Crowded Diamond Lake party sparks COVID-19 concerns

CASSOPOLIS, Mich. -- Videos from a local Fourth of July celebration have gone viral – and sparked outrage from some – as they show crowds packed together on the lake and not practicing social distancing.

Organizers put on an event at the Diamond Lake sandbar in Cassopolis and say it was organized by residents for residents.

But, some neighbors disagree.

“It’s not an event that’s sponsored by the Diamond Lake community or all of us members as a whole,” said Kevin Bradley, president of Hain’s Harbor Association. “My frustration is it just gave us as Diamond Lake residents a very bad name.”

Bradley says most of the people on the lake Saturday weren’t residents and while the lake is public, they were using private property as access points.

What’s worse — was the public intoxication, underage drinking and danger these partiers caused to themselves and others.

“This has turned into a totally promoted event with sponsorship and the lake community itself, I feel very comfortable saying as a majority, they don’t approve of what’s happening on the lake at this point,” said Bradley.

While they can’t keep people off public property, the health department is asking those who did organize the sandbar party to reconsider holding more events this summer.

“At this point, the state hasn’t closed beaches or open bodies of water, so we follow those guidelines, but any time you have the opportunity to limit gatherings, you’re always going to eliminate the risk, so that would be our preference,” said Danielle Persky, Deputy Health Officer for the Van Buren/Cass District Health Department.

They’re also asking people to not forget that simple safety measures make a big difference.

“Without knowing yet whether somebody was positive there or is going to have a positive test, the best thing they can do is to continue to self-monitor,” said Persky. “And if they want to take it a step further it would be even better to self-quarantine.”

Since most of the people at the event weren’t lake residents, the health department says this complicates contract tracing efforts.

Organizers have two more event’s scheduled this summer and say they haven’t decided to cancel yet, but don’t think there will be a spike in COVID-19 cases from this weekend.

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