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Don’t Let Virus Stop Fireworks

Say it ain’t so, Wellsburg officials.

During last week’s meeting of Wellsburg City Council, Mayor Sue Simonetti reported she had been contacted by members of the volunteer committee in charge of plans for an Independence Day celebration in the town. They want council’s opinion on whether July 4 activities — including the traditional fireworks show — should be canceled.

Opinions were mixed. Some officials suggested the show should go on, with Wellsburg residents invited to watch from their homes. Others worried about a crowd gathering in the city park to watch the pyrotechnics.

“You’re going to have a conglomeration of people, no matter what you do,” warned one councilman.

Groups of people shoulder to shoulder watching fireworks or anything else seem like a bad idea, in view of the COVID-19 epidemic. Social distancing and limits on the sizes of gatherings have become the order of the day.

But no fireworks? On the Fourth of July?

Wellsburg officials are not alone in wondering what to do about Independence Day. Many communities in the Ohio Valley stage big public events, anchored by fireworks displays, to celebrate our nation’s independence. No one wants to endanger people by keeping the tradition alive.

No decision has been made for Wellsburg. Last week, City Solicitor Ryan Weld, who happens to be a state senator, offered to consult Dr. Clay Marsh, the state’s COVID-19 response coordinator, on the matter.

No doubt Marsh will agree that tightly packed groups of people will be a bad idea, even by July 4. Perhaps he can offer some advice to let the show go on, however.

Surely there is a way to enjoy the rockets’ red glare and the bombs bursting in air without taking the risk of making more people sick.

We’re Americans, after all, renowned throughout the world for our ingenuity — and for our determination not to give up the ship, because we have just begun to fight.

Let’s find a way to enjoy our traditional community fireworks displays as we celebrate Independence Day.

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