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Denver mayor flies to another city for Thanksgiving after telling residents to ‘avoid travel’

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Derek Draplin | The Center Square

(The Center Square) – Denver Mayor Michael Hancock took a flight to Houston on his way to visit family on Wednesday, despite urging residents to avoid traveling for the holidays, Denver’s 9News reported.

Hancock's flight was about 30 minutes after his Twitter account tweeted that residents in Colorado’s largest city should “avoid travel, if you can,” according to 9News

The tweet, which was accompanied by a graphic, also recommended that people “host virtual gatherings instead of in-person dinners.”

COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations have increased in recent weeks, both in Denver and across the state and country, as health officials have warned that holiday gatherings could lead to more spikes. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended last week that people avoid traveling for Thanksgiving. 

"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," a statement from Hancock’s office said, according to 9News. "Upon return, he will follow all necessary health and safety guidance and quarantine."  

In an email obtained by 9News, Hancock told city employees “to refrain from travel this Thanksgiving holiday. For my family that means cancelling our traditional gathering of our extended family.” 

Denver City Council President Stacie Filmore said in a statement she expects “the mayor will follow and comply with the directives he issued to all City of Denver employees and quarantine for 14 days upon his return.”

Denver is currently at a red “severe risk” level for COVID-19, a designation that requires restaurants and bars to close dine-in services and restricts gyms to 10% capacity. Private gatherings are also limited to people of the same household in counties designated as level red.

The county has a 7-day test positivity rate of 9.3%, with 22,600 total COVID-19 cases and 517 deaths, according to Denver Public Health.