United States President-elect Democrat Joe Biden and Republican President Donald Trump planned discreet Thanksgiving celebrations at home, like millions of Americans, while the United States pandemic coronavirus spreads in the country.
Former Vice President Biden would spend the holiday in the small coastal town of Rehoboth, Delaware, where he and his wife, Jill, have a vacation home. The Biden are to receive their daughter, Ashley Biden, and her husband, Dr. Howard Krein, for Thanksgiving dinner.
This year will be a rare exception to the Biden’s decades-old tradition of reuniting with the extended family on Thanksgiving, usually on Nantucket Island off the coast of Massachusetts. In a pre-holiday speech on Wednesday, Biden said that 40 years ago he has always traveled for Thanksgiving, except in the year after the death of his son Beau in 2015.
He alluded to this mourning in the presidential-style speech to a nation that has already lost more than 260,000 lives to the coronavirus.
“I remember that first Thanksgiving day, the empty chair, the silence. It knocks you out. It’s really hard to care. It’s hard to thank,” he said.
For Trump, this Thursday was very different from last year, when he made a surprise visit to Afghanistan, met President Ashraf Ghani and served turkey to some U.S. soldiers before having dinner with them.
Trump likes to celebrate holidays frequently at his Mar-a-Largo, Florida resort, but this Thursday he has scheduled to stay at the White House. In contrast to Biden, who urged his countrymen to celebrate the holiday safely wearing masks and practicing social detachment, Trump encouraged Americans to “get together” in his Thanksgiving proclamation.
“I encourage all Americans to come together, in homes and places of worship, to offer a prayer of thanks to God for our many blessings,” said the president, himself infected and recovered from Covid-19 last month, in a statement. .
Trump often ignores public health alerts, received large groups at the White House, and many of his guests refused to wear masks. In addition to him, several other prominent Americans, such as First Lady Melania Trump and members of Congress were diagnosed with Covid after such events.
Deaths from Covid-19 rose from 2,000 in a single day on Tuesday for the first time since May, and hospitalizations reached a record high of more than 89,000 on Wednesday.
(By Simon Lewis, Jeff Mason and Patricia Zengerle)