x
Breaking News
More () »

WPMT FOX43 | News in Harrisburg, York, Lancaster, Lebanon News, Weather, Sports

Missouri health director's dire warning to partiers: 'COVID-19 is still here'

Dr. Randall Williams sent the statement after the holiday weekend led to big crowds and viral social media posts of large groups of people at the Lake of the Ozarks

OSAGE BEACH, Mo. — Missouri’s top health official is reminding residents the coronavirus is still a concern and social distancing needs to continue, even as we get into the summer season and cities loosen some restrictions.

Dr. Randall Williams issued a statement Monday morning, after the holiday weekend led to big crowds – and viral social media posts of large groups of people gathered at the Lake of the Ozarks.

“We want to remind everyone to be safe during this Memorial Day,” said Williams, director of the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services.

“This Memorial Day, we caution that COVID-19 is still here, and social distancing needs to continue to prevent further spread of infections.”

RELATED: Memorial Day weekend crowds at Lake of the Ozarks appear to not be observing social distancing

Photos and videos posted online showed people of all ages huddled around swim-up bars and hanging out in large groups at businesses at bars in Osage Beach.

In some of the photos, you seen a banner that reads: “Please practice social distancing – 6 feet apart”.

Credit: KSDK

“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,” Williams said in his statement.

“The virus can be transmitted even among those young and healthy who aren’t experiencing symptoms. When they then carry the virus and transmit it to a more vulnerable person, this is when we tend to see the long-lasting and tragic impact of these decisions that are being made,” Williams continued.

5 On Your Side reached out to the managers of two bars shown in those videos. They both declined to comment.

Credit: KSDK

Osage Beach Mayor John Olivarri said he’s concerned about the customers seen in the posts, but said they knew what they were getting into.

“This is one of our big weekends. Everyone knows that," Mayor Olivarri said. "So, if people made the conscientious decision to come down here and to participate at whatever level they elect to participate, they have made that decision.”

RELATED: Osage Beach mayor says social distancing an issue of personal responsibility after viral photos

St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson expressed more concern in her statement to 5 On Your Side.

"It's irresponsible and dangerous to engage in such high-risk behavior just to have some fun over the extended holiday weekend. Now, these folks will be going home to St. Louis and counties across Missouri and the Midwest, raising concerns about the potential of more positive cases, hospitalizations, and tragically, deaths."

READ MORE: St. Louis County issues travel advisory after viral photos of crowded Lake of the Ozarks bars

Full statement from Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services Director Dr. Randall Williams:

“We want to remind everyone to be safe during this Memorial Day. Wearing your seatbelt and driving responsibly and wearing life jackets and taking other water safety measures is extremely important as it is each year during this holiday weekend. This Memorial Day, we caution that COVID-19 is still here, and social distancing needs to continue to prevent further spread of infections. 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. The virus can be transmitted even among those young and healthy who aren’t experiencing symptoms. When they then carry the virus and transmit it to a more vulnerable person, this is when we tend to see the long-lasting and tragic impact of these decisions that are being made.”