The United States is celebrating Independence Day amid an upsurge in coronavirus cases, and many events have been canceled.
Beaches have been closed in Florida and California, city parades have been canceled, and fireworks have been cut.
However, President Donald Trump said in a July 4 video message that “we are on the verge of an extraordinary victory” over “this terrible Chinese plague.”
Hundreds are expected to pack their bags to attend a White House party that Trump will host later despite fears of new infections.
The daily coronavirus infection count hit a new record in the United States on Friday – 52,300, said Johns Hopkins University.
The number is increasing in 39 states, and at least five – Alabama, Alaska, Kansas, North Carolina and South Carolina – recorded case files on Friday, reports the New York Times.
According to Johns Hopkins’ research, nearly 130,000 people have died of Covid-19 in the United States – by far the highest total – and the United States has 2.8 million confirmed cases.
How is July 4 marked in the United States?
In Washington, the White House invited hundreds of doctors to the July 4 party – doctors who treated Covid-19 patients – despite the local mayor’s safety concerns. The fight against the pandemic is a theme of what the White House calls its Independence Day “Hi to America”.
Thousands of people are expected to pack their bags on nearby streets to attend a military parade and fireworks.
The United States Department of the Interior plans to distribute 300,000 face masks to spectators who gather in the National Mall. They will also be asked to keep 6 feet (1.8 m) apart.
Joe Biden, Mr. Trump’s Democratic rival in this year’s presidential election, tweeted that “on July 4, one of the most patriotic things you can do is wear a mask.”
Fireworks are a traditional highlight of July 4, but about 80% of cities and towns have canceled their shows.
New York City usually has a one-hour extravaganza, but this year has been replaced by five-minute presentations throughout the week, hosted by Macy’s department store, with a TV finale on Saturday – all in undisclosed locations.
Major League Baseball has canceled its 2020 All-Star Game for the first time since World War II.
Defying health warnings, President Trump addressed a large crowd on Mount Rushmore in South Dakota on Friday, condemning the “angry crowds” who had knocked over statues during anti-racism protests.
The site, with its giant mountain sculptures of former American presidents, was chosen to reinforce its claim that American heritage is under attack.
Two of the presidents carved at Mount Rushmore – George Washington and Thomas Jefferson – owned slaves.
Trump, preparing for a tough re-election battle, accused the protesters of waging a “merciless campaign to erase our history, defame our heroes, erase our values and indoctrinate our children.”