Thanksgiving celebrations underway as COVID-19 surges throughout US

Millions of Americans traveled by air in the days leading up to the holiday despite warnings from the CDC. With hospitalizations on the rise in 47 states, health care workers warn it could get worse.
4:02 | 11/27/20

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Transcript for Thanksgiving celebrations underway as COVID-19 surges throughout US
celebrating a most untraditional Thanksgiving. The holiday much smaller and somber for many, colliding with the coronavirus pandemic amid an alarming rise in numbers nationwide. A sobering day for many families reflecting on 263,000 American lives lost. Roughly 2,000 deaths per day. Inspite of the warnings, more than 6 million people still traveling this holiday. The CDC is increasing its forecast to321,000 deaths by December 19th. A record high number of hospitalizations on this holiday. Nearly 90,000 patients separated from their families. Hospital workers are urging everyone to wear mas and maintain social distancing. Here's ABC's Victor Oquendo. Reporter: Tonight, Americans doing their best to celebrate Thanksgiving under the shadow of the pandemic. The Macy's Thanksgiving day parade downsized from two miles to one block. The normally packed streets of Manhattan eerily empty. Families encouraged to have smaller gatherings with their immediate household as cases exceed 170,000 per day. But people are still ignoring guidelines. The parking lot in this bar in Cincinnati packed last night. People don't understand, covid is serious. Reporter: Kate Thompson is an icu nurse in Ohio, spending her holiday in the hospital hooked up to machines to help her breathe. I just feel that it's important for people to realize that it's more than what a lot of people are making it out to be. Reporter: 6 million people flew over the six days L up to Thanksgiving, despite CDC warnings. Most of them 6 million will return home over the next three days, making airports more congested. Fears that increased travel will lead to another surge. Hospitalizations on the rise in 47 states. Breaking daily records for more than two weeks. Nearly 90,000 patients on Wednesday, pushing the health care system to the brink. I think this guy has to come down to the icu. Reporter: This is inside mercy Oklahoma hospital. Doctors here saying they used to have one death a week. Now as many as four per day. It's an overwhelming experience, it's an overwhelming problem, it's an overwhelming disease. Reporter: This Missouri doctor giving a dire demonstration of what it's like to fall victim to covid. I hope that the last moments of your life don't look like this, because this is what you'll see at the end of your life if we don't start wearing masks when we're out in public. Reporter: Deaths from the virus now topping 2,000 for two days in a row. Michelle reymer's father Jim her as a single dad. He checked into the hospital with covid pneumonia. He died two days later. His absence especially painful I will now never have another Thanksgiving, I will never have another Christmas. I will truthfully never have another memory made with the most important person in my life because of this virus. Reporter: Quinn britt spent more than four months in a San Antonio hospital battling covid. He was put on a ventilator and spent several weeks in a coma. His wife's greatest fear? He would die and we wouldn't be there with him. Reporter: This is Quinn arriving home yesterday. I'm about to walk in my house. Reporter: Getting to spend the holiday with his loved ones. It's going to be the best Thanksgiving ever. There's no doubt. Happy ending there. Victor Oquendo joins us live from Miami. And Victor, so heartwarming to sequin home for Thanksgiving with his family after more than four months in the hospital. But now, the CDC is out with a projection that's rather troubling. Tell us about that. Reporter: Linsey, that new projection is that by December 19th, there could be up to 321,000 American lives lost to the coronavirus. It's the scenes of those packed airports, so many people ignoring the warnings that has many concerned that over the next few weeks and months, the numbers could be staggering. Linsey? Victor, thank you so much.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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