New York City police are readying to step in and arrest people for violating COVID-19 social distancing rules, as the United States prepares for a hot and sunny Labor Day holiday weekend.
With temperatures in New York expected to be around 80 degrees all weekend, and with bright sunshine forecast, the NYPD are bracing themselves for large gatherings – which they will break up.
Extra officers have been drafted to police stations in Brooklyn hotspots in anticipation of an increased demand for processing detainees, a source told the New York Post.
‘If there’s violence, we’re going to make arrests,’ said Terence Monahan, chief of department for the NYPD.
‘Obviously, if there’s groups out there, we’re going to try to break it up.
‘We’re not looking to arrest people. They’re out to celebrate.
‘But we can’t have the violence.’
The city is also suffering from a surge in violence, with gunfights frequently breaking out at large cookouts in Brooklyn and the Bronx.
Since June 1, there’s been 708 shootings with 899 victims as compared to 277 shootings with 338 victims during the same period last year, said Monahan.
‘These house parties are so large it’s almost impossible for us not to see them,’ he said.
‘They’re very large, speakers blaring. We will be out in force and we will have enough cops to go in these parties and break them up.’
Monahan said he expects Brooklyn residents to celebrate.
‘But we’re asking that they celebrate small, celebrate with their families, celebrate on their block,’ he said, warning people from other parts of the city not to travel across the boroughs.
‘People who do not live in Brooklyn, there’s absolutely no reason to come into Brooklyn from Jersey, from the Bronx,’ said Monahan. ‘There are no events to come see.’
The traditional West Indian Day parade, which takes place on Labor Day, and the J’Ouvert festival which directly precedes have both been canceled this year due to the pandemic, and will take place online instead.
Police are still bracing for revelers to take to the streets of Crown Heights in Brooklyn, where the party is normally celebrated.
‘What we can’t have is large gatherings,’ said Bill de Blasio, mayor of New York.
‘If there’s a gathering it has to be kept under 50 people and it has to be kept smart.
‘You can celebrate from your home socially distant.’
New York officials were not the only ones concerned about the pandemic and the possibility of a surge in infections if people congregate over the holiday.
The forecasted heat wave is adding to fears, as people flock to the beaches to stay cool.
Around 43 million Americans along the West Coast are under an excessive heat watch and have been told to stay indoors, as record-high temperatures are expected to hit for Labor Day weekend.
Forecasters warned that a dangerous heat wave is headed for much of California, southern Nevada and western Arizona over the next three days, with temperatures soaring to up to 120 degrees.
Santa Monica beach in Los Angeles was packed with people on Saturday amid sweltering temperatures
Surfers and swimmers were out in force along Santa Monica beach on Saturday, as the weather service warned of the heat
A couple is pictured on the pier in Santa Monica looking at the crowds below on Saturday
Los Angeles’ Venice Beach drew crowds of children and adults alike to cool off amid intense heat
Hermosa Beach on Saturday was crowded with people, and few if any appeared to be following rules on face masks
Hermosa Beach, south of Los Angeles, drew crowds of sun worshipers and people seeking respite from the hot sun
The city of Hermosa Beach orders that people on their sandy shores wear face masks, but few were complying Saturday
Huntington Beach in southern California was crowded on Saturday, with many seeking refuge from the sun with parasols
California is bracing for what could be one of its hottest days in history, at a time when the Golden State is already under the grip of dozens of mammoth wildfires which have so far destroyed more than 1.5 million acres.
Records for temperatures were broken across the state, with Paso Robles having the hottest day in the city’s history, as the mercury hit 112 degrees on Saturday.
The Woodland Hills neighborhood of Los Angeles also had its hottest day ever, with temperatures reaching 117 degrees.
The wildfire warning for the Santa Barbara area was upgraded to a red flag.
On Saturday night the National Weather Service warned southern Californians that the conditions were likely to continue.
