Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced on Monday afternoon that he had invited his 89-year-old mother, Matilda, and two of his daughters to celebrate Thanksgiving with him this week in Albany – after warning New Yorkers that Thanksgiving gatherings could be dangerous and to reconsider their plans to help stem the coronavirus, The New York Post reports.
He said during a radio interview on Monday that two of his daughters and his elderly mother would be celebrating the holiday in Albany.
“My mom is going to come up and two of my girls – is the current plan,” Cuomo said. “But the plans change, but that’s my plan. But I’m going to work – I have a lot of work to do between now and Thanksgiving.”
His plans to celebrate with his mom were surprising when just a week before the had governor described having difficult discussions about the holiday with his mom, who wanted to spend it with him and her other children, The New York Post reported.
“I have a conversation with my mother about Thanksgiving, several conversations about Thanksgiving. [She said] ‘We have to get together for Thanksgiving.’ Mom, we can’t get together for Thanksgiving,” he said.
Cuomo has been begging New Yorkers to spend the holiday alone.
“My personal advice is you don’t have family gatherings — even for Thanksgiving,” he said during a conference call with reporters Wednesday.
The next day, the governor urged: “This year, if you love someone, it is better and safer to stay away.”
At one of his press briefings Monday, Cuomo had warned that Thanksgiving this year was about “life and death,” before offering up a story about how his daughter Mariah, 25, cried to him over the phone about making the tough decision to stay put in Chicago, as per The Post.
“We go through all the logic and we decide she’s not going to come home for Thanksgiving and then she starts to cry and she said ‘I feel so bad… I was looking forward to seeing you and I can’t get there,’” Cuomo recalled.
“Those of you who have children know when your child cries it kills you. You feel pain worse than they feel pain,” he said.
The governor’s youngest, 22-year-old Michaela, then reminded him that “this is not a normal Thanksgiving. This is a special Thanksgiving… because it’s more powerful and it’s more meaningful and it’s not just about the commercialization and the toppings,” Cuomo said.
Both Michaela, 22, and Mariah’s twin Cara are expected to be home for the holiday.
Cuomo later posted on Twitter about how “hard” it was that Mariah won’t be joining the family, but that he couldn’t “think of a better gesture of love than to say, I’m making the tough choice to keep you & our family safe.”
Cuomo’s family celebration would have complied with his own order limiting gatherings at private residences to no more than 10 people, however it would have gone against guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which suggest the “safest way to celebrate Thanksgiving is to celebrate at home with the people you live with.”
The age of his mother and the idea that he would still proceed with a holiday dinner angered people online.
Republican New York Rep. Elise Stefanik, tweeted, “This is one of the many reasons why Cuomo is the WORST Governor in America.”
“His arrogance and hypocrisy knows no bounds.”
Councilman Joe Borelli (R-Staten Island) told The Post, “The governor lives in an alternate reality.”
“Four family members, plus his police detail, cooks, caterers, cleaners, assistants and staff. If these outsiders can come to the governor’s mansion for Thanksgiving, as they do on a daily basis, in and out, then it’s quite another thing to tell New Yorkers their Aunt Tilly cannot,” the Republican said.
Following the backlash, Cuomo’s office issued a statement hours later clarifying “plans have changed” and he will actually now be working through Turkey Day.
“As the Governor said, he had been discussing seeing his mother with two of his daughters for a four person Thanksgiving in accordance with all state issued guidance, but as he also said the plans were still changing,” Cuomo senior advisor Rich Azzopardi said.
“Given the current circumstances with COVID, he will have to work through Thanksgiving and will not be seeing them. Don’t tell his mom — she doesn’t know yet.”