Celebrating 4th of July will look different this year

Local News

OSP cautions drivers to be safe while traveling and health officials ask community members to stay socially distant if visiting family and friends

(WKBN) – This holiday weekend will look a whole lot different thanks in part to the record surge in coronavirus cases.

Travel experts say we’re seeing some of the lowest gas prices we’ve seen for a summer.

OSP Sergeant Eric Brown says more people are hitting the roads locally and across the state. That means more troopers will also be out patrolling the roadway.

They’ve also seen an increase in excessive speeds.

“Just this morning, we had one of our airplanes up working for about 30 minutes over Interstate-80 in Austintown, and within three troopers working that zone in about a 30-minute period, we issued 10 citations anywhere from 85 to 95 miles per hour. So we are seeing an increase in excessive speed, and I want to remind people to slow down and be careful,” said Sgt. Brown.

Sgt. Brown also reminds drivers not to drive distracted or impaired and to please wear your seatbelt.

And while you may not be able to attend the usual festivities or gather with friends and neighbors to watch fireworks this year because of the coronavirus, some of the people who talked with First News are still finding safe ways to celebrate.

Due to COVID-19, many local parades, festivals and fireworks displays have been canceled.

Large gathers for cookouts and parties are still discouraged.

Many people say the Fourth of July is a time to gather with family, and they won’t let this pandemic stop that tradition.

“It’s just hard, you know, because getting together with family is really important and so much has change this year,” said Renee Safe of Boardman.

Health officials are pleading with residents not to make a bad situation worse. The CDC is urging people to take necessary safety precautions this Independence Day.

If you’re planning to have some king of get-together this weekend, the CDC recommends staying outside if possible.

They also encourage you to wear face masks, social distance and use hand sanitizer regularly.

Each year, the Fourth of July also brings up concerns about firework injuries, heat-related illnesses and drownings.

But this year, fears of COVID-19 are added to the mix.

Nationwide, large gatherings over Memorial Day led to a surge of COVID-19 cases about 14 days later.

Now, going into this holiday weekend, public health officials fear a worse surge of the pandemic.

Dr. Kravec, a Mahoning County medical director, says there are options to celebrate safely, and this new phase that we’re in is all about learning to live with the virus.

“I think it’s important for people to enjoy the holiday, enjoy the Fourth but realize that coronavirus is still in our community. We still have hospitalizations. So as we are gather together when you’re inside or outside and very close, it’s still very important to mask. Still very important to have hand hygiene, us hand sanitizer if you’re sick at all, have a cough or fever, stay home,” Dr. Kravec said.

He urges everyone to remember that the pandemic isn’t over, and there’s still the risk of exposure and spread, but you can protect yourself.

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