With Pandemic Receding, Americans Return to July 4 Rituals

The spread of the Delta variant remains worrisome for the unvaccinated, and there are 1,000 counties in the country where fewer than 30 percent of residents are inoculated, said Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The White House plans to host 1,000 essential workers and military families on the South Lawn on Sunday, the largest gathering of President Biden’s tenure. The celebratory display is meant to signal that the president has delivered on his promise that Americans would return to some semblance of normal life by the holiday.

“This weekend, millions of Americans will be able to get together — back together, not just with their families and close friends for small backyard cookouts, but with their community for larger festivals, parades and fireworks, celebrating our country’s July 4th Independence Day and the progress we have made against the virus together,” the White House coronavirus coordinator, Jeff Zients, said on Thursday.

While the country has fallen short of Mr. Biden’s goal of getting shots to at least 70 percent of adults by July 4, the White House has put a positive spin on the numbers. Mr. Zients noted last week that 70 percent of Americans age 30 and up have received at least one shot.

Public health officials have been struggling to motivate the vaccine holdouts. A few airlines and airports are taking up the charge, trying to entice people to get the shots with sweepstakes. (The Transportation Safety Administration still requires masks in airports, on airplanes and on trains.)

While Americans are traveling again, many local officials are taking a cautious approach. Though New York City plans to revive its huge Macy’s fireworks show, some large celebrations, parades and fireworks extravaganzas have been pared back or canceled.

A few places, like Glencoe, Ill., have postponed their fireworks shows until Labor Day, though neighbors and community groups will be allowed to parade through the village’s downtown once again.


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