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Symptom-free party-goers could still spread COVID-19

"Because you can be spreading it while you're not feeling sick, and that is what is so very tricky about this virus," Dr. Elward said.

ST. LOUIS — Over Memorial Day weekend, Missouri waded into the national debate over social distancing. People around the country are pushing back on state orders to keep six feet of separation and avoid large crowds. 

The reasoning? People said they can't spread a virus they don't have. 

"I'm healthy. I'm assuming everybody that's going down there's healthy if they weren't they'd be in a hospital or at home like miserable," Tyler Crancer told 5 On Your Side after partying at Lake of the Ozarks in crowds of people.

But doctors say that's not how COVID-19 attacks.

"My heart sank," said Dr. Alexis Elward of the viral videos from the weekend. Dr. Elward is the Chief Medical Officer at St. Louis Children's Hospital and an infectious disease specialist at Washington University.

She says crowds like those at the lake can lead to more cases of COVID-19 even if everyone there was fever free and showing no symptoms. 

"Because you can be spreading it while you're not feeling sick, and that is what is so very tricky about this virus," Dr. Elward said.

"You might feel well enough to go to work. You might feel well enough to go to a party," she said.

But, you can still have the virus and spread it before any symptoms show up. And for some, the symptoms can be mild.

"I can't stress enough how important it is to maintain those distances, because you can be shutting this virus before you even know you're sick," said Dr. Elward, who also said people who beat COVID-19 can also spread for weeks after they've recovered. 

Doctors said we'll have to keep social distancing for the foreseeable future until there's a vaccine that is safe and widely available.

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