Foss: Officials must practice what they preach

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is shown during a press conference last month. (NYS Office of the Governor)
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Gov. Andrew Cuomo is shown during a press conference last month. (NYS Office of the Governor)

My mother still asks me to make out a Christmas list, but it gets harder and harder to come up with a list of gifts to request with each passing year. 

This year, I drew a complete blank. 

What did I want for Christmas? Nothing my mother can give me. An end to the pandemic and a return to normal. Nothing my mother can give me. 

Now that Thanksgiving has come and gone, I’d add another item to the list. 

As the holiday season ramps up, I want to see public officials do a better job of following their own COVID-19-related guidance and mandates. 

Too often, the very people telling us to social distance, wear masks, stay home and eschew traveling and family get-togethers fail to heed their own advice. It’s been a problem throughout the pandemic, and the list of politicians behaving as if the rules don’t apply to them appears to be growing. 

Some examples, from the month of November: 

— California Gov. Gavin Newsom violated his state’s COVID-19 restrictions by attending a birthday party at a fancy restaurant with more than three households in attendance. The soiree occurred “at the same time that he and his administration were warning Californians not to gather with their own families during Thanksgiving,” the Los Angeles Times observed.

— Denver Mayor Michael Hancock asked residents to host virtual Thanksgiving gatherings and “avoid travel, if you can,” but flew to Mississippi to visit his wife and daughter for Thanksgiving. 

Hancock apologized, then offered up this head-scratching statement: “As the holiday approached, I decided it would be safer for me to travel to see [my wife and daughter] than to have two family members travel back to Denver.” Umm, there is a third option, one Hancock was quick to offer his constituents: host a virtual gathering and stay home. 

—  New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced in a radio interview last week that he planned to spend Thanksgiving with his 89-year-old mother and two daughters in Albany, prompting an immediate backlash. 

The governor shelved those plans, but the outcry wasn’t surprising, given Cuomo’s numerous warnings about the dangers of Thanksgiving gatherings. At one point, he said he hoped New Yorkers would use the holiday to honor those affected by the pandemic, saying “we’re going to be alone physically but we are spiritually together celebrating in a way that is even deeper than just the proximate location of sitting next to someone.” 

To be clear, I think people should wear masks, social distance and avoid unnecessary travel.

COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths are all rising, and we must once again change our behavior and take precautions to flatten the curve and get the pandemic back under control. The situation is bleak, which makes it all the more important for public officials to practice what they preach. 

December will no doubt provide plenty of opportunities for hypocritical politicians to ignore the COVID-19 rules they expect the rest of us to follow.  

Let’s hope they do a better job of modeling the behavior they wish to see in their constituents as Christmas approaches. 

Reach Sara Foss at [email protected]. Opinions expressed here are her own and not necessarily the newspaper’s.

Categories: -The Daily Gazette, News, Sara Foss

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