Americans awoke on Thursday to celebrate a Thanksgiving Day transformed by the coronavirus pandemic, with the Macy's parade limited to a television-only event and many families resigned to meeting on video for turkey dinner.
Thanksgiving, normally a day for family and friends to gather in big numbers to feast and remember life's blessings, has been upended by the pandemic, with cases and deaths surging in recent weeks as cooler temperatures push people indoors where the virus spreads more easily.
The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York, a spectacle of giant character balloons that has delighted children for nearly a century, has been scaled back significantly. The route is a block long, rather than 2.5 miles; balloon handlers have been replaced by specially rigged vehicles; and spectators will not be allowed to line the streets as before.
"And that's so that we can keep everybody at home safe," said Susan Tercero, executive producer of the parade, which NBC will air on Thursday from 9 a.m.-noon in all U.S. time zones. "This year, more than ever, it's really important that we still have something for everybody to tune into on Thanksgiving morning."
U.S. hospitalizations for Covid-19 reached a record 88,000 on Wednesday, and experts warn that Thanksgiving could significantly boost a death toll that has exceeded 260,000 nationwide.