‘Expect a similar hot day tomorrow, with inland temperatures peaking between 110-120 degrees, hottest likely in the valleys,’ they tweeted.
‘There will be some cooling on Monday, but still well above normal for inland areas. Best cooling across the coast. Stay hydrated and cool!’
The National Weather Service warned on Saturday night of a ‘deadly heat wave’ in southern California
Paso Robles, north of Los Angeles, recorded its hottest ever temperature on Saturday in the midst of the heatwave
Around 43 million Americans are under an excessive heat watch and have been told to stay indoors
In Georgia, politicians were warning against people flocking to the beaches amid the heat and continuing pandemic threat.
In Atlanta, LGBTQ Black Pride is being held virtually, in a bid to stop the spread of COVID-19 in the hard-hit state.
Keisha Lance Bottoms, the mayor of Atlanta, who herself tested positive for coronavirus in early July, issued a statement saying it was entirely possible to enjoy Labor Day weekend, and respect local and state guidelines.
‘The City celebrates the spirit of Labor Day and Black LGBTQ Pride, and urges all residents and visitors to adhere to CDC guidelines and Orders set forth by the City and State,’ said spokesperson Michael Smith.
He emphasized that COVID-19 is disproportionately impacting black and brown communities.
‘If we are to curb the spread of this deadly disease, residents, visitors and organizers must take personal responsibility, wear masks, socially distance and use some common sense,’ he said.
Terrance Stewart, chair of Atlanta Black Pride, told 11Alive he was concerned about some of the parties being held in recent days, and advertised for the weekend.
‘There’s no way you can tell me that you guys are social distancing,’ he said.
‘The venues are packed. There was not a mask in sight.
‘I know it’s difficult, they know it’s going to be difficult. You can hand over an individual a mask at the door. They’ll put it on when they walk past you. Ten minutes later, it’s going to be off.’
Some party planners, he said, are using the name of Atlanta Black Pride to promote unlicensed, large-scale events which put the whole community at risk.
‘They don’t even live here,’ he said.
‘So, you come in, get a spot, you represent yourself as Atlanta Black Pride, you throw a party, something goes haywire, you leave town, we’re stuck with cleaning up your mess.’
According to EventBrite, there are at least three dozen other parties scheduled this weekend in Atlanta that are not affiliated with Atlanta Black Pride.
One event scheduled, which lasts until 3am on Sunday, is promoted as ‘The Biggest Labor Day Weekend Party in the City of Atlanta.’
South Carolina’s Myrtle Beach saw crowds of people take to the sea to cool off in the late August heat
Myrtle Beach in South Carolina was quieter than usual, after COVID-19 hampered the summer tourist season
In South Carolina, Myrtle Beach saw a fairly large number of people on Saturday taking to the waves, although numbers appeared to be down compared to previous years.
The state usually attracts large numbers of tourists from all over the country, looking to take advantage of the golden coastline.
However, the COVID-19 pandemic has hit the state hard, and tourist numbers are down.
South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control officials say the Myrtle Beach area has seen a total of 9,443 COVID-19 cases since the pandemic started in mid-March.
In June the area was dubbed a regional epicenter of the pandemic, according to Myrtle Beach online, but restaurants and shops are now cautiously reopening, and business owners are hoping to avoid a second wave.
In Florida, the most famous beach in Miami was also noticeably quieter.
South Beach still attracted people, but the numbers were significantly down compared to usual Labor Day holidays.
Miami’s South Beach – usually packed with people – was quieter than normal as pandemic precautions limited the crowds
And in Tennessee, hundreds of Trump supporters took to the waters to show their support for the president as part of a ‘Trumpilla’ of boats.
Flying the flags and displaying inflatables of the president, they cruised in their boats through the lakes and waterways.
One man was spotted in a Trump face mask, while others chose to show their support with t-shirts.
Bristol, Tennessee was the site of the South Holston Trump Boat parade on Saturday