DMV-area lawmakers requested Tuesday that Trump administration officials suspend plans for a 4th of July celebration in the nation’s capital, citing risks of overcrowding and infection.
In the letter to Secretary of Defense Mark Esper and Secretary of Interior David Bernhardt, Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C., along with two senators and seven congressional representatives from Maryland and Virginia said plans to host the Trump administration’s “Salute to America” ceremony would intensify the spread of COVID-19. Last year’s event featured jet flyovers and military tanks among a herd of spectators who packed into the National Mall – an occasion the signers deem dangerous this year as the District begins loosening some restrictions.
The letter states that the ceremony would have “detrimental impacts” on both the locals and nationwide tourists who flock to the nation’s capital for 4th of July festivities, and the District is suffering “some of the worst” effects of the pandemic. D.C. has one of the highest rates of positive tests in the country, currently sitting at about 23 percent.
“Given the number of individuals that would try to attend such an event, logistically such an event would be impossible to put on safely,” the letter states.
The celebration would pose risks to both public health safety and the country’s recovering economy, according to the letter. The spring has seen more than 100,000 unemployment insurance claims from workers in the DMV who have been laid off after business shuttered under financial struggles caused by the District’s three-month stay-at-home order.
“Given the current COVID-19 crisis, we believe such an event would needlessly risk the health and safety of thousands of Americans,” the letter states. “Further, this event would come at the cost of millions of taxpayer dollars while we are facing an unprecedented economic downturn due to the pandemic.”
The letter comes as city officials try to restrain the public from overstepping D.C. reopening plan guidelines, which end the District’s stay-at-home order but maintain certain restrictions.
Last year’s celebration cost D.C. about $1.7 million, draining most of the District’s funds earmarked for public safety spending. Members of the Foggy Bottom and West End Advisory Neighborhood Commission sent a resolution to Bernhardt last year, voicing concerns regarding “a lack of communication” and threats to safety and security that the event could cause.
“With the catastrophic hit that our economy has taken due to the COVID-19 crisis, it is not only financially wasteful to plan a second ‘Salute to America’ event but has the potential to again inappropriately pull funds from necessary accounts already under economic strain,” the letter states.