The U.S. headed into the Fourth of July weekend with many parades and fireworks displays cancelled, beaches and bars closed and health authorities warning that this will be a crucial test of self-control that could determine the trajectory of the surging coronavirus outbreak in America.
With confirmed cases climbing in 40 states, governors and local officials have ordered the wearing of masks in public, and families were urged to celebrate their independence at home, and even then, to keep backyard cookouts small.
“This year is a huge bummer, to say the least,” said Ashley Peters, who for 14 years has hosted 150 friends and relatives at a pool party at her home in Manteca, Calif., complete with a DJ, bounce house, water slide and shaved-ice stand. This time, her guest list is down to just a few people.
Pulling the plug on the bash, she said, was a “no-brainer” because so many of those she knows are front-line workers, including her husband, a fire captain.
“I woke up and told my husband I wish it was just July 5,” she said.
Health experts agree this will be a pivotal moment in determining whether the nation slides into a deeper mess. The fear is that a weekend of crowded pool parties, picnics and parades will fuel the surge.
The warnings were sounded after a Memorial Day weekend that saw many people emerge from stay-at-home orders to go to the beach, restaurants and family gatherings.
Since then, confirmed infections per day in the U.S. have rocketed to an all-time high, more than doubling.
The U.S. set another record on Friday with 52,300 newly reported cases, according to the tally kept by Johns Hopkins University.