ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. – As Missouri draws national attention—and criticism—over large gatherings flouting social distancing recommendations, St. Louis County is taking action.
Fox2 reports St. Louis County Executive Dr. Sam Page responded Monday after several videos appeared on social media showing hundreds of people—without face masks—packed in swimming pools and summer venues in Lake of the Ozarks.
The county department of public health has issued a travel advisory and is urging anyone who traveled to Lake of the Ozarks or anywhere else over the weekend while ignoring health recommendations to self-quarantine for 14 days or until they test negative for COVID-19.
“This reckless behavior endangers countless people and risks setting us back substantially from the progress we have made in slowing the spread of COVID-19,” Page said. “I encourage everyone to follow the Department of Public Health advisory to determine a safe path forward in the workplace.”
The lake is a popular getaway for residents across the state.
Governor Mike Parson allowed businesses and attractions to reopen earlier this month while the state maintained an order that people going out in public practice social distancing and stay 6-feet apart from one another.
Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services Director Randall Williams warned everyone “(the virus) is still here” and people must exercise caution and use common sense when going out in public.
Symptoms can appear anywhere between two and 14 days after exposure. Those symptoms include cough or sore throat, fever, difficulty breathing, and loss of taste or smell. Most people who catch COVID-19 will recover in two or three weeks. However, older adults and people with preexisting health problems could be at risk of more severe symptoms and even death.
At present, the department of health recommends employers screen employees for the novel coronavirus. After this weekend, the DPH is asking employers to consider add new questions their screening process as more businesses reopen:
- Were those you traveled with or spent time with while away from home within 6 feet of others during your trip?
- Do you live with someone who is more likely to become ill from COVID-19?
- Are you or those you were traveling with more likely to become ill from COVID19?
- If you get sick with COVID-19, will you have to miss work?
Camden County Sheriff Tony Helms issued a statement Monday in response to the large crowds. He said he cannot enforce social distancing guidelines because they are not law.
The sheriff said everyone who visited the lake over the weekend and frequented businesses and attractions each made their own decision, adding that it’s the right of individuals to do so and their own responsibility to follow any health guidelines.
You can read the sheriff’s statement below in its entirety.