President TrumpDonald John TrumpUSAID administrator tests positive for COVID-19 Kamala Harris, Stacey Abrams among nominees for Time magazine's 2020 Person of the Year DOJ appeals ruling preventing it from replacing Trump in E. Jean Carroll defamation lawsuit MORE issued a proclamation encouraging Americans to gather “in homes and places of worship” ahead of Thanksgiving, even as his successor and public health officials have urged people to practice social distancing and avoid large gatherings during the holidays to curb the spread of COVID-19.
“I encourage all Americans to gather, in homes and places of worship, to offer a prayer of thanks to God for our many blessings,” he said in the proclamation, which is custom for presidents to issue marking holidays, on Wednesday.
The comments from the White House come as public health experts have advised Americans to stay home amid a nationwide surge in coronavirus cases and warnings that the pandemic could get much worse during the holiday season.
Earlier this month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advised against attending crowded parades, large indoor gatherings and crowded stores in an effort to slow the outbreak. The agency also advised against traveling last week as cases rise nationwide.
“As we're seeing exponential growth in cases, and the opportunity to translocate disease or infection from one part of the country to another, leads to our recommendation to avoid travel at this time,” Henry Walke, COVID-19 incident manager at the CDC, said last week, adding people should only spend the holiday with people that reside in their household.
“Postponing travel and staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others this year,” the agency also said in guidance this month.
Anthony FauciAnthony FauciKamala Harris, Stacey Abrams among nominees for Time magazine's 2020 Person of the Year Overnight Health Care: Biden team to begin getting COVID briefings | Fauci says he would 'absolutely' serve on Biden's COVID task force | Major glove factories close after thousands test positive for COVID-19 Fauci says he would 'absolutely' serve on a Biden coronavirus task force MORE, the country’s top infectious diseases expert who helped lead the federal government’s response to the pandemic earlier this year, has warned about the risks posed by social gatherings ahead of Thanksgiving.
“I think given the fluid and dynamic nature of what's going on right now in the spread and the uptick of infections, I think people should be very careful and prudent about social gatherings, particularly when members of the family might be at a risk because of their age or their underlying condition,” he told CBS News in a recent interview.
“Namely, you may have to bite the bullet and sacrifice that social gathering unless you're pretty certain that the people that you're dealing with are not infected,” he said, also adding: “My Thanksgiving is going to look very different this year.”
President-elect Joe BidenJoe BidenHarris says she has 'not yet' spoken to Pence Kamala Harris, Stacey Abrams among nominees for Time magazine's 2020 Person of the Year Obama: Republican Party members believe 'white males are victims' MORE has also urged the country to adhere to guidelines from the top health agency and public health experts for Thanksgiving.
“There is real hope, tangible hope. So hang on. Don’t let yourself surrender to the fatigue,” he said Wednesday. “I know we can and we will beat this virus. America is not going to lose this war. You will get your lives back. Life is going to return to normal. That will happen. This will not last forever.”
At the same time, the White House has largely been silent on health precautions for Thanksgiving and hasn't done much to promote the holiday guidance from the CDC.