Trumps to travel to South Dakota for July 4th despite rise in US coronavirus cases
‘We won’t be social distancing,’ says state governor of celebration at Mount Rushmore
A volunteer giving directions at a walk-in Covid-19 test site in Los Angeles, California. Photograph: Getty Images
US president Donald Trump plans to travel to South Dakota as planned on Friday for an Independence Day celebration despite an alarming rise in coronavirus cases across the country.
Mr Trump and his wife Melania will attend a fireworks display at Mount Rushmore on the eve of the July 4th celebration.
“We won’t be social distancing,” said South Dakota’s Republican governor Kristi Noem in an interview with Fox News ahead of the visit.
“We’ve told people to focus on personal responsibility. Every one of them has the opportunity to make a decision that they’re comfortable with. So, we will be having celebrations of American independence,” she said, adding that free masks would be distributed to people “if they choose to wear one”.
“We’re asking them to come, to be ready to celebrate, to enjoy the freedoms and the liberties that we have in this country.”
Mr Trump’s visit is to take place as planned as the US continues to see a rise in recorded coronavirus cases across the country. An increase in infections has been posted by 37 states over the past week, with states in the west and south most affected.
More than 48,000 new cases were reported on Tuesday alone, with top immunologist Anthony Fauci warning that daily cases could hit 100,000 if trends continue.
Vice-president Mike Pence travelled to Arizona on Wednesday – one of the worst hit areas of the country – to meet with governor Doug Ducey. Arizona reported 4,878 new cases on Wednesday and 88 deaths – a daily record for the state of seven million people. In total it has recorded 1,720 fatalities. It has also seen a sharp rise in the number of Covid-19 tests coming back positive.
Mr Ducey was one of the first governors to reopen the economy, and Arizona has seen a sharp rise in cases throughout June.
Florida also reported another daily rise in infections. The state announced 6,563 new cases on Wednesday – a jump of 500 on the previous day. Though the state’s governor Ron de Santis has said that the state is “not going back” in terms of reopening, individual counties have announced restrictions, including closing some beaches ahead of the holiday weekend.
Miami’s largest public hospital announced it would stop elective surgeries to deal with coronavirus cases as the infection rate surges in Miami-Dade county.
Jacksonville, Florida, where the Republican Party is to hold its convention in August, has mandated the wearing of face masks. Mr de Santis, a close ally of Mr Trump, was one of the first governors to lift restrictions at the end of May.
New York became the latest part of the country on Wednesday to pause its reopening plans. Mayor Bill de Blasio said the city would not allow indoor dining in New York’s restaurants as planned this week, citing evidence that indoor gatherings in bars and restaurants in other parts of the country had contributed to a rise in cases.
“Indoors is the problem more and more,” he said. “The news we have gotten from around the country gets worse and worse.”
While New York was one of the hardest hit areas of the country at the outbreak of the crisis, it has since seen a sharp fall-off in infections and deaths. The move to postpone indoor dining in restaurants follows a similar decision in neighbouring New Jersey on Tuesday.
In Seattle, Washington State, police cleared the so-called self-governed zone that was established in the city three weeks ago during the George Floyd protests. Police chief Carmen Best said “anyone who remains in the area, or returns to the area, is subject to arrest”. It follows a number of shootings in the area that became known as the “Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone”.