Gov. Parson: 'Poor decisions were made' by partiers at Lake of the Ozarks over Memorial Day Weekend

Published: May. 26, 2020 at 5:51 PM CDT
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Missouri Governor Mike Parson wasted no time in his first news conference after Memorial Day Weekend.

"First of all, let me start off, I know there's been a lot of news this weekend about the Lake of the Ozarks, so we might as well address that right off the bat," Parson said.

Parson condemned the actions of partiers at several different pool bars across the Lake, including Backwater Jacks, Coconuts, and Redheads.

Videos and pictures showed customers at those bars packed into the pools, not following social distancing guidelines in the midst of the global COVID-19 pandemic.

"I think it's important when social distancing is not followed, it's potentially dangerous for everyone, especially our most at-risk individuals," Parson said.

Parson acknowledged many of the people seen in those pictures and videos are not local. He said that creates a big problem.

"Everybody's going back home," Parson said. "Everybody's going to different districts, different towns and everything, which complicates the issue to say the least."

"It's very different than hair dressers, in which they kept a very detailed record on who they were around. We can do contact tracing on that," said Dr. Randall Williams, Director of the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services.

City and health leaders in St. Louis and Kansas City have asked those from their cities to voluntarily self-isolate for 14 days if they were at the Lake, not following any social distancing guidelines.

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment is asking that for any person in the state who may have participated in similar events at the Lake of the Ozarks.

As far as any action being taken against the businesses shown in videos and photos, Parson said it'll be up to the local health departments.

"There's an action they take through the courts if they want to get something done," Parson said.

KY3/KSPR's Andrew Havranek

asked Parson and Williams if more testing would be available for those at the Lake of the Ozarks, especially employees at bars and restaurants that were busy over the holiday weekend.

"We'd do it like it was any other place. We'd do the boxed in strategy and we'd go down there and we'd start testing people if we saw a little bit of an outbreak on that," Parson said.

Williams stressed the importance on following social distancing guidelines moving forward.

"We think it's great to be outdoors, but you still need to practice social distancing," Williams said. "As we go into the next weekend, and the weekends after that and we have warm weather and more people go outside, we really don't want to backslide here."


asked the Camden County Health Department for comment, but has not heard back despite leaving voicemails and sending several emails and messages on Facebook.

The Lake of the Ozarks Convention and Visitors Bureau declined to comment, but did hold an emergency meeting, closed both to the public and media, Tuesday morning.