Missouri’s Lake of the Ozarks packed amid COVID-19 pandemic

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COLUMBIA, Mo. – The coronavirus pandemic didn’t stop people from packing the central Missouri vacation hot spot of the Lake of the Ozarks for the Memorial Day holiday weekend, despite state social distancing orders.

Crowds flooded some bars and restaurants at the Lake of the Ozarks, which attracts Missouri residents, as well as people in surrounding states, including Illinois, Kansas, Arkansas and Iowa.

One video posted on social media shows a crammed pool where people lounged close together without masks.

Missouri’s statewide stay-at-home order expired earlier this month, but an order from the state health director requires 6-foot social distancing until at least the end of May.

It’s unclear what steps Lake of the Ozarks-area health officials are taking to enforce that order. Associated Press requests for comment left with local health departments, county officials and sheriff’s offices were not immediately returned Sunday.

Since the pandemic first hit Missouri, the state health department has reported 36 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Camden County and four in Miller County, which cover some of the Lake of the Ozarks area.

In total, the health department reported that the virus has sickened at least 11,752 people. The confirmed death toll is 676.

For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death.

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