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NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- Fourth of July celebrations started early this year, a week in advance, as a city planned on unannounced fireworks in various locations to keep crowds away - Saturday's grand finale wasn't the only tradition with changes.

This year, organizers launched unannounced fireworks displays in select areas across the city, like a display in the heart of Times Square to prevent large gatherings as health and safety this year is the top priority.



While the view was perfect Saturday in Long Island City, it was a different kind of celebration, with minimal crowds and families in small groups - but they were all coming together for the same tradition.

The fireworks grand finale launched from Empire State Building, lasting only a few minutes...not so impressive for some.

This year, beaches enforced stricter efforts to maintain social distancing.

Beaches are open for swimming, but one of the changes made for the holiday weekend are for beachgoers to wear a face mask when not in the water.

Many people flocking to beaches like at Coney Island will be met by social distancing ambassadors, assigned by the city, handing out masks and reminding people to stay six feet apart.

It can be a challenge on a hot day when the city's 14 miles of beaches can attract up to a million visitors.

Business owners at beaches have been taking a hit thus far as rides at Coney Island will be shut down and to-go only for concession stands.

And, nothing says happy birthday America more than scarfing down dozens of hot dogs at Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest, which happens Saturday afternoon with no fans at an undisclosed location. There will also be limited competitors.

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California is first state to exceed half-million coronavirus cases

California has become the first US state to record more than a half-million cases of the coronavirus — as New York City and state reported they are holding steady on their low figures.

As of Saturday, the Golden State registered 509,162 cases of the contagion — and set a grim new daily record for itself of 176 related fatalities a day earlier, according to its web site.

Those deaths helped put the country’s daily coronavirus fatality total over 1,000 for the sixth day in a row.

Meanwhile, New York reported its least number of hospitalizations Saturday, 556, since March 17 and three deaths, part of a rolling three-day average that was the lowest for the state since the pandemic took hold, according to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office.

The state’s positive-test rate also was 0.9, while the city’s was 1.0.

The city had no deaths yesterday, said the state, which offered fresher numbers than the ones on the Big Apple’s Web site, although not including presumed COVID-19 deaths, only confirmed ones.

“We’ve now conducted over 6 million tests, and the numbers are just about where we want them to be, which is all very good news and says that our plan is working,” Cuomo said in a statement.

“However, context is important, and there are storm clouds on the horizon in the form of new cases throughout the country, and a lack of compliance here in the state, and I urge New Yorkers to stay New York Smart and local governments to properly enforce state guidance.”

He said the state Liquor Authority and State Police Task Force went to 1,070 bars, restaurants and other establishments in the city and on Long Island on Saturday and found that 36 were not in compliance with health guidelines amid the virus.

According to the state, there were: 18 scofflaw establishments in Queens; 10 in Manhattan; five in The Bronx; one on Staten Island and two in Suffolk County on Long Island.

Filed under california ,  Coronavirus ,  Coronavirus in NY ,  8/2/20

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