BRANSON, Mo. — A medical assistant at a Branson-area clinic has died from COVID-19.

The announcement of the death of Marie Brumbaugh, 40, was made Wednesday by CoxHealth, which operates clinics and hospitals in Springfield, Branson, Monett and Lamar.

Officials couldn't pinpoint the source of Brumbaugh's infection with certainty, said Steve Edwards, president and CEO of CoxHealth, in a statement.

"There is a possibility she may have contracted the virus while caring for a patient undergoing routine clinic care unrelated to COVID-19," he said. "The patient needed to be unmasked for a short time during the course of treatment and tested positive for COVID-19 after the clinic visit. It is also possible she acquired it in the community, as the prevalence has been high in and around Taney County."

A scholarship and support fund has been established for Brumbaugh's daughter through the CoxHealth Foundation.

Edwards said in his statement that Brumbaugh's loss is a "realization of our greatest fear," and he asked that her death be a "reminder" of the seriousness of COVID-19.

"Please honor this loss by remaining physically distant, diligently masking and washing your hands," he said. "If you do not do these things to protect yourself, please do them to protect those around you."