Now as people across the state plan their Fourth of July celebrations, health officials are warning residents about Fourth of July celebrations such as block parties and large gatherings.

After about three weeks into phase two Gov. Asa Hutchinson said he's not ready to ease business restrictions further as the state experiences a spike in coronavirus cases.

Now as people across the state plan their Fourth of July celebrations, health officials are warning residents about Fourth of July celebrations such as block parties and large gatherings.

Arkansas numbers have been on a steady incline since Memorial Day.

“If we have learned absolutely nothing from Memorial Day, then probably we will see the same thing," said Arkansas Department of Health Secretary Dr. Nate Smith said. “It often does lead to an older Arkansan losing their life. The decisions that we make individually, and collectively in our communities, can change the future in that sense.”

Hutchinson warned Arkansans to practice social distancing for the upcoming Fourth of July holiday. He said the Health Department would use social media to emphasize the need to take steps during Fourth of July gatherings such as keeping a safe distance from people of other households and wearing a mask when that's not possible.

According to ADH, face coverings should cover both the mouth and nose. Frequent handwashing is advised, and anyone with symptoms such as fever, cough or shortness of breath should avoid contact with others and seek a COVID-19 test.

Officials said they are prepared for a worst-case scenario if Arkansans fail to take the proper precautions over the Fourth of July weekend. They have ordered more ventilators for Arkansas hospitals.

Pine Bluff Fire Chief, Shauwn Howell said whatever people have planned, Pine Bluff Fire & Emergency Services wants them to enjoy their holiday and has steps they can follow to be safe.

“We want everyone to have a great holiday, and a safe one,” said Howell. “Whether the holiday will involve fireworks, grilling or going to the water, we have safety tips everyone can follow.”

Howell suggests attending a professional public fireworks show is the safest alternative staying at least 500 feet away from the show.

“Many states outlaw most fireworks,” said Howell. “In accordance with Pine Bluff City Ordinance 5807, it is unlawful to discharge fireworks inside the city limits of Pine Bluff.”

If someone is setting fireworks off at home, Howell suggests the following safety tips:

• Never give fireworks to small children, and always follow the instructions on the packaging.

• Keep a supply of water close by as a precaution.

• Make sure the person lighting fireworks always wears eye protection.

• Light only one firework at a time and never attempt to relight "a dud."

• Store fireworks in a cool, dry place away from children and pets.

• Never throw or point a firework toward people, animals, vehicles, structures or flammable materials.

• Leave any area immediately where untrained amateurs are using fireworks

The Arkansas Department of Health has additional safety precautions when it comes to fireworks, food, water and heat safety.

Fireworks-related injuries are most common on the Fourth of July according to ADH. Improper use of fireworks can lead to death and injury, including burns, cuts, and foreign objects in the eye.

ADH says to never give fireworks to children or shoot them near pets.

Due to a variety of factors, including warmer temperatures, foodborne illness increases in summer. When handling food during the holiday, ADH encourages the use of an insulated cooler filled with ice or frozen gel packs when bringing food to a picnic or cookout, avoiding repeated opening so the food stays cold.

In hot weather (above 90 °F), ADH says food should never sit out for more than one hour. After cooking meat and poultry on the grill, keep it hot until served – at 140°F or warmer and use different utensils for handling raw meat than you use for cooked or ready-to-eat foods.

For more information regarding injury prevention, visit healthy.arkansas.gov.