President Donald Trump says the US is on its way to a “tremendous victory” over the “terrible plague from China”, despite a big surge in Covid-19 cases.
His upbeat video message to the nation was to mark Independence Day – yet many 4 July events have been cancelled on public health grounds.
Beaches have been closed in Florida and California, city parades cancelled and firework displays curtailed.
Hundreds are expected to attend a White House party Mr Trump is hosting later.
Despite grim US economic figures, including more than 20 million made jobless by the pandemic, the president said in his message that “we are getting close to fighting our way out of it” and “our country is coming back, our jobs numbers are spectacular”.
The US daily tally of coronavirus infections hit a new record of 52,300 on Friday, according to figures from Johns Hopkins University.
Florida, where the outbreak is especially acute, said it had recorded 11,458 new confirmed cases on Saturday.
The number of cases is rising in 39 states, and at least five – Alabama, Alaska, Kansas, North Carolina and South Carolina – had single-day case records on Friday, the New York Times reports.
According to Johns Hopkins research, nearly 130,000 people have died of Covid-19 in the US – the most of any country – and the US has 2.8 million confirmed cases.
How is 4 July being marked in the US?
In Washington, the White House has invited hundreds of paramedics, doctors and nurses to the 4 July party – medics who have been treating Covid-19 patients – despite the safety concerns of Washington DC’s Mayor Muriel Bowser.
“We are giving DC residents the same message about any of their outings for the holiday weekend,” Ms Bowser told reporters. “Ask yourself, ‘Do you need to be there?'”
The fight against the pandemic is a theme of what the White House calls its Independence Day “Salute to America”. Thousands of people are expected to pack nearby streets to watch a military flypast and fireworks.
The US Department of the Interior plans to hand out 300,000 face masks to spectators who gather on the National Mall. They will also be urged to keep 6ft (1.8m) apart.
Joe Biden, the Democratic Party rival to Mr Trump in this year’s presidential election, tweeted that “this Fourth of July, one of the most patriotic things you can do is wear a mask”.
Firework displays are a traditional highlight of 4 July, but an estimated 80% of cities and towns have cancelled their shows.
New York City usually holds an hour-long extravaganza, but this year it was replaced by five-minute displays through the week, organised by Macy’s department store, with a final televised one on Saturday – all at undisclosed locations.
Major League Baseball cancelled its 2020 All-Star Game for the first time since World War Two.
Defying the health warnings, President Trump on Friday addressed a big crowd at Mount Rushmore in South Dakota, condemning the “angry mobs” who had toppled statues in anti-racism protests.
The site, with its giant mountain carvings of former US presidents, was chosen to strengthen his claim that US heritage is under attack.
Two of the presidents whose faces are carved into Mount Rushmore – George Washington and Thomas Jefferson – were slave-owners.
Mr Trump, gearing up for a tough re-election battle, accused protesters of waging “a merciless campaign to wipe out our history, defame our heroes, erase our values and indoctrinate our children”.