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Noem speaks at the 2020 GOP Convention. Photo: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem (R) will continue her efforts to celebrate Independence Day with fireworks at Mount Rushmore despite the Biden administration's refusal to grant her request.

Why it matters: Noem's push to ensure the fireworks comes amid a number of concerns about coronavirus spread, wildfires and tribal sovereignty — the monument is carved into land sacred to the Lakota Sioux.

What they're saying: Noem will do "everything in her ability" to move forward with her plan, the governor's Communications Director Ian Fury said in a statement to Axios.

  • Noem's office referenced President Biden's speech last week, in which he said there is a "good chance" Americans will be able to get together to celebrate Independence Day.
  • "The best place in America to hold such a special celebration would be Mount Rushmore, fireworks included," Fury said.

The other side: The National Park Service (NPS) denied Noem's request last Friday, citing potential risks regarding the health and safety of both the park and people.

  • The NPS added that many tribal partners "expressly oppose fireworks at the Memorial," according to The Hill.

The big picture: Last year's Fourth of July celebration, which Noem hosted with former President Trump, included the first use of fireworks at the monument since 2009 — prior shows were always canceled due to wildfire concerns.

  • Noem, who said "we will not be social distancing" at the event, faced similar pushback.
  • A former fire management officer for Mount Rushmore and six other national parks in the region said the fireworks show were "ill advised" due to "extremely flammable" burning debris, embers and shells, per the Argus Leader.

Indigenous leaders deigned it a sign of disrespect. "We are now being forced to witness the lashing of our land with pomp, arrogance and fire hoping our sacred lands survive," Harold Frazier, chairman of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, told USA Today in June.

  • Frazier went as far as calling for the monument's removal.

Go deeper

Updated 50 mins ago - Health

NYC firefighters union urges members to defy mayor's vaccine mandate

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. Photo: Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

The president of New York City's firefighters union told reporters Wednesday that he's advised unvaccinated members to ignore Mayor Bill de Blasio's COVID-19 vaccine mandate for city workers, per Reuters.

Why it matters: Under de Blasio's order that's due to take effect Friday, unvaccinated city employees would be placed on unpaid leave. But Uniformed Firefighters Association head Andrew Ansbro said he told members that "if they choose to remain unvaccinated, they must still report for duty," according to Reuters.

2 hours ago - Health

Study: Common antidepressant guards against COVID hospitalization

A COVID-19 intensive Care Unit in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil on May 27, 2021. Photo: Fabio Teixeira/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The readily available antidepressant fluvoxamine significantly reduced COVID-related hospitalizations, according to a large study published Wednesday.

Why it matters: The clinical trial suggests that a cheap, readily available drug could dramatically reduce serious illness and death when prescribed early.

By the numbers: Catholics, Biden and abortion

Expand chart
Reproduced from Pew Research Center; Chart: Axios Visuals

President Biden — the second Catholic U.S. president — will meet with Pope Francis at the Vatican on Friday, as some church leaders debate whether to deny Holy Communion to politicians who support abortion rights.

By the numbers: Overall, two in three U.S. Catholics believe Biden should be allowed to take Communion despite his stance on abortion, according to polling by Pew Research Center.