DENVER Mayor Michael Hancock flew to Mississippi to spend Thanksgiving with his wife and daughter despite telling his constituents to avoid traveling for the holiday.
Hancock faced a number of outcries from his constituents calling foul at his push for residents of Denver to remain in the city to stop the spread of the coronavirus – despite he himself flying to Mississippi.
After backlash for his decision to ignore his own requests, Hancock asked the residents of Denver – which has seen a record spike in the number of Covid-19 cases – for forgiveness.
“I recognize that my decision has disappointed many who believe it would have been better to spend Thanksgiving alone,” Hancock said.
“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,” Hancock continued.
“I made my decision as a husband and father, and for those who are angry and disappointed, I humbly ask you to forgive decisions that are borne of my heart and not my head,” he ended.
Hancock’s apology mentioned that he “shared how my family cancelled our plans for our traditional multi-household Thanksgiving celebration,” but still, says “I fully acknowledge that I have urged everyone to stay home and avoid unnecessary travel.”
He goes further to explaining his circumstances, saying his wife and daughter “have been in Mississippi, where my daughter recently took a job. As the holiday approached, I decided it would be safer for me to travel to see them than to have two family members travel back to Denver.”
Just hours earlier, he tweeted an infographic and advocated for people to “Pass the potatoes, not COVID,” and to “avoid travel if you can.”
Still, the apology was not enough for some of the Democratic mayor’s critics.
“That is incredibly disappointing,” said the University of Denver’s school of global health affairs head Dr. Sandy Johnson. “So many folks in the city of Denver have been doing the right thing.”
“Unless there is some family emergency compelling the travel this just seems hypocritical at a time when we need leaders to lead by example,” Johnson added.
State Representative Kyle Mullica said Hancock’s actions come at the direct cost of the scientific community pushing for people to stay home.
“I don’t expect people to be perfect,” Mullica, who is a nurse, said. “But I think there is an expectation that you essentially try to practice what you preach.”
Colorado Governor Jared Polis said he hadn’t spoken with Hancock about his holiday plans – but said he would only be spending Thanksgiving with his four-person family.
“That’s because we care deeply about our extended family and I haven’t seen my parents in nine months and that’s very hard,” Polis said. “Not only do I want to set the example as governor, of course, but frankly this is what we do because we love our family.”
Others spoke more directly to the mayor, like Denver City Council President Stacie Gilmore who said she expects Hancock “will follow and comply with the directives he issued to all City of Denver employees and quarantine for 14 days upon his return.”
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“While we all miss the ability to see our friends and family during the holidays, travel is strongly discouraged by all the leading health experts,” Gilmore added. “The most recent health order from the State of Colorado asks that travel be limited to ‘necessary travel’ for critical government and business purposes only.”
“I strongly encourage all Denver residents to stay home for the holidays,” she ended. “Protect yourselves and the people you care about by continuing to diligently follow all safety guidelines.”
Over 20 counties in Colorado moved to Level Red restrictions, including Denver, due to the Covid-19 pandemic after cases saw an all-time peak of over 5,500 daily brand new cases on November 18.