Andrew Cuomo/Instagram From left: Matilda and Andrew Cuomo
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo's office says he is now going to be too busy to host some of his family for Thanksgiving, after his holiday plans drew backlash.
Cuomo, 62, had said during a radio interview on Monday that his mother, 89-year-old Matilda, and two of his three daughters were planning to travel to his home in Albany, New York, to have an in-person dinner.
“My mom is going to come up and two of my girls, is the current plan,” Cuomo told local WAMC radio. “The plans change, but that’s my plan.”
Criticism soon built on social media, as the Democratic governor had repeatedly stressed the risk of mixing households for a Thanksgiving meal during the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. (Health officials recommend against large gatherings of people who don't live together, particularly indoors and particularly in areas with surging cases.)
Last week, Cuomo tweeted a PSA that said "the safest way to celebrate Thanksgiving this year is with those in your immediate household. Spread thanks, not COVID."
He was slammed as hypocritical.
“You’ve GOT to be kidding me,” The View co-host Meghan McCain responded on Twitter.
“His arrogance and hypocrisy knows no bounds,” tweeted New York Rep. Elise Stefanik, a Republican. “Do as I say, not as I do.”
An aide soon told reporters that, indeed, Cuomo's plans had changed.
"As the governor said, ‘the story is my mom is going to come up and two of my girls is the current plan, but the plans change ‘That's my plan. I'm going to work — I've got a lot of work to do between now and Thanksgiving,’ and given the current circumstances with COVID, he will have to work through Thanksgiving and will not be seeing them," said Rich Azzopardi, a senior adviser. (Azzopardi added, "Don't tell his mom — she doesn't know yet.”)
David Dee Delgado/Getty Images New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo
The increased scrutiny of Cuomo's behavior in part reflects his increased celebrity — he became one of the country's most prominent and widely praised governors in the early months of the pandemic — though he is not the only lawmaker criticized as tone-deaf.
Earlier this month, California Gov. Gavin Newsom apologized for attending a party that contradicted the "spirit of what I’m preaching all the time."
In the spring, with New York state an early epicenter of the pandemic, Cuomo drew widespread plaudits for his months of daily briefings. In October, he released a book about the experience; and he received an International Emmy award on Monday for his "leadership ... and masterful use of television to inform and calm people."
But there have been critics of Cuomo's approach, too, particularly for how he handled coronavirus patients in nursing homes (a controversy he said has been exaggerated by some in conservative media).
The dust-up with Cuomo’s Thanksgiving plans came the same day New York reported 5,911 new cases of COVID-19 and 37 more coronavirus-related deaths, according to a New York Times tracker.
The state has reported more than 606,000 cases this year and more than 33,800 deaths, the most in the U.S., though for much of the summer and early fall New York had done what many other places hadn't by lowering the infection and fatality rates.
On Monday, the governor recalled talking with his daughter Mariah and deciding she wouldn't be able to travel home from Chicago: "She said, 'I feel so bad, I feel isolated, I feel trapped.' "
“It's hard,” Cuomo tweeted. “But I can’t think of a better gesture of love than to say, I'm making the tough choice to keep you & our family safe.”