Denver mayor travels for Thanksgiving after urging people to stay home

Denver's mayor is explaining himself and offering an apology after he traveled to Mississippi for Thanksgiving, though he had urged others to stay home if possible because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Mayor Michael Hancock said he made the decision to head out of town because his wife and daughter are in Mississippi, where his 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," he said Wednesday.

Earlier in the day, the mayor tweeted public health guidance surrounding the Thanksgiving holiday that urged people to avoid travel if possible — a request the Democratic mayor acknowledged when explaining his own travel.

Hancock's travel was reported earlier Wednesday by NBC affiliate KUSA of Denver.

The mayor's trip comes as officials in Colorado have warned about a steep increase in Covid-19 cases that threatens to stress the hospital system, and after warnings from the governor and others to keep Thanksgiving gatherings small and safe.

Image: Mayor Michael Hancock (David Zalubowski / AP file)
Image: Mayor Michael Hancock (David Zalubowski / AP file)

Hancock said in the statement that his family canceled their traditional multi-household Thanksgiving celebration.

The station reported he traveled to Houston for the Mississippi trip, and that his account tweeted the guidance to stay home about 30 minutes before his flight.

"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."

It's not the first time recently that a government official has apologized or had to explain themselves for actions taken as infections rise across the United States and increased restrictions have been implemented.

Earlier this month, California Gov. Gavin Newsom apologized for attending a dinner at the French Laundry restaurant in wine country with people not in his household.

Newsom said he and his wife had been invited to a friend's 50th birthday party, it was larger than he'd anticipated and that "I made a bad mistake" and that he should have left.

"The spirit of what I'm preaching all the time was contradicted," Newsom said. He said he and his wife had only been out two other times since February and they were alone, and that "this has not been a practice I've indulged in in the past."

Also Wednesday, Colorado Gov. Jared Polis announced he will quarantine and be closely monitored after he learned he'd been exposed to someone who has tested positive for Covid-19.

Polis said that he had tested negative, but that he would be re-tested in the coming days.