Trump hosts July 4 event in Washington despite officials’ calls to limit rallies

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Officials across the United States have pleaded with Americans to curb their enthusiasm for the large crowds on July 4 on Saturday, even as US President Donald Trump drew the masses with a “special evening” of tribute and fire fireworks organized with new American coronavirus infections on the rise.

People wandered the National Mall in the scorching heat and put themselves in the shade under the scattered trees while, nearby, the music emanated from a party on the south lawn of the White House. Coming soon: the celebration of “Salvation for America” ​​with Trump’s speech on the White House grounds, a military air show and more ambitious fireworks than we’ve seen in years.

The crowds on the Mall were surprisingly thinner than those gathered for last year’s blocked celebration on the National Mall. Many of those who showed up wore masks.

But not Pat Lee from Upper Dublin, Pennsylvania, or the two friends she came with, a nurse from Fredericksburg, Virginia, whose only helmet was a MAGA hat.

“POTUS said it would go away,” Lee said of the pandemic, using an acronym for president of the United States. “The masks, I think, are like a hoax.” But she said she was wearing one inside the Trump International hotel, where she stayed.

People are seen on the National Mall as Trump speaks during an event on the south lawn of the White House on Saturday. (Tasos Katopodis / Getty Images)

Through the Second World War Memorial, the National Park Service distributed packages of five white cloth masks to anyone who wanted them. People were not required to wear them.

Another nurse, Zippy Watt of Riverside, California, came to watch the air show and the fireworks with her husband and two daughters, one of whom lived in Washington. They wore masks matching the American flag even when they were sitting together on a park bench.

“We chose to wear a mask to protect ourselves and others,” said Watt. She said her family was divided on Trump, but she is “no longer a supporter of Trump. Being from South Cali, I see socialist tendencies. I am tired of paying taxes so that others can stay at home. House”.

At the White House, several hundred guests gathered on the vast south lawn, gathering around tables decorated with flowers and small American flags while a military rock group played. Most of the guests were exposed.

Trump’s guests were doctors, nurses, law enforcement and military personnel as well as administration officials, said Judd Deere, assistant White House press secretary. He said the event was a tribute to the “tremendous courage and spirit” of frontline workers and the public in the pandemic.

Trump and his wife Melania Trump are seen on the south lawn of the White House on Saturday. (Patrick Semansky / The Associated Press)

Authorities in many parts of the country have discouraged mass holiday gatherings after days that have seen COVID-19 cases escalate at an unprecedented rate even during the deadliest phase of the pandemic in the spring.

Yet Trump continued to draw large crowds when it came to his events.

It opened on vacation weekends on the way to Mount Rushmore in South Dakota for a firework display Friday evening near the mountain sculptures of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt. Clearly, he accused protesters who pressed for racial justice to engage in a “merciless campaign to erase our history”.

Even as he continued his celebrations, the shadow of the coronavirus approached him. Kimberly Guilfoyle, one of the main fundraisers for the president and girlfriend of her eldest child, Donald Trump Jr., has tested positive for the virus, Trump’s campaign said Friday night. Guilfoyle tweeted Saturday that she was looking forward to “a speedy recovery”.

In a presidential message on Saturday, on the 244th anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence, Trump acknowledged that “in recent months, the American spirit has undoubtedly been tested by many challenges “.

Democratic rival Joe Biden said in a statement that the United States “never respected” its founding principle that “all men are created equal”, but today “we have a chance to wrest the roots of systemic racism in this country. ” “

Trump plans to use the speech to salute the U.S. military and pay tribute to U.S. values, heroes, and achievements, according to a Trump aide who was not allowed to comment by name. The aide added that Trump sought to use the speech to oppose his point of view to Biden’s remarks suggesting that America has not always lived up to its ideals.

Trump’s approval of the big rallies at the National Mall and Mount Rushmore came when many communities decided to suppress fireworks, parades and other holiday traditions in the hopes of avoiding even more outbreaks. ‘infection.

Confirmed cases are climbing in 40 states, and the United States set a new high on Friday with 52,300 new infections reported, according to count by Johns Hopkins University.

WATCH | Independence Day celebrations are of concern to the United States, where cases are on the increase:

As new daily cases in the United States hit a record high, fears abound that July 4 celebrations will lead to an explosion of COVID-19 cases as people mock masks and distance themselves physically. 2:01

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns that mass gatherings like the one planned in Washington pose a high risk of spreading the virus. Yet surgeon general Jerome Adams avoided being asked if he would warn a loved one not to attend a large gathering. He said that people should wear masks and decide otherwise.

Trump has been anxious to see the nation return to normal and has been willing to push the envelope further than many states and mayors of big cities are willing to go.

District of Columbia mayor Muriel Bowser said she was not allowed to close the holiday show because it is on federal territory. But she warned the federal government of the dangers of such a crowd and said to her constituents, “Just because someone invites you to a party doesn’t mean you have to go.”

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