I don’t know Mecklenburg County, North Carolina Manager Dena Diorio, but I have to imagine in any other year, being mentioned in the same breath as California Gov. Gavin Newsom would probably have made her day.
It’s 2020, however, and you know what that means: Diorio is a local official who wants you to follow strict COVID guidelines she’s not particularly keen on following herself.
According to WFAE-FM, Diorio was one of numerous officials in Mecklenburg County — home to Charlotte — urging residents to stay at home this Christmas.
Preferably with members of your own family, 16 feet apart and wearing masks and Snuggies. I made most of that up, but you could read between the lines and tell that was the context.
“For this holiday season, we ask that you stay home and only be around those who you live with,” she said at a media briefing Monday.
She added that COVID-19 was “very widespread” in the area. Holiday gatherings, she said, are “some of the most dangerous places to be.”
When asked about her plans for Christmas, however, she admitted she would neither be staying home nor limiting her interactions to the people she lives with. Instead, she’d be in one of “the most dangerous places to be.”
Queried about her holiday plans, Diorio told a reporter that she would be “traveling by car to Durham to see some close family, a small group.”
She was pressed about this later in the news conference: “Isn’t that what we’re not supposed to be doing, by spending only time with people that we actually live with?” a reporter asked
“I know who the family is. I know where they spend their time so I feel comfortable making that trip,” Diorio said.
“It’s two people in a household. It’s not a group. It’s a very small number of people and I feel very confident about their safety.”
“So do you recommend that for everyone?” the reporter asked.
“You said you feel comfortable with them even though you’re not with them 24/7, obviously, and most people aren’t doing that with their family, I mean, don’t live with them 24/7 either.”
“I don’t know that you can speak for most people,” Diorio said, “but I’m making a personal decision based on information that I have, and so that’s the decision that I’ve made and I think everybody needs to do the same.”
The exchange begins at roughly 30:00 through this slog of a virtual media conference.
County Manager Dena R. Diorio and Public Health Director Gibbie Harris provide an update on COVID-19 in Meck County. https://t.co/yrnHmetfcM
— Mecklenburg County (@MeckCounty) December 21, 2020
So here’s how you know that your Christmas gathering is safe:
- You know who the family is.
- It involves a small number of people.
- You’re making a “personal decision.”
- You think you know where they spend their time.
Except that could be true for everyone in Mecklenburg County. So, in short, what Diorio is really saying is that she has the kind of discernment the people who ought to be staying home for the holiday don’t have.
After all, if they had that kind of discernment, they’d be a high-ranking local official — right?
It’s not that this is anything new. There was Denver Democratic Mayor Michael Hancock, who tweeted this just 30 minutes before boarding a flight home to Mississippi for Thanksgiving:
Pass the potatoes, not COVID.
?️Stay home as much as you can, especially if you’re sick.
?Host virtual gatherings instead of in-person dinners.
❌Avoid travel, if you can.
?Order your holiday meal from a local eatery.
?Shop online with a small business for #BlackFriday. pic.twitter.com/acQpWs2Ism
— Michael B. Hancock ? (@MayorHancock) November 25, 2020
And then there’s California Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom, whose state has some of the strictest lockdown measures in the nation, yet who still found time to attend a birthday party which seemed to have no social distancing or masks last month:
EXCLUSIVE: We’ve obtained photos of Governor Gavin Newsom at the Napa dinner party he’s in hot water over. The photos call into question just how outdoors the dinner was. A witness who took photos tells us his group was so loud, the sliding doors had to be closed. 10pm on @FOXLA pic.twitter.com/gtOVEwa864
— Bill Melugin (@BillFOXLA) November 18, 2020
Of course, being in this august company would have thrilled Diorio not so long ago. Now, one guesses, she’s rueing the association.
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