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Big Memorial Day weekend crowds raising virus-linked concerns

U.S. coronavirus death toll nears 100,000
U.S. coronavirus death toll nears 100,000 02:39

Big crowds have been turning out for the Memorial Day weekend in the U.S. amid warnings from authorities about people disregarding coronavirus social-distancing rules and risking a resurgence of the scourge that has killed nearly 100,000 Americans. Dr. Deborah Birx, coordinator of the White House coronavirus task force, said she was "very concerned" about scenes of people crowding together over the 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," Birx said on ABC's "This Week."

Former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb warned Sunday that COVID-19 "isn't contained yet" as all 50 states began easing restrictions imposed to curtail the spread of the coronavirus heading into the summer months.

"That doesn't mean we can't go out and start doing things, get back to some semblance of a normal life, but we need to do things differently. We need to define a new normal," he said on the CBS News broadcast "Face the Nation."

In Missouri, people packed bars and restaurants at the Lake of the Ozarks, a vacation spot popular with Chicagoans.

On Georgia's Tybee Island, the beach was filled with families, but at a nearby grocery store, staff members handed customers gloves and a number to keep track of how many people were inside.

FILE PHOTO: Visitors crowd the boardwalk on Memorial Day weekend in Ocean City, Maryland
With coronavirus restrictions relaxed, visitors crowd the boardwalk on Memorial Day weekend in Ocean City, Maryland. Kevin Lamarque / REUTERS

Hundreds of people gathered at a popular Florida beach boardwalk and were seen partying and dancing despite social distancing restrictions imposed by the state to combat the coronavirus pandemic, authorities said Sunday.

Police responded, attempting to disperse the crowds along a beachside road in Daytona Beach that were there for an annual gathering that was not authorized by the local government this year.

In California, beaches and parks were open for swimming, running and other activities.

At New York's Orchard Beach in the Bronx, kids played with toys, and people sat in folding chairs. Some wore winter coats on a cool and breezy day, and many wore masks and sat apart from others.

"Good to be outside. Fresh air. Just good to enjoy the outdoors," said Danovan Clacken, whose face was covered.

Revelers celebrate Memorial Day weekend at Osage Beach of the Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri
Revelers celebrate Memorial Day weekend at Osage Beach of the Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri on May 23, 2020 in this screen grab taken from social media video and obtained by Reuters.  Twitter/Lawler50 via Reuters

On the Navajo Nation, which sprawls across the states of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah, the number of virus cases rose by 56 on Sunday to 4,689, according to the local health department.

The U.S. is on track to surpass 100,000 coronavirus deaths in the next few days, while Europe has seen over 169,000 dead, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University that almost certainly understates the toll. Worldwide, more than 5.4 million people have been infected and nearly 345,000 have died.

The issue of wearing masks in public and staying several feet apart has become fraught politically, with some Americans arguing that such rules violate their rights.

Republican Gov. Mike DeWine of Ohio, who has been targeted by such demonstrations, insisted the precautions should not be a partisan issue.

"This is not about whether you are liberal or conservative, left or right, Republican or Democrat," he said on NBC's "Meet the Press." 

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