President Donald Trump urged Americans to ‘gather’ together this Thanksgiving as President-elect Joe Biden advised people to stay home, acknowledging the sacrifice and pain of not being able to be with one’s family.
Both men are planning low-key Thanksgivings at their respective homes as coronavirus cases surge across the United States.
Trump is spending the holiday at the White House after canceling plans to travel to Mar-a-Lago, his residence in Palm Beach, Fla., where he typically spends Thanksgiving with his family, including his adult children from his previous marriages.
In his Thanksgiving proclamation, he encouraged Americans to gather and give thanks.
‘I encourage all Americans to gather, in homes and places of worship, to offer a prayer of thanks to God for our many blessings,’ he said in a statement.
President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump are spending Thanksgiving at the White House instead of traveling to Mar-a-Lago
Joe and Jill Biden are spending the holiday at their vacation home in Rehoboth, Delaware
Biden is spending the holiday his vacation home in Rehoboth, Delaware. He and his wife Jill are hosting their daughter Ashley Biden and her husband Dr. Howard Krein for Thanksgiving dinner for a scaled-back holiday.
The Bidens usually spend the long weekend on Nantucket – where they dine on lobster and turkey – with their extended family: a four decade tradition.
The family skipped that trip in 2015, the year their son Beau died of brain cancer, the president-elect noted in a Thanksgiving speech on Wednesday.
‘This year, we’re asking Americans to forego many of the traditions that have long made this holiday such a special one,’ Biden said in his remarks. ‘For our family, we’ve had a 40 plus year tradition of traveling over Thanksgiving, a tradition we’ve kept every year save one – the year after our son Beau died.’
‘But this year, we’ll be staying home,’ Biden said.
Biden’s plea for Americans to hold small gatherings came as daily deaths from COVID-19 in the United States have surpassed 2,100 for the first since May as millions of Americans continue to ignore CDC travel guidance and dire warnings from health experts that Thanksgiving could be the ‘mother of all superspreader events’.
He also alluded to people’s suffering in his presidential-style address to a nation, which came as more than 260,000 Americans died of the coronavirus.
‘I remember that first Thanksgiving, the empty chair, the silence,’ Biden said. ‘It takes your breath away. It’s really hard to care. It’s hard to give thanks.’
And, in an op-ed written for CNN, he and Jill said they recognize the sacrifice that families make when they are not able to be together in person.
‘This year, our turkey will be smaller and the clatter of cooking a little quieter. There will be no family walks in the cold or playful bickering amongst the grandkids. Like millions of Americans, we are temporarily letting go of the traditions we can’t do safely,’ they wrote.
‘May the emptiness at our tables and in our hearts be filled with memories of love and laughter. May we cherish our traditions, even when they are out of reach, and hold on to the hope of what’s still to come. We’re going to get through this together, even if we have to be apart,’ they noted.
The Bidens also recorded a video message for the holiday that they posted online, where they reminded people the importance of staying home and expressing gratitude for healthcare workers.
‘The small act of staying home is a gift to all Americans,’ Joe Biden said.
Jill Biden expressed thanks for frontline healthcare workers and American troops serving overseas.
‘We’re thankful for the millions of Americans who have been working on the frontlines during the pandemic,’ she said.
Vice President-elect Kamala Harris and her husband Doug Emhoff are also holding a small gathering – the couple will cook Thanksgiving dinner in their Washington D.C. home for just the two of them.
THANKSGIVING GROUP: President-elect Joe Biden (center left) said he’d be spending the holiday with his wife Jill (center right), daughter Ashley (left) and her husband Howard Krien (right)
Don Jr., the president’s oldest son who tested positive for coronavirus a couple of weeks ago, posted a message to Instagram he is ‘done with Rona’ and will spend Thanksgiving with family
Meanwhile, President Trump is expected to make the traditional call to members of the U.S. armed forces serving overseas. That call is scheduled for 3 p.m. Thursday but is closed to the media and public.
He’ll have his holiday dinner in the residence but the White House hasn’t said who will be joining him.
Don Jr., the president’s oldest son who tested positive for coronavirus a couple of weeks ago, posted a message to Instagram he is ‘done with Rona’ and will spend Thanksgiving with family.
He videotaped the message on Wednesday with girlfriend Kimberly Guilfoyle, noting the couple will be eating their ‘back up meal’ that day and then enjoying a second Thanksgiving feast.
‘I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to be cleared to be with my family but I got the medical OK I’m all done with the Rona,’ he noted.
‘I got cleared and we get to spend Thanksgiving the way it’s meant to be,’ he said in the video message.
The president is also reaching out to friends who could be having a tough time over the holidays.
THANKSGIVING TRAVEL IN NUMBERS:
By next Sunday, it is estimated that 6.3 million would have flown in the days before and after Thanksgiving, according to forecasts from the AAA and based on current figures. Nearly a million people have traveled by plane every day since the CDC issued strong guidance urging people to avoid travel last week.
48 million Americans will travel by car between today and Sunday, AAA says.
350,000 will travel by train between today and Sunday, according to AAA forecasts.
Eric Bolling, the Sinclair TV host whose son died of an accidental drug overdose in 2017, tweeted that Trump called him on Thanksgiving Day.
‘3 years ago today: A difficult first holiday without my Eric Chase.. the empty Thanksgiving seat being too real having just lost our son. The phone rang: ‘Eric, Melania and I want to tell you how much we feel for you today’ That call just came again. Thank you @realDonaldTrump,’ he wrote.
Last year on Thanksgiving, Trump made a surprise visit Afghanistan where he met with President Ashraf Ghani and served Thanksgiving dinner to U.S. troops stationed there.
But he and Biden are both staying home this year as medical experts advised Americans to do during the pandemic.
Dr. Anthony Fauci issued a final plea before the holidays urging people to keep indoor gatherings as small as possible and to increase mask wearing and social distancing. He noted that there is already a spike happening and the U.S. doesn’t want another Thanksgiving driven surge, which won’t be seen fully for at least another three weeks.
‘The final message is to do what we’ve been saying for some time… keep the indoor gatherings as small as you possibly can,’ he told ABC’s ‘Good Morning America’ on Wednesday. ‘By making that sacrifice you’re going to prevent people from getting infected.
‘The sacrifice now could save lives and illness and make the future much brighter as we get through this…we’re going to get through this. Vaccines are right on the horizon. If we can just hang in there a bit longer and continue to do the simple mitigation – masks, distancing, avoiding crowds. That’s my final plea before the holiday.’
Many Americans are making holiday treks however.
Nearly a million people have traveled by plane every day since the holiday travel season began last Friday – just one day after the CDC issued strong guidance urging people to avoid travel. By next Sunday, it is estimated that 6.3 million would have flown in the days before and after Thanksgiving, according to forecasts from the AAA and based on current figures.
AAA, which forecasts Thanksgiving travel every year, says 48 million Americans will travel by car and 350,000 by train between today and Sunday – just a 10 percent overall decline from last year.
The warnings from public health officials and the disregard across the country for the CDC’s travel guidance comes as the death toll surpassed 260,000 and infections nationwide topped 12.6 million.