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Missouri mayor defends concerts, parties during COVID-19 pandemic

Coronavirus

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (KTVI) – Missouri is reporting more than 1,000 new cases of COVID-19 Monday and, as numbers rise, the Lake of the Ozarks is once again making national news for holding parties without social distancing or masks.

Lake officials are defending themselves while the St. Louis County Executive is calling them part of the problem.

This is the second time a waterfront bar has made national headlines. The first time the lake went viral was from a video over Memorial Day weekend and now a similar video went viral this past weekend.

There have been fewer than 500 cases in the three different counties touched by the lake. Lake Ozark Mayor Gerry Murawski said the national news coverage has doubled tourism.

“So you just think about what this has done for our economy and you just go, thank you folks,” Murawski said.

He said he’s seen more guests now than the past two years combined.

“And as the end of July, my numbers say we are already at 9.1 million,” he said.

Murawski said the boost is due to the publicity of the waterfront bars.

“I look at that and go, well, maybe we’ve done something right,” he added.

The mayor said the large crowds made him nervous at first.

“We were worried – we thought two weeks after that our counts are going to go up but they didn’t at all,” Murawski said.

However, St. Louis County Executive Dr. Sam Page said Monday morning that previous cases have been traced back to the lake. 

“We did have some cases that (we) were able to trace back to crowds including events at the Lake of the Ozarks,” Page said.

Now he’s asking those who might have been at the lake this weekend or in any big crowds to self-quarantine. 

“One of the many opportunities in the community where social distancing is relaxed, people aren’t wearing masks in large crowds,” Page said.

Mayor Murawski said he watches the number of cases daily and said the Lake of the Ozarks community is working together to prevent an outbreak.

“The water bars of a year ago to the water bars today, the pictures may look the same, but what goes on disinfecting tables and just different things,” Murawski said.

Shady Gators posted on social media that they were hosting a concert this weekend – their Facebook post said that there are no restrictions or mandates per the Missouri governor. However, they also said they were only operating at 50 percent capacity. They encourage mask-wearing but it is not required.

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