If Memorial Day unofficially signals the start of summer in Texas, the Fourth of July confirms that it’s here for the long haul. For many Texans, both holidays are about getting outside — hitting the beaches, going to parks, barbecuing, swimming — and on Independence Day, taking in a fireworks show and maybe setting a few off themselves.

But this Fourth of July was like no other. COVID-19 is surging across the state, and not just in the cities. Memorial Day weekend is now widely seen as a turning point, when people flocked to newly reopened bars and other businesses after the state had seemed to escape the worst of the pandemic’s early weeks.

Just over a month later, Texas is setting new records for new cases and hospitalizations nearly every day as hospitals across the state signal that they’re straining or surpassing their capacity.

Four Texas Tribune photographers went out this July 4 to see how Texans are adapting to the news of soaring cases and the return of some restrictions — including a nearly statewide mask requirement — as the state struggles to balance the health of its citizens and a reeling economy. Here’s a look at what they found.

A family waves as they drive by a decorated house as part of Allandale Neighborhood’s Reverse Parade for the Fourth of Jul...

Eddie Seal for The Texas Tribune

Schlitterbahn Water Park on July 4, 2020.

North Padre Island Beaches were closed to vehicular access from Friday, July 3 to Tuesday, July 7, 2020 to discourage crow...

Eddie Gaspar/The Texas Tribune | Jordan Vonderhaar for The Texas Tribune

Allie Goulding/The Texas Tribune | Eddie Seal for The The Texas Tribune

Eddie Gaspar/The Texas Tribune

Boaters on Lake Austin on July 4, 2020.

Allie Goulding/The Texas Tribune | Jordan Vonderhaar for The Texas Tribune

Families attend a fireworks show at Doc’s Drive-in Theatre in Buda to celebrate the Fourth of July holiday.



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