President Donald Trump urged Americans to “gather” for Thanksgiving — even as the coronavirus pandemic continues to ravage the U.S., with hospitalizations rising and the daily death toll often surpassing 2,000.
“I encourage all Americans to gather, in homes and places of worship, to offer a prayer of thanks to God for our many blessings,” Trump said at the end of the annual presidential Thanksgiving proclamation released by the White House on Wednesday.
Trump’s words flout the COVID-19 safety advice issued by his own government. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has advised people via its website that “the safest way to celebrate Thanksgiving is to celebrate at home with the people you live with.”
“Gatherings with family and friends who do not live with you can increase the chances of getting or spreading COVID-19 or the flu,” the CDC notes.
Trump’s message also stands in stark contrast to an op-ed penned for CNN by President-elect Joe Biden and future first lady Jill Biden that takes note of the sacrifices that people have been asked to make this year in their celebrations. The Bidens note, “Our turkey will be smaller and the clatter of cooking a little quieter. There will be no family walks in the cold or playful bickering amongst the grandkids. Like millions of Americans, we are temporarily letting go of the traditions we can’t do safely.”
Adm. Brett Giroir, the Trump administration’s own COVID-19 testing czar, on Wednesday warned the country is at “a critical and very dangerous part of this pandemic.”
On Wednesday, the U.S. reported 181,490 new COVID-19 cases and 2,297 deaths. The disease has killed more than 262,000 Americans and sickened at least 12.7 million.
Dr. James Phillips, chief of disaster medicine at George Washington University Hospital, condemned Trump’s proclamation in an interview Wednesday on CNN.
“As an emergency physician who’s on the frontlines every day over the last two weeks have seen more and more Covid in our emergency departments, it’s a slap in the face,” he said.
The failure of Trump to mention the recommended safety protocols in the proclamation should come as no surprise ― for months he intentionally misled the public on the risks of COVID-19.
He publicly downplayed the threat of the virus, even as in private he acknowledged its danger. Trump also touted unproven treatments, at one point suggesting the injection of disinfectant as a cure, and routinely refused to wear a mask before ending up hospitalized for three days in early October after contracting the virus himself.
Trump’s campaign rallies, where his maskless supporters stood closely side by side, are thought to have helped spread the virus nationwide — and an election night party held in the White House has been described as a super-spreader event after multiple attendees later tested positive for the contagion.
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