State Watch

South Dakota will not enforce social distancing at Mount Rushmore Fourth of July event

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South Dakota will not enforce social distancing at its planned Mount Rushmore Fourth of July that President Trump is set to attend, the governor announced Thursday.

Gov. Kristi Noem (R) said at a press conference that the state is not planning on adjusting the event scheduled for July 3 due to the coronavirus pandemic, saying it has a prepared plan for any potential outbreak.

“We haven’t even come close to reaching the capacity of the amount of people that we can take care of,” she said. “So it’s been encouraging to see infection rates decline.”

Organizers did not lower the number of tickets available because of the coronavirus. The governor said she isn’t worried about tourists increasing the risk of a new outbreak. 

State Secretary of Tourism Jim Hagen said during the press conference that South Dakota is planning for a crowd of about 7,500 people.

Tickets will be distributed through a lottery system to watch the fireworks, which will be set off at the memorial for the first time in a decade. 

“We’re doing everything we can to work diligently to make this a safe and fun event for all attendees,” Hagen said. 

Separate from the pandemic, organizers had already decided fewer tickets would be available than in past years to help regulate the crowd. 

State officials have spent more than a year and a half planning the event in partnership with the federal government. The Department of the Interior approved the fireworks display in April, and President Trump announced in May that he would attend. 

“There will be no better place to celebrate our independence,” Noem said during the press conference. “We are excited that President Trump will be joining us for this event.”

South Dakota has confirmed 5,247 COVID-19 cases, with 1,020 considered active cases. The state has seen 464 hospitalizations and 64 deaths from COVID-19, according to its health department.

The New York Times has categorized South Dakota as a state where coronavirus cases have largely plateaued, instead of increasing or decreasing.

Tags Coronavirus COVID-19 Donald Trump Fireworks Fourth of July Independence Day July 4 Kristi Noem Social distancing South Dakota

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