The White House is expressing growing certainty that July Fourth will serve as a breakthrough moment in the nation’s recovery, even though the U.S. is expected to fall short of its goal of having 70% of adults vaccinated by the holiday. Still, the pace of the nation’s healing will be a stark contrast with the rest of the world struggling to vanquish the virus.
The planned celebration will be the largest event of Biden’s presidency and is designed to demonstrate the nation’s victory over the virus as COVID-19 cases and deaths drop to levels not seen since the first days of the outbreak. The U.S. is seeing its highest rate of air travel since the pandemic began, and schools, businesses and restaurants are rapidly reopening.
To celebrate the resumption of pre-pandemic life, Biden is looking to celebrate the July Fourth holiday as “a summer of freedom.”
He plans to host first responders, essential workers and military service members and their families on the South Lawn of the White House for a cookout and to watch the fireworks over the National Mall. More than 1,000 guests are expected, officials said.
The plan shows the dramatic shift in thinking since Biden cautiously held out hope just three months ago that people might be able to hold small cookouts by the Fourth.
For most Americans, that reopening target was hit last month, by Memorial Day weekend, after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention relaxed mask-wearing guidance for fully vaccinated people and state and local virus restrictions also eased.
Now, officials say July Fourth will serve as an unofficial kickoff to a new phase in the U.S. pandemic response. The federal government is looking to turn the page on the domestic public health crisis and focus on an economic and civic revival at home and marshaling support for vaccinations around the globe.
The White House is hoping to see similar Independence Day activities across the country, a year after the virus forced a mass cancellation of festivities.
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