Usually a family harvest festival. Thanksgiving was hit by the coronavirus, and cases and deaths rose.

Americans woke up Thursday to celebrate a harvest festival transformed by the coronavirus pandemic. The Macy’s Parade was a television-only event, and many families indulged themselves in video meeting for turkey dinner.

Thanksgiving, usually a day when family and friends gather in large numbers to celebrate and remember the blessings of life, has been troubled by the pandemic. Cases and deaths have risen in recent weeks as cooler temperatures push people indoors, where the virus is more likely to spread.

New York’s Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, a giant character balloon spectacle that has delighted children for nearly a century, has been scaled back significantly. The route is more like blocks than four kilometers. The balloon operators have been replaced by specially assembled vehicles, and spectators are no longer allowed to line the streets as they were before.

Participants gather outside the 94th Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, which is closed to spectators due to the spread of COVID-19 [Andrew Kelly/Reuters]The event kicked off Thursday morning with a series of musical performances and balloons, including a four-story lead dog from the animated series PAW Patrol – all without the usual millions that can be seen from the street.

U.S. hospital stays for COVID-19 hit a record 88,000 on Wednesday, and experts warn that Thanksgiving could significantly increase the death toll, which has exceeded 260,000 nationwide.

Despite the Centers for Disease Control’s advice to stay home during the vacation, nearly five million Americans traveled by air Friday through Tuesday, according to the U.S. Transportation Security Administration, up from less than half the number for the same period last year is.

Many Americans consider the annual turkey, mashed potato, and pumpkin pie ritual important enough to risk infection. Nearly 40 percent plan to attend a “risky gathering” during the holiday season, either with more than 10 people or with people outside their homes, and a third do not require a mask center, according to a national survey by Ohio State University Wexner Medical.

Many others have canceled travel plans and will instead connect with loved ones through FaceTime or Zoom.

While the number of Americans who have traveled by plane in the past few days has decreased dramatically from the same period last year, many have pushed ahead with their vacation plans [Kamil Krzaczynski/Reuters]Those who fly experienced a special landscape at the country’s airports in 2020: Plexiglass barriers in front of the ID stations, locations for quick virus tests in terminals, masks in check-in areas and on board aircraft, as well as paperwork in which the Passengers quarantined on arrival were their destination.

While the number of Americans traveling by air before vacation was far fewer than last year, many have pushed their vacation plans forward. Some got fed up with social distancing for over eight months and were determined to hang out with loved ones.

From Friday to Wednesday, about 900,000 to a million people passed the checkpoints at US airports every day, a decrease of about 60 percent from the same period last year. Still, these were some of the largest crowds since the US COVID-19 crisis in March.

Last year, 26 million passengers and crew passed through US airport control in the eleven days surrounding Thanksgiving.

More Americans travel than fly on vacation, and AAA has forecast those numbers are likely to be lower this year too. How much lower the automobile club didn’t say.

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