Governors across the nation have taken steps to curb the spread of the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19), including ordering people to wear masks and asking them to maintain strict social distancing. However, two Democratic governors have recently been caught flouting their own rules.
Governors caught breaking their own rules
In Virginia, Gov. Ralph Northam recently announced an executive order compelling people to wear face coverings over their mouths and noses while using public transportation, shopping in stores or going to any other indoor spaces where people congregate. However, even as Northam announced the order, photos surfaced online showing him not wearing a mask and not observing social distancing guidelines. (Related: Virginia reports highest number of new coronavirus cases – state’s reopening plans delayed in Northern Virginia, Accomack County and City of Richmond.)
“Science shows that face coverings are an effective way to prevent transmission of the virus, but wearing them is also a sign of respect,” said Northam in a statement announcing the new mask-wearing policy on May 26.
At a press conference on the same day, however, Northam was asked about photos that have been circulating online that show him standing close to three people at the beach, posing for a selfie. Another photo shows him at the Virginia Beach boardwalk, also surrounded by people while not wearing a mask.
Meanwhile, in New Mexico, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham was criticized for a jewelry purchase she made from an Albuquerque store after she had ordered all non-essential businesses to close in April.
The jewelry purchase was first reported by Albuquerque television station KRQE. According to the station, Lujan Grisham called an employee at Lilly Barrack in April and bought jewelry over the phone. Management later claimed that the employee went to the store, picked out the jewelry and placed it outside the store’s door, where someone the governor knew picked it up.
Northam apologizes but Lujan Grisham claims no wrong was done
In response to the photos, Northam apologized for his behavior. He said that he was “on my way to talk with the reporters, some well-wishers came up to me and asked to take pictures. I was not prepared because my mask was in the car. I take full responsibility for that.”
“In the future when I’m out in the public, I will be better prepared. We’re all forming new habits and routines, and we’re all adjusting to this new normal,” he added.
Neither Lujan Grisham nor her office, however, offered an apology. According to the latter, the purchase was done remotely and the goods were collected via curbside pickup – something that wasn’t allowed in the state until May. Despite this, the governor’s office claims no rules were broken.
“The store was never ‘opened’ and a good safe process was followed,” said spokeswoman Nora Meyers Sackett. “An employee of the store left the merchandise outside her home and a personal friend of the governor’s went there to pick it up.?”
Critics have called Grisham’s behavior hypocritical.
On May 30, the New Mexico Republican Party posted a tweet that said Lujan Grisham was refusing to “answer to New Mexicans” and accused her of considering herself “above the law.”
The governor won’t answer to New Mexicans why she considers herself to be above the law. While business owners and families suffered under her public health order, she was buying jewelry.https://t.co/rSrgpabY7E
— New Mexico GOP (@NewMexicoGOP) May 30, 2020
“This was really disgraceful, especially since so many people have been hurting for so long,” said state Republican Party chairman Steve Pearce to The Associated Press.
When asked by the Associated Press about the purchase, the governor’s office did not say whether or not Lujan Grisham received special treatment. Instead, the office stated that she made the purchase in her capacity as a private citizen and using her own money.
As of reporting time, New Mexico has 7,800 reported cases and 362 deaths from the coronavirus according to data from the state’s Department of Health.
Learn more about the Wuhan coronavirus at Pandemic.news.