A scaled-back U.S. Thanksgiving as COVID surges

Americans on Thursday celebrated a Thanksgiving Day transformed by the coronavirus pandemic, with the normally packed Macy's Day Parade in New York City limited to a socially distant TV-only spectacle and many families meeting on video for turkey dinner.

Thanksgiving, normally a day where family and friends gather in big numbers for a feast, has been upended by the coronavirus, with cases and deaths surging in recent weeks as cooler weather pushes people indoors where the virus spreads more easily.

U.S. hospitalizations of COVID-19 patients reached a record of more than 89,000 on Wednesday, and experts warn that Thanksgiving could significantly boost a death toll that has already exceeded 262,000 nationwide.

Doing it's part to control the surge, Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade - normally an event with giant character balloons that has delighted many for nearly a century - was reduced to one block, rather than 2- 1/2 miles. Spectators were prohibited from lining Manhattan streets as before -- though some could be seen gathering at barricades trying to catch a glimpse.

NAT POP -- "We decided, why not just keep the magic alive?"

Despite advice from the CDC to stay home, an estimated 6 million Americans traveled by air from last Friday to Wednesday, although that is less than half the number of travelers during the same period last year.

In the spirit of Thanksgiving - There were also socially distant acts of kindness. In Houston, Texas, officials, including the mayor, handed out a reported 20-thousand meals to those in need.

President-elect Joe Biden in his Thanksgiving Day message asked Americans not to gather in large groups, and instead give essential workers thanks for their service. "It's a personal sacrifice that each of our families can make and should make to save somebody else's life."

President Donald Trump spent the holiday playing a round of golf at his resort in Virginia, while again falsely claiming on twitter that he won the election against Joe Biden. Trump later hosted a video teleconference with members of the military wishing them a Happy holiday.