Donald Trump is hosting the largest Fourth of July firework display “in recent memory” this weekend – despite a record rise in US coronavirus cases.
Washington DC Mayor Muriel Bowser does not have the power to shut down the event because it is being held on White House grounds.
But he claims the annual event is not in keeping with current state COVID-19 guidelines.
Special thank you to the @UnitedWarVets, @GrucciFireworks, @Scotts_MGro, and @FedEx — for their support of what will, without question, be a special evening! #Salute2Americahttps://t.co/QmI58d1gcD
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 1, 2020
White House officials will hand out 300,000 facemasks for anyone who wants to attend the event – but no one will be required to wear them by law, according to White House spokeswoman Kayleigh McEnany.
She said that while face coverings are “likely” to reduce the spread of coronavirus, they are “not mandatory in themselves”.
Interior Secretary David Bernhardt promised a “one-of-a-kind air show”, featuring a mile-long firing of 100,000 fireworks – the largest display in “recent memory”, he said.
The news of this weekend’s event on the National Mall comes after the US reported its biggest single-day increase in new virus cases – 50,700.
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The alarming spike in cases saw California governor Gavin Newsom shut down bars, cinemas and indoor restaurant dining across most of the state just ahead of the Independence Day weekend.
Florida, Arizona and Texas are also being hit hard with the threat of another lockdown looming.
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But Mr Trump continues to suggest the US is on top of the pandemic.
He told Fox News: “I think we are going to be very good with the coronavirus. I think that, at some point, that’s going to sort of just disappear, I hope.”
Mr Trump and first lady Melania are hosting the military display over the White House south lawn on Saturday, the day after they attend a separate firework display and public gathering in Mount Rushmore, South Dakota.