White House Task Force recommends mask mandate, bar closures for Missouri to combat COVID-19

Published: Sep. 8, 2020 at 6:01 PM CDT
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LAKE OZARK, Mo. (KY3) - When top White House Coronavirus Advisor Dr. Deborah Birx made a stop in Missouri last month, she called on Missourians to wear masks and not go to crowded bars or backyard parties.

“It doesn’t matter if you’re a Democrat or a Republican, you need to wear a mask and socially distance," Birx said.

In a report dated August 30, the White House Coronavirus Task Force told Missouri to put a statewide mask mandate in place. The task force said Missouri has the 10th highest rate of new COVID-19 cases per capita, putting the state in the ‘red zone.’

Missouri’s Republican Governor, Mike Parson, has balked at the idea.

“The governor has always said we’re going to let the counties and the mayors make the decisions because they know their local part better," said Lake Ozark Mayor, Gerry Murawski.

There has not been a mask mandate in either Camden or Miller Counties, which are also in the ‘red zone.’

The White House Coronavirus Task Force says bars and restaurants in red zone counties should only allow 25% capacity to dine inside.

There were no restrictions on bars and restaurants at the Lake of the Ozarks for the Labor Day Holiday Weekend, and there haven’t been restrictions, unless self-imposed by individual businesses, since May.

“Just for the tourist season, it’s been insane," said Courtney Soucier.

Soucier, a bartender at Rock Island Line, said this summer has been one of the busiest ever. She thinks limiting the capacity of bars and restaurants now, wouldn’t be of much help.

“It’s too far past," Soucier said. “With the events, and with as many people coming into town, it’s going to be nonstop people talking to each other, being face-to-face. If they passed it now, it wouldn’t make a difference.”

Murawski estimates the Lake of the Ozarks has seen nearly 10 million visitors this summer, almost double what it normally sees. He believes since there are low active cases, things can continue as they have all season.

”I do put stock in their recommendations, but their focus is one thing, and that’s health," Murawski said. “You gotta look at economy and health. It’s a balancing thing between those. When one gets bad, you shut down the other one for a little bit. That’s just common sense in my opinion.”

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