As the mayor of Denver, Michael Hancock, sent messages to social media and city staff on Wednesday, asking everyone to avoid Thanksgiving, he headed to Mississippi to celebrate the holiday with his wife and daughter.
Hancock spokesman Mike Strott confirmed that Hancock flew out of Denver Wednesday morning to spend the holiday with his wife and youngest daughter, who are already there.
This hypocrisy, first reported by 9News, is considered a forced mistake by the mayor and poses a risk of delegitimizing requests from public health officials to try to stop the spread of the rapid corona virus. Experts and officials agree.
“It’s incredibly disappointing,” Dr. Sandy Johnson, head of global health at the University of Denver, said of Hancock’s actions.
“So many people in Denver did the right thing,” Johnson added. “Unless there is a situation of compulsion that would force us to travel, it only seems hypocritical when we need leaders to lead by example.”
The news has flooded the internet extensively locally and across the country.
Mother was right: deeds speak louder than words. Especially if you’re a public leader in an epidemic and you undermine the life-saving public health message. “After travel avoidance warnings, Denver Mayor Hancock visits family for Thanksgiving” https://t.co/encqWjuCcZ
– Dr. Kathleen Bachynski (@bachyns) November 25, 2020
“Mom was right: deeds speak louder than words. Especially if you’re a public leader in an epidemic and you undermine the life-saving public health message, ”tweeted Dr. Kathleen Bachynski, an assistant professor of public health at Muhlenberg College in Pennsylvania.
Mayor Hancock must resign
– Jeremy Entwistle (@ JerEnt1) November 25, 2020
Others demanded the mayor’s resignation or questioned whether to initiate a recall petition. Hancock is serving his third term as mayor and cannot run again.
Colorado Republicans, including U.S. representatives Ken Buck and U.S. MPs Lauren Boebert, also considered social media, condemning the mayor’s actions.
– Hey Siri, what is the definition of hypocrisy? Buck tweeted.
Hey Siri, what is the definition of hypocrisy? https://t.co/o9ymkxS3hj
– Ken Buck (@BuckForColorado) November 25, 2020
Strott said the mayor did not believe his actions would contradict what he had asked Denver.
The mayor usually hosts a family dinner for 50 on Thanksgiving, while this year in Mississippi he spends the holiday just like one in three at the table. The rest of the family connects electronically.
“(Hancock) told people to rethink their Thanksgiving plans. He also said that if he travels to comply with health and safety guidelines, he will continue to comply with health and safety guidelines when the mayor returns, ”Strott said.
But Wednesday morning, Hancock tweeted the public health recommendations, which included avoiding unnecessary travel. He also sent a reminder to city staff that The Denver Post had obtained.
Pass the potatoes, not COVID.
?️ Stay home as much as you can, especially if you are sick.
Virtual Virtual gatherings instead of personal dinners.
A Avoid traveling if you can.
?Order your festive meal from a local restaurant.
HopShop for online small business #Black Friday. pic.twitter.com/acQpWs2Ism
– Michael B. Hancock (@MayorHancock) November 25, 2020
“As the holidays approach, we all desire to be with our family in person, but due to the ever-increasing number of cases, I ask you to refrain from traveling on this Thanksgiving holiday,” the memorandum states.
Colorado is experiencing a third wave of coronavirus, which state experts say will kill at least 2,000 people by the end of December. The state has imposed stricter restrictions in the counties of the state, trying to avoid another home order that would ruin the local economy. Exhausted health professionals are forcing hospitals to run out of space.
“The mayor’s behavior,” do as I say, but not the way I do, “sets an irresponsible and bad example for urban workers,” said Lisa Calderon, chief of staff to councilor Candi CdeBaca. “He should have given up his plans just as much as the thousands of Denver residents who are doing everything they can to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.”
Counselor Chris Hinds tweeted that he spends this Thanksgiving day only with his dog, Porthos.
Full Disclosure: My Thanksgiving plans stay at home in Denver. My household is just me and Councildog Porthos in Denver, and we plan to only contact each other.
– Chris Hinds Denver City Council (@ DenverPerfect10) November 25, 2020
Neither state nor Denver public health officials responded immediately to the message of how Coloradans are expected to follow requests that elected officials themselves do not follow.
Hancok is one of a growing number of civil servants across the country who have been spotted based on their own COVID recommendations.