Michael Hancock, the Democratic mayor of Denver, Colorado, ignored his own warnings about traveling for Thanksgiving amidst the coronavirus pandemic to fly out of the city to celebrate the holiday with his family.
Minutes before he boarded his flight, Hancock took to Twitter to warn people to “Pass the potatoes, not COVID,” and advised them to “Host virtual gatherings instead of in-person dinners” and “Avoid travel, if you can.”
Pass the potatoes, not COVID.
?️Stay home as much as you can, especially if you're sick.
?Host virtual gatherings instead of in-person dinners.
❌Avoid travel, if you can.
?Order your holiday meal from a local eatery.
?Shop online with a small business for #BlackFriday. pic.twitter.com/acQpWs2Ism
— Michael B. Hancock ? (@MayorHancock) November 25, 2020
Ignoring his own warning, Hancock first flew to Houston, Texas before taking another flight to Mississippi to meet his wife and daughter for Thanksgiving, according to NBC 9 News.
A spokesperson for the mayor issued the following brief statement:
“As he has shared, the mayor is not hosting his traditional large family dinner this year, but instead traveling alone to join his wife and daughter where the three of them will celebrate Thanksgiving at her residence instead of having them travel back to Denver.”
“Upon return, he will follow all necessary health and safety guidance and quarantine,” the statement added.
However, it has since been revealed that Hancock sent an email to his own staffers earlier this month telling them not to travel. He added that anyone who does travel must then quarantine for fourteen days if they leave the state, saying that they will need to use their own paid leave if their position does not allow them to work from home.
“[A]s the holidays approach, we all long to be with our families in person, but with the continued rise in cases, I’m urging you to refrain from travel this Thanksgiving holiday,” Hancock wrote in an email, according to Fox News. “For my family that means canceling our traditional gathering of our extended family.”
Data from Johns Hopkins University shows that Denver has had the highest number of coronavirus cases of anywhere in Colorado, with nearly 34,000 people having contracted the virus and just over 500 deaths since the start of the pandemic.
Colorado Gov. Jared Polis (D) spoke out on Wednesday to say that he had not talked to Hancock about his Thanksgiving plans. He added that he had cancelled his own family’s Thanksgiving plans to “set example as governor.”