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Celebrating The Fourth Of July In Kansas City During Coronavirus Pandemic Is 'Doable'— Here Are Some Tips To Stay Safe

Keith Srakocic

Health experts say people wanting to celebrate Independence Day should plan small gatherings outdoors to help avoid further spread of COVID-19.

As the Kansas City metro gears up to celebrate the Fourth of July weekend, local health experts are offering advice on how to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The biggest risk on July 4th is usually fireworks, but this year many are worried about the potential dangers of holding social gatherings and celebrations during the pandemic.

Comeback KC, a collaboration between local businesses and government leaders that aims to help the metro during the COVID-19 recovery, has released a set of guidelines for those still wanting to celebrate the Fourth with family and friends.

"Right now, there's no such thing as totally safe socializing, but we can practice safer socializing to make celebrating the 4th of July as safe as possible," said Dr. Allen Greiner, Chief Medical Officer with the Unified Government of Wyandotte County and an advisor to Comeback KC.

While the safest way to celebrate would be with only immediate family, Comeback KC says there are still some ways to reduce the risk of spreading the virus for those celebrating with others:

  • Stay home if you feel sick.
  • Avoid large crowds and stick with smaller gatherings
  • Celebrate outdoors
  • Bring your own food, drink, cups, and dining utensils.
  • Don’t share food or drinks.
  • Practice social distancing, with at least six feet of distance between people.
  • Wear a mask when you arrive and keep it on when you aren’t eating or drinking.
  • Bring your own hand sanitizer and use it before and after you eat.
  • Wash your hands when you get home.

Dr. Jennifer Bacani McKenney, a family physician in Fredonia, Kansas, says health professionals are especially concerned about the upcoming holiday as COVID-19 cases continue to climb across the metro and around the U.S.

“This is coming off of a time when everybody is sick of staying home and social distancing and wearing masks. So, we're kind of in this period of people not being quite as careful as they have been,” said McKenney.

The Kansas City, Missouri, Health Department announced last week they would begin requiring face masks be worn in most public places, in response to the uptick of cases. The department also cited concerns about the potential of an outbreak resulting from Fourth of July celebrations.

Wyandotte County and Jackson County have followed suit with their own mas mandates.

Tyler Nottberg, chairman at U.S. Engineering Co. and one of the leaders of Comeback KC, says Kansas City area residents need to play it safe this weekend.

“It’s important for everyone to follow these easy, practical guidelines so we can avoid large scale outbreaks and super-spreader events in our community,” said Nottberg.

McKenney says the most important precautions to take will be keeping gatherings small and staying outside. Even with these guidelines in place, she says there are still plenty of ways to safely celebrate the holiday.

“There's lots of options like backyard cookouts, going for walks or hikes and shooting fireworks, but you can do that while you're socially distancing and being very safe throughout it,” said McKenney.

Other tips that McKenney suggests include avoiding buffet or potluck-style dinners and making hand sanitizer or hand washing readily available for guests.

With no vaccine available in the near future, McKenney says it’s important to not stop celebrating holidays, but instead focus on finding new ways to celebrate.

“Overall, celebrating the Fourth of July holiday is definitely doable and we do encourage people to celebrate it, but just make good decisions when doing it,” said McKenney.

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