Big crowds celebrated July Fourth as coronavirus cases spike across the country

In some parts of the country, revelers appeared to act as if there wasn't a pandemic.

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By Ben Kesslen

As hospital beds across the country filled up and coronavirus cases spiked, some Americans took to celebrating July Fourth like they have in past years: in big outdoor gatherings, maskless and seemingly unbothered by the coronavirus.

In Fire Island, a New York beach town popular with gay men and lesbians, images circulated of a crowded beach party, with no masks in sight. Suffolk County, where the island lies, is in Phase 3 of reopening, which permits outdoors gatherings of no more than 25 people.

On the Fourth, police said they responded to large groups on the island. "Police officers walked through the group reminding them of the mask/social distancing requirements," Suffolk County Police said in a statement, adding that they had received several complaints about noise on the island.

In southwestern Michigan, a similar scene played out at the Diamond Lake Sandbar, where video circulated of hundreds of attended crowded together and partying, according to The Detroit Free Press. The scene comes after Michigan, hard hit by the coronavirus and seemingly on the path to recovery, is once again seeing a spike in cases.

And in southern Wisconsin, a busy waterpark that was operating at limited capacity also drew concern during the holiday. "All things considered, this is a pretty big crowd," a reporter with a local CBS affiliate said on Twitter.

The images of the crowds come as many places that are popular summer spots are showing massive COVID spikes. Over the weekend, Florida surpassed 200,000 coronavirus cases as the state reported another 10,059 new positives on Sunday. The day before, the state reported more than 11,000 new cases, approaching New York's record for the highest daily tally of 11,571 from April.

Throughout the country, tens of thousands of new cases are being added each day, as the Trump administration has shifted its messaging on the virus to "we need to live with it."

Elisha Fieldstadt contributed.