By Betsy Klein | CNN
President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump will travel to Mt. Rushmore National Memorial in Keystone, South Dakota, on Friday for an early Fourth of July fireworks celebration and flyover, the first of its kind in more than a decade. The event will gather “thousands” together during a global pandemic with no social distancing, comes amid a national conversation on monuments with racist histories and also highlights local environmental issues.
Trump has made significant efforts to downplay — or outright ignore — the pandemic in recent weeks, painting a rosy picture of the administration’s response and pushing reopenings despite the fact that 36 states are currently experiencing a rise in new cases.
The President faced sharp criticism for his large, in-person rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where multiple campaign staffers and Secret Service Agents tested positive for the virus. All of the campaign staffers who attended the rally are quarantining, as well as dozens of Secret Service agents.
South Dakota Republican Gov. Kristi Noem, who worked with the President and the Department of Interior to make the event happen, said Monday that social distancing will not be enforced at the “large event,” though masks will be provided.
“In South Dakota, we’ve told people to focus on personal responsibility. Every one of them has the opportunity to make a decision that they are comfortable with. So we will be having celebrations of American independence, we will have a large event July 3,” she said during an appearance on Fox News.
“We told those folks that have concerns that they can stay home, but those who want to come and join us, we’ll be giving out free face masks if they choose to wear one,” she said. “But we won’t be social distancing, we’re asking them to come, be ready to celebrate, to enjoy the freedoms and the liberties that we have in this country.”
According to Recreation.gov, there was an online lottery for tickets, and the park will be closed to general visitation during the event, opening to ticketed guests at 3:00 p.m. local time Friday.
There may be health screening for ticketed guests in one area, and the website warns: “This event will be attended by thousands. Participants will be in close contact for an extended amount of time, please plan accordingly.”
“There are no social distancing requirements in place at this time,” a recording on the park’s main telephone line said on Monday.
Noem spokesman Ian Fury told CNN that attendees will be encouraged to follow guidelines from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, even though they conflict with the governor’s claim they “won’t be social distancing.”
Asked to reconcile that discrepancy, Fury said: “We’re not anticipating that folks will be maintaining six feet of social distancing,” but reiterated that masks will be available to anyone who wants them, and noted the guidelines also encourage those who may have been exposed to stay home.
“We are encouraging attendees to follow CDC guidelines, extensive safety signage will be posted at the event, and masks will …read more
Source:: The Mercury News – Health