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President-elect Biden urges Americans to have hope amid Covid surge, Trump pardons Flynn and last minute Thanksgiving tips

In a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court blocked coronavirus restrictions on religious services in New York.
Image: A balloon depicting Red Titan, a character from \"Ryan's World\", is seen of ahead of the 94th Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade closed to the spectators due to the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Manhattan
A balloon depicting Red Titan, a character from "Ryan's World," is seen on Thursday of ahead of the 94th Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade which is closed to spectators this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.Andrew Kelly / Reuters

Good morning, NBC News readers.

Happy Thanksgiving. We know it's different this year, but hope that you can find a way to celebrate this day of gratitude in a safe and healthy way. And we thank you, as always, for spending your mornings with us.

Here is what we're watching on this last Thursday in November.

'Hang on': President-elect Biden calls for hope and unity on Thanksgiving amid Covid-19 spike

President-elect Joe Biden said Wednesday that the country is facing a "long hard winter" because of the coronavirus pandemic but called for Americans to unify in their fight against the virus.

"There's real hope, tangible hope, so hang on," Biden said in a pre-Thanksgiving address from Wilmington, Delaware, noting that Covid-19 vaccines will start being deployed in December.

Until then, Biden asked Americans not to give into their understandable virus fatigue, and instead redouble their efforts to combat the virus with social distancing, good hygiene and masks.

"I know we can beat this virus. America is not going to lose this war," he said while offering sympathy to the families of the more than 260,00 people in the U.S. who have died from Covid-19 this year.

While Biden was speaking, President Donald Trump phoned into a gathering of Republican state legislators in Pennsylvania and claimed voter fraud — once again providing no evidence to prove his various allegations.

Supreme Court blocks NY from enforcing Covid-19 limits on religious services

The U.S. Supreme Court issued an injunction late Wednesday blocking New York’s governor from enforcing coronavirus occupancy limits on religious institutions, granting a request from the Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn and Agudath Israel.

The state had told the court there was no need to act because the restrictions, which were adopted as a way to try to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, had recently been dialed back.

In a 5-4 decision, the court said the restrictions would violate religious freedom and are not neutral because they "single out houses of worship for especially harsh treatment."

The decision comes on the heels of New York City issuing a a $15,000 fine to a Brooklyn synagogue for violating coronavirus restrictions after a video surfaced showing a massive secret wedding.

The wedding was held earlier this month as New York, and every other state across the country, grappled with a rise in Covid-19 cases.

Trump pardons Michael Flynn, who twice pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI

President Donald Trump said Wednesday that he had granted a "full pardon" to his former national security adviser Michael Flynn, who twice pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI.

The move had long been expected after Trump said in March he was "strongly considering" pardoning Flynn, who initially cooperated with special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election before contending that he had been railroaded by prosecutors who were unfairly targeting Trump.

The White House seized on that narrative as proof that Trump was the victim of a "hoax" investigation.

It's Thanksgiving and turkey will be served

Despite the pandemic, travel restrictions and a recession, it's Thanksgiving Day and Americans are observing the traditional holiday in new ways.

With the nation’s top public health officials urging people not to travel or hold large gatherings so they don't contribute to the spread of Covid-19, many are going for smaller gatherings with just their immediate household.

For many, that still means a turkey on the table, even if fewer people are around it.

Turkey farmers across the country have been making adjustments since the summer anticipating the demand for smaller birds this year.

"It's a grand-looking bird," said Aaron Bell, an eighth-generation farmer running Tide Mill Organic Farm in Edmunds, Maine, who changed his farming methods to raise smaller birds months ago. "It's just a tradition that's been a long time in the making, and it's not going anywhere."

Still some are scaling things down and opting for "a plate at the door and some elbow bumps."

One way or the other, we hope you end it with something sweet. What's your favorite Thanksgiving dessert?

One writer who loves pumpkin pie makes their case for the orange delight, while another gives an homage to the classic apple pie. What's your call? Vote here.

Oh and the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade will be different this year — but not that much if you usually watch it on TV. NBC will be broadcasting it live from 9 a.m. ET.

And if you are still searching for any last minute tips, here is our Thanksgiving survival guide.

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THINK about it

This Thanksgiving, my son is showing me how to be thankful despite the world's hypocrisies, reporter Sam Thielman writes in an opinion piece.


For many seniors, today is going to be a tough day celebrating solo. Mental health experts share tips for how to keep feelings of loneliness at bay.

Listen up

We've got two good new podcasts for you to listen to over the long weekend.

Make sure to listen to our latest Modern Ruhles podcast. In the latest episode, MSNBC anchor and NBC News Senior Business Correspondent Stephanie Ruhle discusses the unholy alliance threatening America's Covid-19 vaccine.

In the latest Into America episode, host Trymaine Lee explores the Black American culinary tradition and its impact on Thanksgiving meals.


We've rounded up the best Black Friday deals for you.

Quote of the day

"We're at war with a virus. Not with one another."

President-elect Joe Biden said during a pre-Thanksgiving address on Wednesday.

One fun thing

As the U.S. celebrates Thanksgiving during such a difficult year, we hear from Americans who say they still have many reasons to be thankful.

Thanks for reading the Morning Rundown. Hope you have a lovely Thanksgiving Day.

If you have any comments — likes, dislikes — send me an email at:

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Thanks, Petra