Denver mayor tells residents to ‘avoid travel’ for Thanksgiving – then boards flight for a family gathering moments later
Denver Mayor Michael Hancock has issued a lengthy apology after calling on city residents to stay home for Thanksgiving to avoid spreading the coronavirus, yet hitched a flight out of the state less than an hour later.
“Pass the potatoes, not Covid,” Hancock said in a tweet on Wednesday morning, urging Denverites to “stay at home as much as you can” and “avoid travel” for the holiday, among other recommendations amid the health crisis.
About 30 minutes after the tweet, however, Hancock boarded a plane bound for Mississippi, where he would spend Thanksgiving with family – directly at odds with the advice dispensed from his Twitter handle just moments earlier – according to a local NBC affiliate.
As news of his travel plans made the rounds, the mayor felt it necessary to pen a mea culpa, posted in the form of five tweets, explaining his decision to leave the state to meet with his wife and daughter.
“I fully acknowledge that I have urged everyone to stay home and avoid unnecessary travel,” he said, adding that while his family had cancelled a “multi-household Thanksgiving celebration,” they made an alternative plan for a stripped down gathering which he had declined to share with the public.
I recognize that my decision has disappointed many who believe it would have been better to spend Thanksgiving alone. As a public official, whose conduct is rightly scrutinized for the message it sends to others, I apologize to the residents of Denver who see my decision as conflicting with the guidance to stay at home for all but essential travel.
The apology did little to tamp down the outrage, as netizens – including self-avowed supporters – blasted the Democratic mayor for hypocrisy and imposing rules on others that he isn’t willing to follow himself.
“So could you possibly explain WHY your travel was ‘essential’ but other people's isn't?” one commenter asked. “Is their family somehow less important than yours? Or is it simply your wealth, power, and privilege once again sh***ing on others?”
State Representative and fellow Democrat Kyle Mullica echoed that criticism, saying elected officials must strive to “lead by example” and that Hancock’s decision “impacts all of us trying to do the right thing.”
A city employee also weighed in, noting that he was not only “urged,” but required, to undergo a two-week quarantine should he travel out of state, demanding to know if Hancock would do the same when he returned to Denver. A spokesperson for the mayor has since clarified that he would indeed quarantine.
As of Wednesday, Denver has tallied nearly 34,000 coronavirus infections and just shy of 500 deaths, making it among the worst-affected areas in Colorado. Earlier this week, Governor Jared Polis warned that the city is seeing a spike in its outbreak, with one in 41 Denver residents currently carrying the virus, the highest number since the pandemic began. Colorado as a whole, meanwhile, has reported over 210,000 cases of the illness and some 2,900 deaths, as the national infection count approaches 12.8 million, with over 261,000 fatalities.
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