A Lake of the Ozarks mayor has rushed to defend the area after it caught heat for the second time over viral videos of crowded parties, as Missouri’s coronavirus outbreak worsens.
Lake Ozark Mayor Gerry Murawski told local media that tourism has proven more infectious than coronavirus for the town and has doubled since local bars were first blasted for large parties over the Memorial Day weekend.
‘So you just think about what this has done for our economy and you just go, “Thank you folks”,’ Murawski told Fox 4.
Lake Ozark Mayor Gerry Murawski thanked the parties fro boosting local tourism
An EDM party crowded with people at Shady Gators’ pool area Saturday was criticized after video on social media showed a lack of masks and social distancing despite the pandemic
‘And as the end of July, my numbers say we are already at 9.1 million,’ he added, claiming that visitors to Lake Ozark, a city within the Lake of the Ozarks region, are already more than the last two years combined.
Murawski said it was all thanks to the publicity the waterfront bars were receiving from the viral videos and that while he had been initially concerned about coronavirus spread, there was no major increase in cases in the area.
‘I look at that and go, “Well, maybe we’ve done something right”,’ he said.
‘We were worried – we thought two weeks after that our counts are going to go up, but they didn’t at all.’
The town was in the national spotlight for the second time this weekend after TMZ shared a video of a EDM party that took place in Shady Gators’ pool area Saturday.
The video appeared to show hundreds of young people ignoring social distancing guidelines, packed together and not wearing masks.
The bar has hit back at the criticism, KRMS Radio reports, claiming that the video does not show the full story and that they followed strict measures to prevent any spread of the virus.
The bar said they are an entirely outdoor venue, operated at only 50 percent capacity, encouraged everyone to wear masks and handed out free bottles of hand sanitizer to everyone who entered.
The bar has claimed that the video (pictured above) was not reflective of the measures they had taken to ensure that there was no coronavirus spread at the event
The video appeared to show hundreds of young people packed together last weekend
‘A Clean Team of 3 individuals are constantly cleaning high traffic areas and restrooms throughout the entire duration of the event,’ their statement said.
They bar added that they will be hosting another party this weekend.
Yet despite the measures outlined, the party has still been condemned by local officials.
Missouri Governor Mike Parson said for the second time that he is disappointed to see the pool parties continuing.
‘Disappointing is all I can tell you,’ he said Wednesday. ‘Every day for months we’ve been up here telling people to social distance, social distance. But again, people have got to take this responsibility on their own.
‘The quicker we stop doing things like that, the quicker the state’s going to get back on track,’ the governor added.
Parson, who won the Republican primary for governor earlier this week, said that Missouri is among of the states that the White House was most concerned about in terms of its growing outbreak.
‘On Sunday, Vice President Pence personally called me to offer additional assistance and resources as Missouri continues to fight this virus,’ Parson said.
On Wednesday, Missouri reported a further 1,000 new coronavirus cases.
Missouri Governor Mike Parson said for the second time that he is disappointed to see the pool parties continuing and called on residents to use social distancing measures
The party is the second time the area has hit national headlines for crowded events
Lake of the Ozarks was first criticized for these crowded pool parties Memorial Day weekend
The average age of those infected with the virus in the state is also significantly dropping, with Parson’s noting that there has been a ‘notable increase in positive cases among young adults’.
According to KMOX, 38 percent of COVID-19 cases in the state are made up of people between 20- and 39-years-old.
‘While younger, healthy people are less likely to have severe symptoms related to COVID-19, they can pass the virus onto others who are more at-risk,’ Parson warned.
According to Fox 4, as of Monday, there were less than 500 coronavirus cases in the three counties that touch Lake of the Ozarks out of more than 56,000 cases reported statewide.
Yet while parties may not boosting infections in the local area, St. Louis County’s executive said they are major part of the problem further afield and that some of their county’s 13,000 cases can be traced back to party goers.
Hundreds of revelers put themselves at risk of contracting the virus after crowds of people partied at the Lake of the Ozark reservoir in Missouri over the Memorial Day weekend
‘We did have some cases that were able to trace back to crowds, including events at the Lake of the Ozarks,’ said St. Louis County Executive Dr. Sam Page.
‘One of the many opportunities in the community where social distancing is relaxed, people aren’t wearing masks in large crowds.’
Over Memorial Day weekend, social media postings from Lake of the Ozarks showed large crowds of mostly young people without masks and not adhering to social distancing guidelines at pools along the central Missouri lake that is a popular weekend getaway spot.
The pictures and video of crowds at the lake prompted a public outcry and led health officials to urge anyone who attended the parties to self-quarantine for 14 days.
Despite a sign at Shady Gators asking people to keep six feet apart, people are seen crowding around the packed venue at weekend parties. The bar says it plans to continue its events
Blackwater Jack’s hosted their first party of the summer pool season on Memorial Day despite the coronavirus pandemic. People were seen in a crowded pool at a venue decorated in flags
Following the event, state health officials said no additional cases of coronavirus were reported stemming from the crowded pool parties.
However, Camden County Health Department reported that a person who had attended the parties tested positive for the virus shortly afterward.
The man, who had attended a ‘Zero Ducks Give’ party, potentially put hundreds of people at risk of infection after being in the Lake area on May 23 and May 24.
Officials tried to trace anyone who may have come into contact with the one person who has tested positive, releasing a brief timeline of their whereabouts including stops at a bar called Backwater Jacks, a bar and restaurant that has a pool, as well as a dining and pool venue called Shady Gators and Lazy Gators.
The Zero Ducks Given Memorial Day Weekend party faced backlash over the lack of social distancing after photos surfaced on social media showing the crowded pools
A Boone County resident who attended the ‘Zero Ducks Given’ party over Memorial Day Weekend tested positive for COVID-19, placing hundreds more at risk
After the holiday weekend Camden County Sheriff Tony Helms also said that his office would not be enforcing social distancing as that was the duty of the state health officials.
“Social distancing is not a crime, and therefore, the sheriff’s office has no authority to enforce actions in that regard,” he said in a statement posted to his office’s Facebook page.
There are 56,383 cases of coronavirus in Missouri as of Thursday afternoon and there have been 1,280 deaths.
There were more than 1,000 new daily cases reported over at least the past three days and seven more deaths were reported Wednesday.
Missouri’s coronavirus restrictions are less restrictive than other states despite the rising numbers.
Yet Gov. Parson’s has urged residents to observe social distancing, wear a mask and wash their hands.
‘We need EVERYONE to take COVID-19 seriously, no matter how old you are,’ he tweeted Wednesday.