Here’s what you need to know about celebrating the Fourth of July this year

Published: Jul. 1, 2020 at 6:42 PM AKDT
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While the Fourth of July is normally a time of national celebration, concerns about the rising spread of COVID-19 have canceled nearly all of the annual holiday events. Social gatherings have largely contributed to higher case counts, and public health officials are urging residents to stay socially distant.

“We recognize gatherings are going to happen but want to empower residents to reduce their chance of becoming infected with COVID-19 by considering risk,” said Anchorage Health Department Director Natasha Pineda. “Remember to avoid the three Cs: closed spaces with poor ventilation, crowded places that limit physical distancing, and close contact like prolonged face-to-face conversations.”

In a press conference Tuesday, Gov. Mike Dunleavy said the idea behind wearing a mask is ‘almost elementary.’ He continued to urge Alaskans to put distance between themselves and others.

“I’m just asking — especially with this weekend coming up — that we show not just ourselves, but again, we show this country that we can think of others, as we’re thinking of ourselves,” Dunleavy said.

Bill Falsey, the incident commander in Anchorage, said it’s best for people to forgo hosting a gathering, but for any gathering that does occur, he recommends people follow these tips:

  • Avoid inside gatherings
  • Avoid prolonged contact with others to reduce spread
  • Wear a face covering
  • Provide hand sanitizer or places to wash hands
  • Provide cleaning supplies and disinfecting wipes
  • Stay 6 feet away from others and gather only in spaces that can accommodate distance
  • Serve pre-packaged meals or serve food to guests
  • Don’t carpool
  • Guests should bring their own silverware, dishes and sanitizer

“We need Anchorage residents to do their part to reduce the spread of COVID-19 by either not hosting a gathering or by hosting a gathering responsibly,” Falsey said. “We are at a turning

point and we urge all residents to do the right thing.”

The City and Borough of Juneau has canceled its city celebrations of the Fourth of July but said personal fireworks will still be allowed July 3-4. Juneau officials are still advising residents to stay within their household bubble for celebrations in order to prevent a large community spread of COVID-19.

CBJ said people should favor air hugs and waves to actions that require close contact. People who are considered high risk for the virus should be especially careful when they consider attending Fourth of July gatherings.

People with pets should also be cognizant that fireworks and other loud celebrations can be frightening to animals. While Anchorage’s Delaney Park Strip celebration is canceled and fireworks are prohibited in the municipality, Anchorage Animal Care and Control recommends pet owners stay at home with their pet to avoid any possible issues.

If fireworks are audible, pet owners should close all windows and doors and turn on a radio or TV to mask the sound of noise, AACC said. If a pet does escape, AACC said people are able to come to the facility at 11 a.m. July 5 to identify or search for a missing pet.

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