U.S. Independence Day
U.S. Independence Day

by Julia Pierrepont III

On July 4 last year, colorful fireworks sparkled over Santa Monica Beach, Los Angeles County, and along California’s coastline, while this year the sun is shining down on empty strips of silver sand that stretch for miles with not a single soul in sight.

Fourth of July, the U.S. Independence Day, is a day of national celebration with picnics on the beach, parades on the street, and firework shows across the country. But this year, instead of a day of joyful festivities, America finds itself beset by the COVID-19 pandemic, economic losses and waves of civil unrest over racism and police brutality.

“This Fourth of July, we are celebrating differently,” Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti tweeted on Saturday.

“This Independence Day is unlike any other. Normally we’d be gathered with family and friends for a cookout, or maybe we’d make our way to Dodger Stadium or the Hollywood Bowl for a wonderful fireworks spectacular. But now we’re all making sacrifices to stop the spread of COVID-19 and save lives,” he said in a video speech.

Instead of rocking block parties, live concerts, and big public celebrations, many events have been cancelled or moved online, such as Burbank’s Starlight Bowl, the 27th annual Fourth of July Run, Walk and Kids’ Dash, Grand Park + the Music Center’s Fourth of July Block Party: Home Edition and the 94th annual AmericaFest celebration.

“So make this Fourth of July count by staying safe, and staying healthy, and staying at home,” Garcetti said.

He noted that “avoiding gatherings, wearing a face covering, physically distancing, washing hands, and getting tested” are “acts of love that will protect ourselves, our family and our fellow Americans.”

As coronavirus cases continue to rise in the country, Southern California officials have slowed the roll for the state’s reopening by closing beaches, restricting restaurant services, banning firework displays, and warning that anyone without a mask in public will be fined.

Cities in Southern California, such as Santa Monica, Beverly Hills, and West Hollywood, have announced enforcement measures to fine people who don’t wear face coverings in public. For example, Santa Monica set fines at 100 U.S. dollars for a first violation, 250 dollars for a second violation and 500 dollars for a third.

Dr. Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo, chair of the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the University of California, San Francisco, told the Los Angeles Times earlier, “All of the data tells us … it’s pretty clear that masking is the element that changes the trajectories of the COVID-19 pandemic. Literally, the only way we open up — which all of us want to do — is put on a mask.”

California Governor Gavin Newsom has warned local officials that their state funding might be withheld if they don’t abide by his restrictions on beaches, bars and other high-risk businesses.

“This Fourth of July is bittersweet for us,” Kourtney Ketterman, a businesswoman who has scaled back her party plans, told Xinhua. Enditem
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