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State health officials brace for potential surge in COVID-19 cases after Lake of the Ozarks parties

"My first gut reaction in a word is just irresponsible,” Dr. Dana Hawkinson from University of Kansas Medical Center said. "We've said, be outside is the best thing and social distance, not or, but both of those things."

Posted: May 27, 2020 1:14 PM

(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) It's the memorial day weekend seen around the world.

Holiday pool parties and packed bars at the Lake of the Ozarks that is drawing criticism from doctors.

"My first gut reaction in a word is just irresponsible,” Dr. Dana Hawkinson from University of Kansas Medical Center said. "We've said, be outside is the best thing and social distance, not or, but both of those things."

State officials have also criticized the holiday weekend parties.

“Just because you’re outdoors, you still need to be six feet away,” Missouri Health director Dr. Randall Williams said. “It’s great to be outdoors but you still need to practice social distancing.”

“I think it’s important when social distancing is not followed, is as potentially dangerous for everyone,” Missouri Governor Mike Parson said. “Especially our most at risk individuals.”

Doctors say it's now a waiting game since the impact won't be known for one to two weeks.

“The problems that it creates is very different from hairdressers in which they kept a very detailed record of who they were around, we can do contact tracing on that,” Williams said. “But when it comes to the pictures you saw, it’s very, very difficult to do that.”

It’s the same game doctors and health officials have been playing since states across the country began to reopen.

“Until we know the full data by looking back, we don’t know the full effect of everything including the reopenings,” Hawkinson said.

Hoping people are careful and practice social distancing.

“Maybe there's a lot of people that don't know anyone that's been sick, you know, because we've been able to keep those numbers down.” University of Kansas Chancellor Doug Girod said. “I know several people that have been sick, and some who have lost parents and it's very real but I don't think everyone has had that experience."

But after watching how some celebrated the long weekend.

“The problem is everybody is going back home, everybody is going back to different districts, different towns and everything,” Parson said. “Which kind of complicated the issue to say the least.”

Officials are bracing for another surge in COVID-19 cases.

“I think people think, 'well gosh, maybe it's overblown, it's over-talked about, and people got too excited and they got panicked and we are not New York, and fortunately we are not New York and Italy,” Dr. Steven Stites from the University of Kansas Medical Center said. “But the idea that it's not real will unfortunately run into a stone cold reality when you start to lose people that you are close to."

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Light snow, or flurries with a transition to light rain is possible for northeast Missouri and northeast Kansas Monday. Less than a 1/2" of snowfall is expected. A fairly substantial warm up is projected for Wednesday. Then a cold front will work its way through the region Wednesday night with cooler weather behind it for the end of the week.
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