Sorry, folks, but the show mustn’t go on. Park City has scrapped its annual July Fourth parade as part of the effort to encourage social distancing. Clearly throngs of people standing shoulder to shoulder and peering over one another for a glimpse of passing floats isn’t in keeping with responsible guidelines to prevent the spread of coronavirus. Accordingly, crowded Independence Day activities and gatherings that typically take place in City Park have been canceled, but the evening sky will still likely be lit up with a fireworks show even if City officials prefer you watch them from your own homes.
The cancellation of July 4 celebrations is notable as it’s one of the busiest days of the year in Park City, which relies heavily on tourism dollars generated during popular events. Officials were holding out hope for a semblance of normalcy to the festivities, but reversed course as it became clear that wouldn’t be feasible. July 4 in Park City won’t be advertised in the Salt Lake Valley with City Hall’s report encourages a “locals’ 4th approach to enjoying your neighborhood with friends and family.” Still, don’t expect Main Street to be empty next Saturday as City Hall hopes to pedestrianize town on the Fourth as they have doing each Sunday.
The canceled celebrations add to a laundry list of nixed summer activities in Park City which also includes the Tour of Utah, the Kimball Arts Festival and the Park Silly Sunday Market. The dearth of events bringing people to Main Street is increasing anxiety about diminished shopping and dining sales in town. The uncertain timeline for reopening and the lack of confidence regarding the upcoming winter season are making it difficult for many businesses to survive.
The decision to cancel much of the Fourth in town comes as Summit County Health Director Rich Bullough issued a sobering warning about the spread of COVID-19 the Summit County. While the surge in infections in Summit County is not has high as in the rest of the state, the numbers are trending in the wrong direction. Three of the county’s four ICU beds were in occupied this week, and available beds in Salt Lake City used when Summit County exceeds supply are also filling up.
Of note, the current surge in Utah appears to have begun accelerating on May 27, about two weeks after the majority of the state moved to the yellow, low-risk phase. In her memo, State Epidemiologist Angela Dunn stated the average contacts per case in Utah has jumped from five to 20 since the shift, highlighting how vigilance fatigue and a shift in public perceptions have altered behavior. It’s a clear indicator we aren’t out of the woods yet and social distancing will be an important norm for some time to come. Cases have spiked high enough that travelers from Utah arriving in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut must quarantine for 14 days. Utah is among the nine states subject to these new rules, which marks a stark reversal from just weeks ago when the tri-state area was the nation’s coronavirus epicenter.
We’re all tired of this pandemic, but coronavirus is heating up in Summit County. Park City officials should be commended for making tough decisions, especially since they’re certain to spur criticism from some.
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