Missouri officials slam 'irresponsible and dangerous' behavior seen in images of Memorial Day crowds

Missouri officials on Monday slammed the “irresponsible and dangerous” behavior of people who crowded pools and patios at the Lake of the Ozarks over Memorial Day weekend.

Department of Health and Senior Services Director Randall Williams released a statement Monday warning people that the coronavirus pandemic is not over.

“This Memorial Day, we caution that COVID-19 is still here, and social distancing needs to continue to prevent further spread of infections,” he said. “Close contact with others even if you are in the outdoors is still considered close contact and can lead to more infections as we still have new cases of COVID-19 being detected each day in Missouri.”

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The comments come after videos and photos showed scores of people at the Lake of the Ozarks during the holiday weekend. Footage of a resort in the area, which went viral after being shared by an anchor for CNN affiliate KTVK in Arizona, showed dozens in the pool without masks.

St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson condemned the people in crowds, especially at the Lake of the Ozarks, calling their actions “irresponsible and dangerous.” The city of St. Louis does not have jurisdiction over the area, but its constituents frequently visit the lake.

“Now, these folks will be coming home to St. Louis and counties all over Missouri and the Midwest, raising concerns about the potential of more positive cases, hospitalizations, and tragically, deaths,” Krewson said, in a statement obtained by The Hill. “It’s just deeply disturbing.”

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The Lake of the Ozarks is a vacation destination bringing people from as far as Arkansas and Iowa. This includes many from St. Louis city and county, which has counted more than half of Missouri's cases and more than two-thirds of its deaths, according to The Associated Press.

Gov. Mike Parson (R) allowed businesses to reopen on May 4 as long as social distancing rules are maintained through the end of the month. 

Missouri has confirmed at least 12,167 cases of coronavirus, leading to at least 685 deaths, according to the state’s health department.

Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus task force coordinator, said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week” that people who are outside and cannot maintain social distancing “must wear a mask.”