It is growing increasingly hard to separate political news from COVID-19 these days. As Americans get set to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday, here is a look at what is happening at the intersection of politics and the ongoing global pandemic.
Biden Delivers Thanksgiving Message: On Thanksgiving Eve, President-elect Joe Biden assumed the role of the nation’s leader when he addressed Americans concerning the severity of the pandemic. The somber speech urged listeners to take the pandemic seriously by committing to engaging in safe behaviors over Thanksgiving.
The speech also aimed to give Americans hope for what is on the horizon. While Biden admitted that this was an extremely challenging time for many, he spoke of the promising vaccine development and better days ahead. The address ended with Biden pleading with Americans to hang in there and do their part by not surrendering to their pandemic fatigue.
Trump’s Thanksgiving Proclamation Contradicts Government Guidance: President Trump released his annual Thanksgiving proclamation on Wednesday, urging Americans to “gather” together in homes and places of worship while giving thanks for their blessings. This message is in direct contrast to the guidance provided by federal public health officials who have asked the nation to remain at home and within their own household.
The proclamation was issued by the White House press secretary’s office. The advice is a serious contradiction to warnings from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) asking people to not travel over the holiday. Because of surging COVID-19 cases, public health officials are worried that family gatherings could lead to even more infections, putting older and more vulnerable people at risk of catching the virus.
What is Happening Around the Country: As families debate about the safety of gathering together this holiday season, most states are seeing soaring numbers of confirmed infections.
- Los Angeles County – Amidst the news of Los Angeles County seeing over 4,300 cases on Wednesday, Health Services Director Dr. Christina Ghaly delivered the bad news about the county’s hospital bed situation. Ghaly said that the county may see a shortage of regular hospital beds as well as intensive care units within the next two to four weeks if the current tractory of cases keeps pace with what they are now experiencing.
- Wyoming – Another high-ranking government official has tested positive for the virus. On Wednesday, the office of Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon confirmed that he had COVID-19. According to the statement, Gordon is experiencing mild symptoms and is working from home in quarantine.
- Texas – The Texas Department of Health Services reported a record-high number of 14,648 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday. This brings the total number of cases in the Lone Star State to 1,130,980. Texas officials also reported 200 new fatalities related to COVID-19 and its complications, taking the total number of deaths to 20,950.
- Kansas – The Midwest is being hit particularly hard in this wave of COVID-19 and Kansas is no exception. According to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE), the state reported 5,738 new cases over the last two days. This brings the state’s total number of confirmed infections since the pandemic began to nearly 148,000. Since Monday’s report, the KDHE has also confirmed 47 new deaths. Combined with 144 new hospitalizations this week, this means that only 35% of the state’s ICU beds have availability. Also concerning is the state’s 18.7% positivity rate in November, the highest that this percentage has been since the start of the pandemic.
- Pennsylvania – The Pennsylvania Department of Health announced that the state has crossed the 10,000-mark threshold in total deaths related to COVID-19. As a result of growing numbers of cases, officials sent out an emergency alert to cellphones on Wednesday, urging residents to stay home for the Thanksgiving holiday.
- California – The Golden State saw a massive amount of 18,350 new cases in one single day. This was almost 3,000 more than the previous record set just last week. Gov. Gavin Newsom is addressing the surge in hospitalizations and intensive care unit admissions by creating a plan to possibly add an additional 2,000 beds in days if needed. As of Wednesday afternoon, there were fewer than 2,000 ICU beds available.
- Additonal Hotspots – It is hard to find a state that is not breaking records these days. Other states seeing alarming rises in cases include Ohio with over 10,000 new daily cases on Wednesday, Florida with over 8,000 cases, and Wisconsin with over 5,000 cases.
Fauci Issues Final Thanksgiving Warnings to Americans: On Thanksgiving Eve, the US recorded over 2,000 deaths attributed to COVID-19. This figure marks the 22nd day since the pandemic began that the US saw over 2,000 fatalities. The last time that this happened was in May. In light of this rapid trajectory, Dr. Anthony Fauci issued another plea to Americans to make good decisions.
The director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) said that his final message prior to Americans was to keep their indoor gatherings as small as possible. The 79-year-old previously said that his three daughters are not coming home for the holiday, choosing to Zoom him and his wife instead.