As Memorial Day weekend arrived, many Americans took the warm weather and long holiday weekend as a chance to get back to normal life — with pool parties and beach outings with little social distancing, drawing some concern from public health experts.
Dr. Deborah Birx, coordinator of the White House coronavirus task force, said on Sunday talk shows that she was “very concerned” about people crowding together over the holiday weekend. She noted that social distancing and wearing masks in public was “absolutely critical,” since some people have no symptoms: “You don’t know who’s infected,” she said.
“We really want to be clear all the time that social distancing is absolutely critical. And if you can’t social distance and you’re outside, you must wear a mask,” she said on ABC’s “This Week.”
However, in Florida, Cocoa Beach was packed with people on Saturday. According to the Orlando Sentinel, few beachgoers wore masks and beach towels and umbrellas were set up close to others.
In the Tampa area along Florida’s Gulf Coast, the crowds were so big that authorities took the extraordinary step of closing parking lots because they were full, according to the Associated Press.
Meanwhile, Penascola Beach in Florida is open to the public from sunrise to sundown, even as Memorial Day weekend events there were canceled, according to a local TV station. Many took advantage of being able to sunbathe, although the social distancing standards there — groups of no more than 10 people and staying six feet apart from others — seemed to be espoused by some.
In Missouri, people packed bars and restaurants over the weekend at the Lake of the Ozarks, a vacation spot popular with Chicagoans. One video showed a crammed pool where vacationers lounged close together without masks.
In California, many also flocked to the shoreline, although many seemed to at least try to observe social distancing from other.
People could also be seen strolling close to others along the boardwalk in Seaside Heights, N.J. — where MTV’s “Jersey Shore” was filmed — but some told a local TV news station that the crowds were generally lower than a typical holiday weekend.
Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.