The Slatest

Americans Pack Beaches, Boardwalks, Parties on Memorial Day Weekend

People walk at the boardwalk in Venice Beach during the first day of the Memorial Day holiday weekend amid the novel Coronavirus, COVID-19, pandemic in California on May 23, 2020.
People walk at the boardwalk in Venice Beach during the first day of the Memorial Day holiday weekend amid the novel Coronavirus, COVID-19, pandemic in California on May 23, 2020. APU GOMES/Getty Images

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Americans were eager to get their Summer started this weekend and they flocked to outdoor spaces over Memorial Day Weekend. After spending lots of time indoors, many were clearly eager to get outside and socialize again. And some did not seem to care much about social-distancing guidelines, leading to warnings about a possible resurgence of the coronavirus that has already killed almost 100,000 people across the country.

One set of images that spread like wildfire on social media involved partiers crowding together in a pool at the Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri. Locals said it was a notably big crowd. “It seems like everyone is having the same idea, to come to the lake to enjoy summer, because you can social distance at the same time,” said a local who shot a time-lapse drone video of the boat traffic on the Lake of the Ozarks on Saturday.

Visitors also crowded the boardwalk in Ocean City, Maryland. A photo shot by a Reuters photographer showed many people were not wearing face masks.

Lots of people also crowded beaches in Florida, with officials in the Gulf Coast closing beaches when they got full. Many who tried to go to the beach in the mid-afternoon ended up being turned away as beaches reached an “unprecedented level of closures.” Although some praised the way many beachgoers appeared to be trying to maintain a safe distance, others weren’t so optimistic. “I have never seen this many umbrellas,” one beachgoer said. “This is not social-distancing at all. There’s way too many people.” There were also huge crowds in Daytona Beach, where a shooting erupted after some 200 people gathered in the streets.

As people tried to enjoy the unofficial start of the Summer and President Donald Trump celebrated that “cases, numbers and deaths are going down,” other White House officials emphasized that people still needed to be careful. Stephen M. Hahn, the Food and Drug Administration commissioner, warned on Twitter that the coronavirus “is not yet contained.” Deborah Birx, coordinator of the White House coronavirus task force, said she was “very concerned” about scenes of people crowding together over the holiday weekend. “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.

Trump was among the many Americans who decided to spend time outside Sunday, as he headed to his golf course in Virginia for the second day in a row. The president went to play golf again hours after presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden released an attack ad blasting Trump for playing golf as the coronavirus death toll in the United States neared the 100,000-mark.