Thu | Aug 13, 2020

Much of US scales back on holiday, but Trump plans to go big

Published:Saturday | July 4, 2020 | 9:59 AM
President Donald Trump waves as he boards Air Force One, Friday, July 3, 2020, at Andrews Air Force Base, Maryland. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

WASHINGTON (AP) — As coronavirus cases spike, public health officials are pleading with Americans to avoid large crowds and hold more muted Independence Day celebrations, but subdued is not President Donald Trump’s style, and he aimed to go big, promising a “special evening” in Washington that could bring tens of thousands to the National Mall.

Trump’s “Salute for America” celebration on Saturday evening was to include a speech from the White House South Lawn that he said would celebrate American heritage, as well as a military flyover over the city and an enormous fireworks display that could pack people downtown.

The president kicked off the holiday weekend by travelling to Mount Rushmore in South Dakota for a fireworks display Friday night near the mountain carvings of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, and Theodore Roosevelt.

In his remarks, he accused protesters who have pushed for racial justice of engaging in a “merciless campaign to wipe out our history.”

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

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cautions that mass gatherings like the one scheduled for Washington present a high risk for the spread of the virus.

Trump’s surgeon general, Jerome Adams, who has stepped up his call for Americans to wear a mask in public, sidestepped when asked during an interview Friday whether he would caution a loved one from attending such large gatherings.

“It’s not a yes or no,” Adams told NBC’s “Today Show.” “Every single person has to make up their own mind.”

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