(Reuters) – Americans woke up on Thursday to celebrate Thanksgiving Day, which has been transformed by the coronavirus pandemic, as Messi’s show was restricted to a TV event only, and many families have resigned to a video meeting for dinner in Turkey.
Thanksgiving, usually a day when family and friends gather in large numbers to celebrate and remember the blessings of life, has been upended by the pandemic, with cases and deaths soaring in recent weeks as lower temperatures pushed people indoors as the virus spreads more easily.
Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York, a scene of giant character balloons that has delighted children for nearly a century, has been drastically curtailed. The track is a long block, as opposed to 2.5 miles; Balloon handlers have been replaced by specially equipped vehicles; Onlookers will not be permitted to stand in the streets as before.
“This is so we can keep everyone at home safe,” said Susan Terceiro, executive producer of the show, which will be broadcast on NBC on Thursday from nine in the morning until noon in all US time zones. “This year, more than ever, it’s really important that we still have something everyone can hear on Thanksgiving morning.”
The number of hospital admissions in the United States for COVID-19 reached a record high of 88,000 on Wednesday, and experts warn that Thanksgiving Day could significantly increase the death toll to over 260,000 nationwide.
Despite advice from the Centers for Disease Control to stay home for the vacation, nearly 5 million Americans traveled by air from Friday to Tuesday, according to the U.S. Transportation Security Administration, although that’s less than half the number over the same period last year. .
Many Americans consider the annual meeting of turkey, mashed potatoes, and pumpkin pie important enough to risk potential infection. Nearly 40% plan to attend a “risky gathering” during the holiday season, either more than 10 people or with people outside of their family, and a third of them will not need masks, according to a national survey by Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center.
Several people have canceled travel plans and will instead reach out to loved ones via FaceTime or Zoom.
On Wedneday Rhode Island, Governor Gina Raimondo pleaded with her constituents to make Thanksgiving gatherings as small as possible, arguing that they would save lives. As the number of hospitalizations rises, the state will begin a two-week “pause” on Monday, with bars, gyms and other establishments closed.
“If you have that tough phone call with mom and dad and you say, ‘I’m not going for Thanksgiving this year,’ … thank you,” she told a news conference. “If you haven’t already, it’s not too late.”
(Reported by Angela Moore in New York and Nathan Lynn in Wilton, Connecticut); Edited by Richard Chang