This year, the National Park Service said it was taking extra safety precautions on the National Mall, installing more than 100 hand-washing stations throughout the area, up from 15 last year. Officials also said they had 300,000 cloth facial coverings on hand to distribute.
“We are committed to providing the American people with a safe and spectacular celebration of our nation’s birthday in Washington D.C., which will honor our military with music, flyovers and fireworks,” a spokesman for the park service said. “We are doing so consistent with our mission and historical practices, and we hope everyone enjoys the day’s festivities.”
The president’s political opponents, however, said the celebrations were about one person, only: the president himself.
“Donald Trump is seeking to aggrandize himself and divide our nation at yet another rally,” said Andrew Bates, a spokesman for Mr. Biden. “Joe Biden believes the presidency is about serving the American people — whereas Donald Trump only exploits it to serve himself.”
On Friday, Mr. Trump spent the day at his golf course in Sterling, Va., before he departed for South Dakota, and White House officials said they had no safety concerns about the trip.
But the virus had already shown it can infiltrate the administration, and the White House has experienced the dangers of staging large gatherings as the pandemic rages. Vice President Mike Pence postponed a planned trip this week to Arizona after Secret Service agents set to accompany him tested positive for the coronavirus or showed symptoms. And at least eight campaign staff members who helped plan Mr. Trump’s indoor rally last month in Tulsa, Okla., have tested positive, either before the rally or after attending.
Before the president left for South Dakota on Friday, Trump campaign aides were circulating on social a doctored image of Mount Rushmore, featuring Mr. Trump’s face carved into the stone next to some of the nation’s most revered presidents.