Biden asks Americans to ‘forgo’ holiday traditions amid coronavirus

Biden says it’s the ‘patriotic duty’ of Americans to help slow the spread of the virus

President-elect Joe Biden is calling for unity in the fight to combat the coronavirus pandemic and urging Americans to “forgo” some Thanksgiving traditions and celebrate the holiday at home.

Biden, in an address to the nation on the eve of Thanksgiving, said each American has “a responsibility” to help slow the spread of the coronavirus and asked people to “hang on” and not “surrender to fatigue” from the worst pandemic to strike the globe in a century.

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The president-elect spoke amid a surge in the pandemic – with more than 260,000 deaths and nearly 13 million cases since the outbreak first swept across the nation in February and March.

President-elect Joe Biden speaks Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2020, in Wilmington, Del. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

President-elect Joe Biden speaks Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2020, in Wilmington, Del. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Biden, giving an address Wednesday from his hometown of Wilmington, Del., noted that “our country’s in the middle of a dramatic spike in cases. We’re now averaging 160,000 new cases a day” and warned once again that Americans are facing “a long, hard, winter.”

Pointing to the deep partisan divisions over the pandemic, Biden said that “it’s divided us, angered us, set us against one another. I know the country has grown weary of the fight. We need to remember – we’re at war with the virus, not one another, not with each other.”

And he stressed that “this is the moment where we need to steel our spines, redouble our efforts and recommit ourselves to the fight. Let’s remember, we’re all in this together.”

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Biden highlighted the promise of vaccines that will soon be reaching Americans but noted that “we still have months of this battle ahead of us.”

“There’s real hope, tangible hope, so hang on,” Biden said as he asked Americans to do their part “to try and slow the growth of the virus.” He highlighted that “it’s literally our patriotic duty as Americans” to wear a mask, practice social distancing and limit the size of gatherings with other people.

“The federal government can’t do this alone,” Biden acknowledged. “Each of us has a responsibility in our own lives to do what we can do to slow the virus. Every decision we make matters. Every decision we make can save lives.”

Speaking on the eve of Thanksgiving, Biden emphasized that “this year we’re asking Americans to forgo so many of the traditions” that go along with the holiday.

“This year we’ll be staying home. We’ve always had big family gatherings at Thanksgiving. Kids, grandkids, aunts, uncles, brothers, sisters and more,” the former vice president said. “But this year because we care so much for each other, we’re going to be having a separate Thanksgiving.”

Despite a recommendation from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to stay home over Thanksgiving, millions of Americans appear to be traveling with friends and family over the holiday.

Biden – whose eldest son Beau died in 2015 from brain cancer and whose first wife Neilia and 13-month-old daughter Amy died in a car crash nearly 50 years ago – also spoke directly to the millions of Americans who’ve lost friends or family to the coronavirus.

“For those who’ve lost a loved one, I know that this time of year can be especially difficult,” Biden said. “Believe me, I know. I remember that first Thanksgiving – that empty chair. It takes your breath away. … I’ll be praying for each and every one of you.”

Fox News' Madeleine Rivera contributed to this report

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