COLUMBIA — The end of summer: Parades, beaches, travel and big parties make up the plans for Labor Day weekend — most years.
But 2020 is unlike any other year, and the holiday that celebrates American workers will look different in Columbia, and everywhere else in the United States, with the coronavirus pandemic in its sixth month.
Many of the nation’s largest end-of-summer parades and festivals have either been canceled or minimized to allow for social distancing and to prevent the further spread of the virus.
Here are five things to know about the holiday:
1. What’s Open, Closed For Labor Day
Howard County government offices, courts, centers, animal shelter and the Alpha Ridge Landfill will all be closed Monday, Sept. 7, in observance of Labor Day. Because there will not be any trash, recycling, yard trim or food scrap collection on Labor Day, the county’s holiday “slide” schedule will be in effect, meaning Monday’s pickup will be on Tuesday and Tuesday on Wednesday, and so forth.
While county parks will be open on Labor Day, the Cedar Lane and Schooley Mill Activity Rooms, Gary J. Arthur, North Laurel and Roger Carter Community Centers, Kiwanis-Wallas Hall, Meadowbrook Athletic Center, Robinson Nature Center and county historic sites will remain closed on Labor Day. Most county government buildings remain closed to the public due to the coronavirus.
2. How It All Began: History Of Labor Day
The first Labor Day holiday was celebrated in 1882, with a parade in New York City, but the question of who first proposed the idea of a holiday to honor workers is in dispute more than a century later.
Congress didn’t recognize the holiday until what History.com calls a “watershed moment” in American labor history: the 1894 Pullman Palace Car Company strike in Chicago. The strike led to sending federal troops into the city to quell rioters. Just days later, President Grover Cleveland signed a law making Labor Day, the first Monday of September, a national holiday.
3. In A Year, The Unemployment Rate Has Nearly Tripled
The unemployment rate has nearly tripled over the past year due to the pandemic. Numbers from the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics reported the national unemployment rate in July was at 10.2 percent. That’s down from the earlier months of the pandemic but still far higher than the 3.7 percent rate the bureau reported in July 2019. About 30 million American jobs have been lost, a June U.S. Department of Labor report details.
4. Don’t Spread The Virus
Health experts are warning Labor Day weekend planners against causing a spike in coronavirus cases. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, said the upcoming holiday weekend will be key in determining if the country gets a “running start” at controlling the virus in the fall. He stressed the importance of preventing surges that occurred after Memorial Day and the Fourth of July.
One large Fourth of July party in New York led to positive coronavirus diagnoses in one-third of its attendees. The nation’s largest yearly Labor Day parade, held in downtown Pittsburgh, was canceled in July due to coronavirus concerns. In 2019, the parade featured about 10,000 marchers.
Dr. Amy Compton-Phillips, chief clinical officer of Providence Health, said on CNN earlier this week: “Don’t gather in big groups. Do wash your hands. Don’t continue to pass this on.”
5. Top Travel Destinations
Labor Day — the holiday that marks the end of summer and the start of the school year — is among the busiest travel holidays of the year. Even as the coronavirus plays spoiler to many plans, a number of them are still on. A Travel Pulse report citing numbers from Tripit from Concur shows Las Vegas, Denver, Orlando, Chicago and Seattle are the most popular big city American destinations for the weekend.