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Some Democratic governors are taking heat for apparently disregarding some of the coronavirus recommendations they themselves have asked residents to abide by to limit the spread of the virus.
From Virginia to New Mexico, governors have implemented strict orders meant to curb the spread of COVID-19 that has killed more than 100,000 Americans — only to be caught flouting those guidelines in some cases.
Take the case of Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam.
Northam – who is no stranger to controversy – visited Virginia Beach alongside Mayor Bobby Dye on the second day of the beach’s reopening last weekend. Virginia Beach’s reopening is considered a test to see if people can safely follow social distancing rules before other beaches in Virginia reopen.
Northam, who previously served as an Army doctor, quickly came under fire when images of him surfaced on social media not wearing a face mask and apparently in close contact with other community members. In April, he had asked residents to consider wearing masks while out in public.
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On Monday, Northam issued an apology for going out in public and having his photo taken with constituents while not wearing a mask on during the coronavirus pandemic, saying he takes “full responsibility” for the gaffe.
“I was outside, saw people who wanted to take pictures and I wasn’t prepared,” Northam said on Monday. “I was there to talk to officials and the media. I wasn’t prepared to talk to the public.”
Along with his apology on Monday, Northam announced the new mandate requiring Virginians to wear face masks while out in public when social distancing measures cannot be enforced. The new measure is a requirement for anyone 10 years or older and is meant to stop the spread of the virus when people are inside public places like restaurants, hair salons and government buildings.
New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham is also taking flak for reportedly making a purchase from a retail jewelry store last month, at the same time she ordered many industries to temporarily close following her statewide public health order.
Grisham stressed in April that New Mexicans needed to stay home and should only leave to purchase essential items such as food and medical supplies, KRQE-TV reported.
“We are in really tough financial times as a state. It mirrors the incredible, personal sacrifices that happen every single day because people have limited their ability to work, telecommuting and many people, in fact, have lost their jobs,” she said April 3.
Days after her remarks, however, she called an employee at the Lilly Barrack jewelry shop in Albuquerque — where she has a longstanding relationship — to make a purchase over the phone, the news station reported. No one was allowed in the store at the time because of the public health order.
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Grisham spokeswoman Nora Meyers Sackett told the Albuquerque Journal that the transaction complied with the governor’s emergency public health order at the time and that she didn’t receive special treatment. A friend of Grisham’s picked up the purchased items left outside the jewelry store employee’s home, the spokeswoman added.
“There were no state guidelines broken,” Sackett said. “It was an entirely contact-free purchase.”
Curbside pickup outside stores wasn’t allowed in the state until May 1. Messages to Grisham’s office from Fox News were not immediately returned.
Republican state lawmakers accused Grisham of hypocrisy for not following her own orders.
“Our Governor is the latest Democrat to decide that the rules they impose on their citizens to address the COVID-19 pandemic don’t apply to her,” the New Mexico Republican Party tweeted Wednesday. “A bombshell report reveals that the governor violated her own stay-at-home order to stock up on some high-end jewelry.”
And then there is the case of Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, who took shots from critics after her husband reportedly dropped her name while trying to get the family’s boat put in the water in the northern part of the state.
Last week, Whitmer announced restrictions would be lifted in some regions of Northern Michigan but urged those who didn’t live in the region to stay away.
“If you don’t live in these regions … think long and hard before you take a trip into them,” she said. “A small spike could put the hospital system in dire straits pretty quickly. That’s precisely why we’re asking everyone to continue doing their part. Don’t descend on [waterfront] Traverse City from all regions of the state.”
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Whitmer and her husband own a vacation property about 25 minutes from Traverse City, according to The Detroit News, but the family permanently resides in Lansing, over 150 miles away.
Whitmer’s husband, Marc Mallory, called NorthShore Dock LLC, a company that reportedly stores the family’s boat, last week and mentioning that he is married to Whitmer in an effort to get the boat on the water soon.
Tad Dowker, the owner of NorthShore Dock LLC, told the Detroit News that his office explained it was not possible to get the boat in the water because of high demand, to which Mallory replied, “I am the husband to the governor, will this make a difference?”
Whitmer earlier this week called her husband’s comment a “failed attempt at humor.”
“My husband made a failed attempt at humor last week when checking in with a small business that helps with our boat and dock up north,” Whitmer said at a press conference Tuesday. “Knowing it wouldn’t make a difference, he jokingly asked if being married to me might move him up in the queue. Obviously with the motorized boating prohibition in our early days of COVID-19, he thought it might get a laugh. It didn’t.”
Fox News’ Morgan Phillips and Louis Casiano contributed to this report.