DENVER, CO — Denver Mayor Michael Hancock has come under fire after he flew to visit his family Wednesday.
The mayor has urged Denverites to stay home as coronavirus rates climb in the city.
Hancock flew to Houston ahead of Thanksgiving to visit his family in Mississippi, his office confirmed.
"Stay home as much as you can," Hancock tweeted Wednesday morning. "Host virtual gatherings instead of in-person dinners."
Denver has seen a record number of coronavirus cases over the past several weeks, and the city is under "Level Red - Extreme Risk" on the state's COVID-19 dial, which means nobody is permitted to gather with others who are outside their household.
"I'm asking, I'm urging, I'm pleading with everyone — please stay home," Hancock said during a virtual news conference Friday. "Please only go out for essential services."
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After hearing the news of the mayor's travel, hundreds of people criticized the mayor in social media posts.
Hancock issued the following statement Wednesday afternoon in response:
“I fully acknowledge that I have urged everyone to stay home and avoid unnecessary travel. I have shared how my family cancelled our plans for our traditional multi-household Thanksgiving celebration. What I did not share, but should have, is that my wife and my 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.
“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. 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.”
This is the last time Denver needs to hear public health guidance from Mayor Hancock. If the city has a leader who actually follows the advice they give the public, we’ll put them on instead. https://t.co/tTLcFgkZdK
— Kyle Clark (@KyleClark) November 25, 2020