Most Americans' Fourth of July celebrations won't include a community fireworks display, a trip to a crowded beach or even a big backyard barbecue this year — or at least that's what many health officials are hoping.
It's a starkly different situation from the nation's last major holiday. Over Memorial Day, the United States was emerging from a months-long lockdown with states rapidly rolling back business closures and social distancing regulations. Coronavirus case counts showed promising trends and calls to reopen the economy had grown fierce.
It's a different story heading into the Fourth of July.
A national spike in COVID-19 cases in the weeks following Memorial Day has led nearly half of U.S. states to take new steps to limit the spread of the virus, with many making special rules to combat crowds over the holiday weekend. That comes as the infection curve is rising in about 40 states.
As cases surge in Florida, California and Texas, some beaches are closing in an effort to discourage large crowds over the holiday. But backyard gatherings — an iconic staple of the Fourth of July holiday — are perhaps even more concerning to public health officials.
Earlier this week, California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced plans to “tighten things up" when it comes to the state's stay-at-home over the holiday. Newsom said he was particularly concerned with family gatherings, where people “begin to mix and take down their guard.”
Here are some recent developments:With professional fireworks displays canceled, authorities are bracing for wildfires and injuries caused by Americans shooting off fireworks at home. In contrast to some coastal states' efforts to close their shores over the weekend, many will flock to the Jersey Shore. Boardwalks, outdoor dining, fireworks displays, water parks, amusement rides and casinos will also be open at some capacity this weekend.The hit musical Hamilton is now streaming on Disney+, giving fans a social-distance-friendly Fourth of July activity.
📈Today's stats: The U.S. recorded 52,291 new cases of the coronavirus Thursday, surpassing Wednesday's record of 50,655, according to a tally kept by Johns Hopkins University. The U.S. has seen more than 2.7 million cases and more than 129,000 deaths. Globally, there have been more than 10.9 million cases and over 523,000 deaths.
📰 What we're reading: What's going on with all those backyard fireworks? Complaints are soaring in cities across the nation.
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What stores and restaurants are open Fourth of July?
Costco is the largest retailer staying closed on Independence Day, which it traditionally does for other holidays too, including New Year's Day, Easter, Memorial Day and Labor Day.
This year, Trader Joe's is closed, a change from past years when it operated with reduced hours, "to give all of our Crew Members a much needed and well-deserved day of rest," the grocer said on its website.
Read the full list of retailers, grocery stores and restaurants.
— Kelly Tyko
As MLB spring training resumes, 31 players test positive for COVID-19
Major League Baseball, resuming spring training Friday, announced that 31 players and seven staff members tested positive for COVID-19 as part of intake screening. The 38 positives were 1.2% of the 3,185 total samples collected and tested, according to the league.
Teams are not permitted to identify the players who tested positive for COVID-19, but two players, Delino DeShields Jr. of the Cleveland Indians and Brett Martin of the Texas Rangers each revealed their positive tests. Any player who tests positive for COVID-19 must test negative twice at least 24 hours apart from one another, with no fever for 72 hours, before he can rejoin a team.
— Bob Nightengale
What we're readingCan stores and restaurants require masks? Yes.Kissing lipstick goodbye: Are facemasks wiping away the simple joy of cosmetics?'This is no joke': Man died of coronavirus day after saying he regretted attending a party'I'm a scientist, not a politician': Senators grill federal health officials on Operation Warp Speed'A mask is not a symbol': Three restaurants take a stand amid coronavirus pandemic
New study claims hydroxychloroquine may boost survivors; other researchers doubtful
Although the U.S. Food and Drug Administration withdrew its emergency use authorization for hydroxychloroquine for trials as a treatment for COVID-19, the controversial anti-malarial drug once touted by President Donald Trump is not leaving the stage quietly.
A team at Henry Ford Health System in Southeast Michigan said Thursday its study of 2,541 hospitalized patients found that patients who took the drug were much less likely to die. A report on the findings was published in the International Journal of Infectious Diseases.
The drug got widespread attention after Trump said he had taken it. But after the FDA action, trials sponsored by the World Health Organization and the National Institutes of Health were halted.
Dr. Steven Kalkanis, CEO of the Henry Ford Medical Group, acknowledged to reporters that the group's results differed from other studies but said it "potentially could be a lifesaver for patients" if used before they begin to suffer some of the severe immune reactions associated with COVID-19.
Researchers not involved with the study noted that the team did not randomly treat patients but selected them for various treatments based on certain criteria, according to CNN.
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Where are states on reopening? Some are taking preemptive measures to postpone further phases of their reopening, while others have rolled back their phases to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. See the list.
Contributing: The Associated Press