President-elect Joe Biden delivered an upbeat Thanksgiving address Wednesday just minutes after President Donald Trump wrapped up a call into a Pennsylvania hearing, where he, again, contested the election results.
Biden said he believed 'this grim season of division and demonization will give way to a year of light and unity' and he talked about love and what to be thankful for after nearly all of 2020 was overwhelmed by the COVID-19 crisis.
'We don't talk about love too much in our politics,' the president-elect said. 'The public arena is too loud, too angry, too heated. To love our neighbors as ourselves is a radical act, yet it’s what we’re called to do.'
Part of that, he pleaded, is to hold pared-down Thanksgiving festivities this year as coronavirus numbers continue to climb.
'This year, we’re asking Americans to forego many of the traditions that have long made this holiday such a special one,' he said. '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 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'.
President-elect Joe Biden gave a Thanksgiving address Wednesday where he talked about love and sacrificing the holiday for the good of others, as coronavirus cases increase
President-elect Joe Biden holds up a mask as he talks about the coronavirus crisis and how Americans can celebrate Thanksgiving responsibly
The daily death toll across the country spiked to 2,146 yesterday, which is the highest number of deaths per day since May 8 during the initial peak of the virus. Nine states, including North Dakota, Ohio, Washington, Indiana, Missouri, Wisconsin, Oregon, Maine and Alaska, reported record numbers of deaths yesterday.
Health officials have been warning for weeks that deaths, which are a lagging indicator, would increase after the number of cases and hospitalizations started surging in late September.
There were 172,935 new cases recorded yesterday alone and the number of infections has consistently been well above 100,000 every day for the last three weeks.
There is currently a record 88,000 patients being treated in hospitals across the country. The US has repeatedly set daily records for the number of hospitalizations for the past month and 30 of the 50 states have reported a record number of COVID-19-related hospitalizations in November alone.
THANKSGIVING GROUP: The president-elect (center left) said he'd be spending the holiday with his wife Jill (center right), daughter Ashley (left) and her husband Howard Krien (right)
Despite the devastating figures and the fact that hospitals are already overwhelmed in parts of the country, the death toll is only expected to surge with millions defying official warnings and traveling for Thursday's Thanksgiving holiday.
Dr Anthony Fauci warned that the US is already in the middle of a spike and that the true impact of Thanksgiving travel and gatherings won't be seen for another three weeks when infections and hospitalizations could surge even higher.
'It's potentially the mother of all superspreader events,' Dr. Jonathan Reiner, a former adviser of the White House medical team, told CNN.
Biden will be staying at his second 'home' for the Thanksgiving holiday - his Rehoboth Beach house.
His motorcade departed toward the coast minutes after he concluded his speech.
'We have always had big family gatherings at Thanksgiving. Kids, grandkids, aunts, uncles, and more,' he said. 'But this year, because we care so much for each other, we’re going to be having separate Thanksgivings.'
'For Jill and I, we’ll be at home in Delaware with our daughter and son-in-law,' he continued.
Like his first home in Wilmington, Rehoboth Beach is in Delaware.
Americans stand in line to get COVID-19 tests ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday. The president-elect asked Americans to wear masks, stay socially distant and only celebrate the holiday in small groups
President-elect Joe Biden spoke Wednesday at the Queen theater in Wilmington with socially distanced reporters as his main audience members
Biden began his remarks by speaking about the strain the pandemic has put on the country.
'It has divided us. Angered us. And set us against one another,' he said.
'I know the country has grown weary of the fight,' he continued. 'But we need to remember we’re at a war with a virus - not with each other.'
He asked Americans to 'steel our spines, redouble our efforts, and recommit ourselves to the fight.'
He asked that people wear masks, practice social distancing and celebrate the holiday in smaller groups.
'None of these steps we're asking people to take are political statements,' he said. 'Every one of them is based in science.'
Biden pledged that his administration would start 'Day One' in dealing with the virus.
He also talked about how promising vaccine news meant that there was light at the end of the tunnel.
'There is real hope, tangible hope. So hang on. Don’t let yourself surrender to the fatigue,' he said. 'I know we can and we will beat this virus. America is not going to lose this war'
'You will get your lives back. Life is going to return to normal. That will happen. This will not last forever,' he promised.
Biden turned to history and talked of the struggles of the previous generations.
'And what was it that brought the reality of America into closer alignment with its promise of equality, justice, and prosperity?' Biden asked. 'It was love. Plain and simple.Love of country and love for one another.'
There is currently a record 88,000 patients being treated in hospitals across the country. The US has repeatedly set daily records for the number of hospitalizations for the past month and 30 of the 50 states have reported a record number of COVID-19-related hospitalizations in November
The daily death toll across the country spiked to 2,146 yesterday, which is the highest number of deaths per day since May 8 during the initial peak of the virus
There were 172,935 new cases recorded yesterday alone and the number of infections has consistently been well above 100,000 per day for the last three weeks
And Biden being Biden, he dedicated a portion of the address to addressing grief.
'For so many of us, it’s hard to hear that this fight isn’t over, that we still have months of this battle ahead of us,' he said. 'And for those who have lost loved ones, I know this time of year is especially difficult.'
'Believe me, I know. I remember that first Thanksgiving,' he said, likely a reference to the aftermath of the 2015 death of son, Beau. 'The empty chair, the silence. It takes your breath away. It’s hard to care. It’s hard to give thanks. It’s hard to look forward. And it’s so hard to hope.'
