The Fourth of July seemed to approach quickly this year, as March morphed into July with one fell swoop. While the holiday is typically a time for celebrating our nation, our families, our friends and the start of summer fun, this year feels a bit different. The Coronavirus is surging through the United States, spiking in places like Florida, Texas, Arizona, and California. Some states with high COVID-19 numbers have shut down parks, beaches, bars, and other places that are generally prime venues for July 4th activities. So, where does that leave us?

“Usually my family has a decent little show of fireworks from our driveway, and sometimes people that drive by will watch,” senior Laurel Welch said. “In the past, our celebrations have only included my immediate family, so the pandemic and social distancing regulations didn’t really have an effect on us.”

While some Americans are keeping their observances to a small number of people to follow social distancing guidelines, some are choosing to disregard the CDC recommendations and are having large gatherings. As COVID-19 rages through the country, experts are begging people to take caution, as typical Independence Day gatherings could quickly undo any progress we’ve made towards reopening the country, while endangering lives and overwhelming the health system. In one of the United States’ worst hot spots, Floridians are flocking to their state’s beaches to celebrate, while 11,458 new cases were reported in Florida by the early afternoon on Saturday, setting a record for most new cases in one day. On the other side of the country, Arizona is also battling another huge spike in cases, as well as scattered messaging from their state government. The Arizona Department of Health Services dashboard showed 85% of current inpatient beds and 90% of ICU beds being in use as of the holiday.

 “This Fourth of July, one of the most patriotic things you can do is wear a mask,” former Vice President Joe Biden said in a Twitter post.

On the other hand, some students are choosing not to celebrate the holiday at all, in light of the difficulties that this country faces. Many have shared their feelings on social media, asking others about what exactly is being celebrated this year, one which has been filled with a grim pandemic, along with political, economic, global, and social unrest. This year, more and more Americans ask themselves if a holiday commemorating freedom is truly worth celebrating.

“When you look at the history of July 4, we weren’t necessarily free, so how can we celebrate our independence?” Scotty Smart, the founder of a nonprofit group called the Smart Foundation, said, speaking of his fellow African-Americans. 

If we’re searching for hope to hang our hats on, that’s a tough ask, no matter what the calendar reveals while we tear July 3 off the pad.

By: Allison Caskey, Feature Writer

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