Americans celebrated the Fourth of July this past weekend after the coronavirus pandemic forced the cancellation of most events last year, raising hopes that life is on the road to a semblance of normalcy as cases and deaths from Covid-19 near record lows.
The White House has encouraged people to come together and watch fireworks displays to mark the country’s “independence” from the virus. Businesses and restaurants are reopening across the country as restrictions are being relaxed and air travel briefly returned to 2019 levels at the start of the holiday weekend.
President Joe Biden is even due to host an Independence Day party on Sunday with 1,000 essential workers and military families on the South Lawn of the White House, marking the first large-scale event since he took office in January.
Though the country has made significant progress against the pandemic due to the vaccination rollout, the Fourth of July weekend also comes as US health officials monitor the spread of the Covid delta variant, which is believed to be more transmissible than other strains earlier in the pandemic.
Coronavirus cases are much lower than the peak in January, when the country saw more than 300,000 new cases on a single day, according to Johns Hopkins University data.
Still, cases have been trending upward in the recent days and some health officials warn that the US shouldn’t declare victory over the pandemic just yet.