DENVER — Denver Mayor Michael Hancock flew to Mississippi Wednesday to have Thanksgiving with his wife and daughter at his daughter's home after pleading with Denverites not to travel for the holiday if possible.
On Wednesday morning, Mike Strott, deputy communications director with the Office of the Mayor, confirmed that Hancock had left the state to celebrate the holiday.
"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," Strott said in a statement. "Upon return, he will follow all necessary health and safety guidance and quarantine."
Hancock's trip comes at a time when more Coloradans than ever before are contagious with COVID-19. About one in 41 Coloradans are contagious with the coronavirus, up from one in 49 last week and a large increase from an estimated one in 110 in recent weeks, health officials said in a Tuesday press conference.
The trip also goes against the recommendations from the CDC, who has advised Americans not to travel for the Thanksgiving holiday.
On Wednesday morning, Hancock said on Scripps station KMGH in Denver that his constituents should try and celebrate the holiday with those in their own households, of possible. He added that those who do travel should "do what we've always been asking throughout the entire experience: Wear a mask, social distance and wash your hands."
On Wednesday morning, Hancock's posted a tweet emphasizing the importance of staying at home as much as possible and avoiding travel.
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
The Denver Department of Public Safety issued a message on Monday from Executive Director Murphy Robinson.
"Rising COVID cases require all of us to take additional precautions and for many, that means sharing a Thanksgiving meal with loved ones virtually instead of in person," Robinson said. "These are tough times and we are all weary of all the limitations this pandemic is placing on our lives. Unfortunately, we now find ourselves in the midst of the largest surge in cases we've seen so far and trends indicate it will get worse before it gets better."
Hancock started urging Denverites to rethink their Thanksgiving plans in early November.
"We're not going to sit here and tell you that Thanksgiving is canceled in Denver. It is not," Hancock said during a Nov. 6 press conference. "But I'm going to urge everyone to think differently about Thanksgiving this year."
In a Nov. 20 press conference, Hancock said his family had chosen to celebrate Thanksgiving differently this year.
"So please, I urge everyone: Maybe get a small turkey this year and celebrate with just the host you live with," he said. "And after the meal, as we're gonna do, Zoom with your extended family — all your friends, everyone that you meet, and tell them that you look forward to seeing them real soon, and that maybe next year, maybe next year, we can all be together again."
He said he was "asking, I'm urging, I'm pleading" with everybody to stay home.
"Stay home, maybe put out holiday decorations, but stay home," he said.
According to Colorado's COVID-19 website, the best way to celebrate Thanksgiving and keep family safe is to catch up via computer or phone instead of visiting them.
"Staying home and celebrating with your immediate household, or celebrating with friends and family virtually, is the best way to protect yourself and your loved ones this year," the state's website reads.
This story was originally published by Stephanie Butzer on KMGH in Denver.