KANSAS CITY, Mo — Health directors on both sides of the state line say what happened in the Ozarks could spark a COVID-19 outbreak.
Partiers disregarding social distancing guidelines over Memorial Day Weekend prompted health directors to recommend a 14-day self quarantine for people who participated.
It’s believed that just one person infected with COVID-19 can infect dozens of people. The CDC reports over a third of people infected with the virus show no symptoms, and that’s what makes it so dangerous.
“I couldn’t believe it,” said Dr. Lee Norman, Secretary of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment. “I mean, I was surprised, disappointed and thinking how irresponsible of people who know better and should act different.”
After seeing a video shot at Backwater Jack’s Bar & Grill in Osage Beach, Norman issued an official release urging people who participated in those types of activities at the Ozarks to self-quarantine for 14 days.
“It’s not just about themselves. They are going to take somebody else down with them. It’s going to be loved ones and oldsters and people with other conditions,” Norman said.
“I know I sound like an old party pooper, but in reality we are trying to drive this thing away, and irresponsible conduct like that is just going to make it harder and harder.”
Matthew Leisman, his friend and their families spent Memorial Day Weekend in the Ozarks. On Friday night they pulled up to Backwater Jack’s for some dinner, and what they saw caused them to leave.
“There was quite a few people and, of course, no one was wearing masks and absolutely not 6 feet away from each other for sure,” Leisman said. “It was surprising because it was different than everything that we have seen on TV and have experienced in the Kansas City area.”
KCMO Health Director Dr. Rex Archer estimates it could take up to five weeks to see a spike in cases from Memorial Day weekend partying in the Ozarks.
And he said if the people in Backwater Jacks’ pool and other places that weren’t social distancing refuse to self-quarantine, they should at least protect the public.
“At the very least, please respect others and wear a mask or face covering when you’re out in public,” Archer said. “That will reduce the chances that if you are carrying the disease and don’t know it that you don’t spread it to others.”
Norman points to an example of lake partying that spread COVID-19.
The first week of May a much smaller group than the one in the Ozarks tied their boats up at Lake Perry and party hopped. From that, quite a few cases spread to multiple counties in three states.
“If there a couple of cases that come out of the Ozarks, there are going to be hundreds of contacts to trace. And it’s just a terrible waste of resources, and it’s dangerous,” Norman said. “There will be cases that emanate from that.”