LAKE HAVASU CITY, Ariz — Despite social distancing recommendations and coronavirus concerns, large crowds packed the beaches in western Arizona.
“This weekend was very busy. Probably more than last year. Maybe even a lot more," said Jan Kassies, Lake Havasu's director of visitor services.
It was a full house at Lake Havasu over Memorial Day Weekend.
“A lot of them came from California. The launching areas were overflowing with long, long, long lines," Kassies said.
This was a stark contrast to the city just one month ago when thousands of locals signed a petition to close down the lake, concerned that tourists could bring the coronavirus with them and overwhelm area hospitals.
Lake Havasu City's mayor had put out a message urging tourists to stay home.
“We’ll welcome you back when this pandemic is behind us and we’re safe and healthy again to do so, so please stay home during these times," said Mayor Cal Sheehy.
Arizona's Department of Health Services says as of Memorial Day, Mohave County has 319 confirmed cases and 37 people have died from the coronavirus.
Will Humble, the executive director for the Arizona Public Health Association, warns large crowds could make it nearly impossible to contact trace.
“It’s disturbing quite honestly to see people ignoring the recommendations after everything that’s been sacrificed," Humble said.
As out-of-towners continue to flock to the popular party spot, Kassies hopes they do so responsibly.
“We have to be careful and for everybody wherever you are from, we are a vacation town but the virus doesn’t have vacation," Kassies said.
The Mohave County Sheriff's Office says it had an increased presence on the water over the weekend. 12 News is waiting to hear if deputies issued any citations for a lack of social distancing.