On Thanksgiving Day, President-elect Joe Biden and his wife Dr. Jill Biden wished the country a happy holiday, while noting the grief the coronavirus pandemic has brought for many Americans.
“This Thanksgiving, tables throughout our country will have an empty chair,” the Bidens wrote in an op-ed for CNN published Thursday morning. “Still, like you, our family will hold on to our most important tradition: taking a moment to count the many reasons we have to be grateful.”
As of Thursday morning, the United States has confirmed over 12,780,000 cases and over 262,000 deaths from COVID-19, according to the Johns Hopkins University coronavirus resource center.
Despite warnings from the government-run Centers for Disease Control, millions of Americans have flown around the country to join family for the holiday. Experts expect to see a surge in coronavirus cases, which have already reached record highs in the U.S. this month.
On Wednesday, Biden urged Americans to “steel our spines” against the surging pandemic but assured them that “America is not going to lose this war.”
Biden added in the pre-Thanksgiving address to the nation, “There’s real hope, so hang on. This will not last forever.”
He said the first vaccines against the coronavirus may be available by the end of December and vowed to “get the entire country immunized as soon as we can.”
Biden urged Americans to restrict their holiday festivities, saying that throughout his life, he has been accustomed to large family gatherings on Thanksgiving. But this year, he said, he is spending the holiday with only first lady-to-be Jill Biden, their daughter Ashley and her husband, Howard Krein.
In both his Wednesday speech and his op-ed Thursday morning, Biden recalled his own journey with grief, speaking of his first holidays without his son Beau, who died of brain cancer in 2015.
Biden won the November 3 election over President Donald Trump, who is continuing his long-shot legal efforts to upend Biden’s victory.