Lake of the Ozarks was trending on Twitter Sunday morning as videos and photos of crowded pools and docks circulated on social media, angering many viewers.
People flocked to the popular central Missouri tourist destination for Memorial Day weekend celebrations as businesses began to reopen for the first time amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Jacob Buehler, who drove in from the Kansas City metro area, told The Star he’s been coming down in recent months to explore the area and hasn’t noticed much of a decrease in boat traffic.
While he rode around at the Lake of the Ozarks Saturday, he said he stuck to social distancing measures whenever he touched land.
But videos of parties circulating on social media Saturday depict gatherings where crowds weren’t heeding social distancing guidelines, despite signage around them.
Some on social media expressed concerns that partygoers would pick up the virus and bring it to their communities when they returned home.
Scott Pasmore, an anchor for KTVK-3TV in Arizona, posted a video to Twitter Saturday showing hundreds of people in swimsuits gathered at a pool and dock.
“No covid concerns at the lake of the ozarks,” he wrote on Twitter.
The video had 3.6 million views Sunday morning.
Bryce Derrickson, a producer with KOLR-TV in Springfield, tweeted a video Saturday of more party-goers crowding a pool at Osage Beach.
Lake goers can be seen in large crowds while not wearing masks or standing six feet part. https://t.co/HM8Yk3DV6w
— KOLR10 KOZL (@kolr10kozl) May 24, 2020
Collin Jeffery with KSDK-5 in St. Louis, tweeted a series of photos he received Saturday of crowds not following signs asking them to maintain six feet of social distancing.
Torrey Ward, a Democratic leader in St. Louis, which has one of the highest COVID-19 infection rates and the most deaths in the state, tweeted that she was “fully depressed” after looking at the photos from Lake of the Ozarks festivities.
“I guess this means the rest of us have to stay in seclusion for a lot longer cuz you know at least some of those people are going to come back to St Louis and spread it around,” She wrote on Twitter.
Actor and comedian John Fugelsang retweeted Pasmore’s video of the crowded pool, adding, “I’m glad nobody at Lake of the Ozarks believes in Darwin bc he actually had a term for this.”
Kylee Howard, a dock manager for Paradise Restaurant and Bar, said ahead of the weekend that they were trying to minimize foot traffic on the dock by keeping customers from mingling.
At Backwater Jacks Bar & Grill, a “Zero Ducks Given Pool Party” was advertised for Saturday. A manager did not return request for comment ahead of the party.
A post on Facebook described the extra safety precautions, including reduced capacity, non-contact thermal temperature screening and personal bottles of hand sanitizer.
“It’s been terrific because most things down here are pretty open,” Robin Sebers, who was visiting Lake of the Ozarks from Illinois on Saturday. “It’s as close to normal as you can possibly get. Illinois is still pretty much locked down.”
The Star’s Souichi Terada and Cortlynn Stark contributed.
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