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Missouri health director warns revelers: Virus is still here

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Missouri health director warns revelers: Virus is still here

Dr. Randall Williams, director of the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, addresses members of the House of Representatives Special Committee on Disease Control and Prevention during a hearing Monday, March 2, 2020. Photo by Julie Smith / News Tribune. Missouri’s health director issued a dire warning Monday after photos and video showed Memorial Day weekend revelers partying close together: The coronavirus is still here, and the spreading of illnesses could have "long-lasting and tragic" results.

One video on social media showed a crammed pool at Lake of the Ozarks, with people lounging and playing close together, without masks. The lake draws people not only from as far away as Arkansas and Iowa. It’s an especially popular spot for travelers from St. Louis city and county, which combined account for more than half of Missouri’s 12,167 confirmed cases of COVID-19, the illness caused by the virus, and more than two-thirds of the state’s 685 deaths.

Bars, restaurants and hotels at Lake of the Ozarks also had big crowds, and they weren’t alone. In Hannibal, Mark Twain’s hometown and a popular regional tourist attraction, people could be seen sitting shoulder-to-shoulder inside and out at downtown bars and restaurants over the weekend.

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Republican Gov. Mike Parson allowed Missouri businesses and attractions to reopen May 4, but the state order requires 6-foot social distancing through at least the end of May. The order leaves it up to local and state health officials to enforce social distancing.

The sheriff of Camden County, the area of the lake that attracts the most visitors, said in a statement there is no crime related to social distancing "and therefore […]

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