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4 July will be different this year. How can you celebrate Independence Day in 2020?

By Alma Fabiani

Jul 3, 2020

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For most Americans, celebrating 4 July involves multiple traditions. From parades and fireworks displays to family reunions, Independence Day is usually celebrated through mass gatherings taking place all over the country. But this year, the US’ most popular ways to mark the nation’s independence from Britain in 1776 might exacerbate the COVID-19 outbreak, health officials warned. Here is why 4 July 2020 will not be the same.

On Thursday 2 July, according to Bloomberg, the US reported 56,800 new coronavirus infections, surpassing Wednesday’s record of 52,789 and marking the highest increase since 9 May, as the curve rose in 40 states. As the Fourth of July weekend approaches, many health officials are recommending people to stay at home. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) forecast that up to 160,000 people could die from the virus by 25 July, meaning that most people would get infected during the celebration of this weekend. The CDC also stated that 11 states are likely to report more deaths in the next month than the previous four weeks.

In response to these frightening predictions and ahead of the holiday weekend, some states are calling off Independence Day celebrations as they fear most events could become super-spreader ones. As COVID-19 cases rise in states such as Arizona, California, Texas and Florida, and as more and more Americans refuse to wear masks, it is understandable health officials worry about the aftermath. Similarly, after Memorial Day 2020, the US saw a sharp rise in coronavirus cases.

State leaders in Nebraska suggested that holiday cookout hosts keep guest lists to make contact tracing easier if there was an outbreak. Oregon’s health authority warned residents that “the safest choice this holiday is to celebrate at home.” In Los Angeles, the health department ordered beaches closed and firework shows cancelled.

For those of you who are already disappointed by the weekend’s cancelled parades and family barbecues, there seems to be one fun event to come out of the situation; secret fireworks. Fireworks displays are synonymous with Independence Day, and while many of them have been cancelled, BBC reports that “some organisers have come up with ingenious ways to ensure they can still go ahead without crowds gathering to watch.” For example in New York City, the Macy’s Fireworks Show will be held over a series of nights at unspecified locations and times. Each show will last for just five minutes to avoid crowds being able to gather.

Beyond the coronavirus pandemic, the US has also seen a wave of nationwide Black Lives Matter protests following the death of George Floyd, which led to new demands for an end to institutional racism. As many of these protests targeted statues of controversial historical figures—as seen in the UK as well—US officials became concerned that Independence Day could see further actions at different monuments.

As the celebrations kick off today with President Trump attending Mount Rushmore National Monument’s first firework display in more than a decade, this Fourth of July weekend is bound to create more problems than the US can handle. Independence Day 2020 will be unlike any other—let’s just hope its aftermath will be manageable.