The much anticipated July 4th weekend is here—a holiday typically celebrated with big backyard barbecues, massive fireworks displays, and gatherings with family and friends. But with many parts of the country dealing with dramatic spikes in coronavirus cases and concerns that the country’s last holiday weekend, Memorial Day, triggered this worrisome trajectory, this Fourth of July will likely look a bit different than what we’re used to. While some states and cities are actively attempting to mitigate the potential for further spread by closing (or reclosing) businesses, people in other areas are left navigating this summer holiday weekend themselves. So, what’s the worst place to go this July 4th? According to Thomas Russo, MD, chief of the division of infectious disease at the University at Buffalo, it’s any indoor environment where people are congregating without masks, such as bars and restaurants.
Russo says that a gathering like this is the “worst-case scenario,” especially if there is alcohol involved, as it diminishes people’s resolve to maintain distance and practice other protective behaviors.
“If you’re going to have a party and some of the guests that you invite are going to be anti-maskers, that presents a problem,” he says of indoor gatherings. “Willingness to wear masks is quite variable. There’s a better mask culture that’s ongoing in [certain] parts of the world.”
The reality is, there is likely some amount of inherent risk involved if you’re going to leave your house at all this holiday weekend or invite people over. But some choices come with risks that are much greater than others.
Hosting or attending outdoor events is preferable, but you should not enter into such scenarios with the illusion of full protection from the coronavirus. “Outdoors is safer, but you’re not going to be bulletproof if you’re not following the rules,” Russo says, especially “if you’re in close quarters without distancing and masks for a prolonged period of time.”
According to Russo, yes, “bad behavior outdoors is safer than bad behavior indoors, but you can still get easily infected outdoors.”
So to recap, here’s where you want to be this holiday weekend: outdoors, drinking in moderation, with adequate distance from others and with everyone wearing masks. If your July 4th plans don’t meet those standards, you may need to make alternate ones to stay safe.
For more on staying safe this summer, This Is the Worst Thing You Can Do July 4th Weekend, Official Warns.