NEW YORK — Mayor-elect Eric Adams will head to Ghana Monday evening for a “spiritual journey” he likened to President Barack Obama’s excursion there in 2009, despite a worsening Covid-19 outbreak around the globe.
“My ancestors came over here in the bottom of slave ships,” Adams told reporters Monday, following an unrelated event in Brooklyn. “And 400 years later, I’m the mayor of one of the most important cities in New York.
“I’m going there to pray. I’m going there to do some spiritual cleansing that’s there,” he added. “The people of Ghana, just like Obama when he ran for president, they’re waiting for me to go.”
Spokesperson Evan Thies said the incoming New York mayor will return from his overseas vacation on Dec. 8, and described it as a family trip without government or political staff.
Just hours before Adams confirmed his trip, which was first reported by the New York Post, he joined outgoing Mayor Bill de Blasio for a City Hall briefing about concerns related to the Omicron variant, which he called “a critical moment in our war with Covid-19.” The two also spoke at length Sunday night about the city’s handling of the pandemic.
“How we choose to respond as a city — we show our resolve against this virus to each other and to the rest of the globe. I think the globe is watching New York,” Adams said as he Zoomed into the press conference.
The Omicron variant was first detected in South Africa but has spread quickly into Europe and has also been detected in Canada. The Biden administration on Monday began imposing bans on travel from eight counties in southern Africa. The ban does not apply to U.S. citizens, and Ghana is not on the list.
Adams, who will be the second Black man to serve as mayor of New York, said he received his Covid-19 booster shot a few days ago and encouraged New Yorkers to follow suit. He also promised to continue de Blasio’s “playbook” on vaccines — though, in the final days of the election, Adams pointedly distanced himself from the sitting mayor’s threat of financial penalties for municipal workers refusing to get vaccinated.
By the time a reporter asked about his upcoming travel plans, Adams had already left the call. De Blasio simply said he should be vaccinated and Health Commissioner Dave Chokshi advised him to get tested before and after his trip and wear a face mask in flight.
The upcoming vacation marks at least the third time Adams has traveled abroad since winning the Democratic primary in June. He vacationed in August in the swanky French Riviera destination of Monaco and headed to the Dominican Republic earlier this month, following a political conference in Puerto Rico. He said he paid for the latter trip out of pocket, but POLITICO subsequently reported he was flown to San Juan on the private jet of crypto-billionaire Brock Pierce. Thies said Adams covered his own flight through a travel agent, but declined to provide a receipt.
Adams vowed to keep up the pace of his transition appointments during his travels, ensuring he is nearly ready to announce two of the most important positions in the administration — schools chancellor and police commissioner.
As he left the event, someone asked him if he had any fears. He responded: “I’m not afraid of anything. I’m an ex-cop. I’m ready to lead my city.”
Erin Durkin contributed to this report.