'I understand,' the president-elect said.
As for what to be thankful for, the president-elect suggested 'democracy itself.'
'Our democracy was tested this year. And what we learned is this: The people of this nation are up to the task,' he said. 'In America, we have full and fair and free elections, and then we honor the results.'
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.
Minutes before Biden took the stage at the Queen theater, Trump had called into a hearing organized by Republican Pennsylvania lawmakers and told supporters gathered mask-less in a hotel in Gettysburg that the results of the election shouldn't stand.
'We have to turn the election over,' Trump said. 'All we need is to have some judge listen to it properly.'
The hearing hosted an array of Pennsylvania witnesses, many whom complained about not understanding the voting process properly.
The Trump campaign has still not been able to provide evidence of a widespread fraud that would diminish Biden's six million-plus vote and Electoral College lead.
'We should be thankful, too, that America is a covenant and an unfolding story,' Biden added. 'And this is our moment - ours together - to write a newer, bolder, more compassionate chapter in the life of our nation.'
Biden said his interpretation of the election was that the people wanted 'solutions, not shouting,' 'reason, not hyper-partisanship' and 'light, not heat.'
'You want us to hear one another again, see one another again, respect one another again,' he said. 'You want us - Democrats and Republicans and Independents - to come together and work together.'
'And that, my friends, is what I am determined to do,' he pledged.
He concluded his Wednesday appearance, by trying to pep the country up.
'Americans dream big. And, as hard as it may seem this Thanksgiving, we are going to dream big again. Our future is bright,' he said. 'On this Thanksgiving, and in anticipation of all the Thanksgivings to come, let us dream again.'
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.
The US currently leads the world with the highest number of deaths and cases and Dr Tatiana Prowell of the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine said all of the Thanksgiving travel will ensure that 'no one will catch us either'.
'The US 'each person for himself' mindset is killing hundreds of thousands of us. Devastating to watch,' Prowell said.
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 US 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. '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.'
Fauci warned yesterday that the US could surpass a 'stunning' 300,000 deaths by the end of the year if the current trajectory continues.
How U.S. states and cities are cracking down on Thanksgiving travel
New York City
In New York City, checkpoints at bridges, tunnels and other keys crossings will have cops out 'in force' to inform travelers of the state's quarantine requirements.
Travelers into New York are required to have a negative test before arriving and then again four days into their trip; if that's negative, they can stop quarantining.
The rules don't apply to neighboring states and New Yorkers who are out-of-state for less than 24 hours only need to take a coronavirus test within four days of returning to the state.
Test and trace tests will also be out in the city to help travelers with the rules, authorities said.
Those who violate the rules face a fine of $2,000, Mayor Bill de Blasio added.
Los Angeles introduced an online form that asks air travelers to acknowledge that there is a recommendation to quarantine for 14 days.
The quarantine is not a requirement in the state, however, and the CDC has already suggested that it may shorten the quarantine time from the two weeks currently recommended to between eight and ten days.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot introduced a nonbinding 30-day stay-at-home advisory as she advised residents to cancel Thanksgiving plans and stay at home unless they need to go to work or school or to tend to essential needs.
Mayor Ras Baraka has issued a stay at home order for ten days starting from Wednesday to slow the spread of the coronavirus in the state's largest city.
Governor Phil Scott remained worried about Thanksgiving travel in Vermont Tuesday as he called for students to be interrogated about their Thanksgiving plans before being allowed back to in-person teaching.
He directed schools to as students if they had been a part of a multi-family Thanksgiving gathering, requiring those who have done so to transition to online learning for 14 days.
In Pennsylvania, Gov. Tom Wolf announced that law enforcement would be stepping up efforts to enforce the state's safety plan, which requires people entering from a different state - whether Pennsylvania residents or not - to test negative for the virus within 72 hours before they arrive in the commonwealth.
As well as imploring residents to forgo large gatherings, Gov. Wolf has introduced a one-night shutdown of alcohol sales for in-person consumption at places like bars and restaurants. The shutoff will begin at 5pm on Wednesday.
Gov. Larry Hogan has introduced 'High Visibility Compliance Units' which will send out state troopers to patrol near bars, restaurants and event venues to crack down on any public gatherings.
Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced in a Twitter post that the state will 'hit reset' and a statewide stay-at-home order began on November 16 to discourage travel.
New Mexicans were instructed to shelter in place and stay at home apart from essential trips. All non-essential and non-profit business were forced to close their in-person activities.
Gov. Tim Walz announced a blanket ban on social gatherings
'Except as specifically permitted in this Executive Order, social gatherings are prohibited,' the Walz executive order says.
Governor Kate Boren has also announced a 'two-week' freeze on most activities and nonessential businesses across the state.
Gov. Jay Inslee ordered a one-month ban on indoor services at restaurants and gyms and reduced in-store retail capacity to 25 percent.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer issued a ban on in-person high school and college classes, as well as indoor dining service for three weeks, as she hoped to keep people at home over Thanksgiving.
Gov. Gina Raimondo called for a 'two-week pause' with businesses closures and reduced restaurant capacity. The pause will be reviewed on December 13 when the state may go into a further lockdown.
CASES PER CAPITA: States in the Midwest continue to be among the hardest hit in the country based on cases and deaths per 100,000 people. North Dakota is still the worst affected with 158 cases per 100,000 people in the last week. Wyoming follows with 154 cases, New Mexico with 127 cases, South Dakota with 122 and Minnesota with 115 cases per capita