How to factor COVID-19 into your Memorial Day lake tradition

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Posted at 6:38 AM, May 22, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-22 08:14:15-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — When the workday comes to a close the Friday of Memorial Day weekend, thousands of Kansas Citians typically hit the highway and head to Lake of the Ozarks in central Missouri.

The tradition may look different in 2020 because of the spread of COVID-19.

Doctors from the University of Kansas Health System haven’t told people they can’t go to the lake, but are reminding them of a popular Midwest slogan: “There’s no place like home.”

If you’re considering going to Lake of the Ozarks or traveling somewhere else this weekend, doctors want you to factor these five points into your decision-making process.

  • First, weigh the risks versus the rewards. Being in a crowded area with tourists from other parts of the country could increase your chances of catching the virus.
  • Keep your group small. Don’t congregate in groups larger than 10 people. And stick with the same people you’ve had in your bubble since stay-at-home orders went into effect.
  • Drive instead of flying. Dr. Dana Hawkinson, an infectious diseases doctor at the University of Kansas Health System, said driving gives you more control over who you have around you and control over the cleanliness of your vehicle.
  • Don’t be afraid to sanitize a hotel room or Aribnb upon checking in.
  • Don’t go anywhere if you can’t keep up the common public health habits like washing your hands often, wearing a mask and staying socially distant.

“Remember there are going to be a lot more Memorial Days. What you want to do is have good memories going forward. Sometimes it just takes time. You want to be safe. Don’t rush it. Don’t go out there and do things we’ve been telling you not to do,” explained Dr. Steven Stites, the chief medical officer for the University of Kansas Health System.

If you do end up at the lake, Mike Smith said you won’t be alone. The insurance agent from Lee’s Summit, Missouri, owns a home at Lake of the Ozarks and has been down a few times already this spring.

“The lake is kind of a breath of fresh air,” he said. “The lake is extremely busy. What we saw two weeks ago, it was 80 degrees and the lake was really, really busy like a Fourth of July weekend.”

He said boat fuel is cheap, which means there will be lots of boaters this weekend. He has seen plenty of people golfing, swimming and fishing; activities they can do while socially distant.

Most of the restaurants are open with limited dine-in service under Gov.Mike Parson’s Show Me Strong Recovery Plan. Smith said some restaurants will even serve you on your boat while it’s docked so you don’t have to go into the dining room.

The counties around Lake of the Ozarks have fewer confirmed positive COVID-19 cases than counties around Kansas City.

  • Camden County: 36
  • Miller County: 4
  • Morgan County: 8
  • KC metro (in Missouri and Kansas): 4,652

Johnson County, KS
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