on a call, now you're talking about coming form 30 miles away, it could take an hour or more before the ambulance arrives."

Suffering together in April and May so that the rest of the summer could potentially be normal again.

"I'm just so proud of our local authorities to take action to protect it's citizens," Chilton-Dodson said.

The Shannon County Public Health Emergency Order stays in effect until April 24th.