The 4th of July is one of my favorite holidays. Big parties, lots of BBQ'd meat products, fireworks, street dances, parades and buckets of beer are usually part of my freedom celebration. Another thing that edges the 4th to the top of my favorite holiday list, is that you don't have to buy a single present. Nope, I get to buy all the fun stuff for myself.

Obviously, the 4th of July is going to be different this year, thanks to COVID-19. The big parade and party at Thompson Park in Laurel is canceled. Residents are encouraged to watch the display from home (to be launched from a secret location). Side note: the gal at the Laurel gas station I was chatting with this morning whispered to me that only THREE Laurel firefighters know the launch spot, lol. In Billings, a fireworks display will be launched from the upper parking lot of MetraPark, instead of the usual Heights location.

The number of people testing positive for COVID-19 continues to climb. In recent weeks, Montana has had some of it's highest numbers since the pandemic began. In a 6/30 press release, Riverstone Health confirmed that Yellowstone County had 174 confirmed cases with 23 new cases reported since Sunday morning (6/29). Case investigations by Riverstone Health public health nurses reveal that the growth in the virus has been largely driven by group gatherings among friends and family. Yellowstone County Health Officer John Felton said,

This Independence Day weekend, we must be especially vigilant to prevent happy holiday celebrations from turning into tragedies.

Felton added that everyone should follow the three W's:

  • Wear a mask when you are with people who don't live in your household.
  • Wash your hands or use hand sanitizer frequently.
  • Watch your physical distance, staying at least six feet apart from others whenever possible.

Have a safe - socially distanced - 4th of July weekend!