The mayor of Austin, Texas, acknowledged to KVUE-TV that when he made a video last month warning residents to “stay home” to slow the coronavirus spread, he was on vacation in Mexico with family members and others.
In the warning video posted to his Facebook page Nov. 9, Mayor Steve Adler said, “We need to stay home if you can…We need to keep the numbers down. Now is not the time to relax,” the station reported.
But Adler confirmed to KVUE that when the video was recorded, he was on vacation in Cabo San Lucas with eight people, including immediate and extended family, after flying from Austin on a private jet.
Here’s the clip:
Two days earlier, Adler hosted a wedding and reception at an Austin hotel for his daughter with 20 guests, the station said, adding that the city at the time was under Stage 3 guidelines, which suggest no gatherings of more than 10 people.
More from KVUE:
Adler told KVUE Senior Reporter Tony Plohetski that he did not violate his own order or orders by Gov. Greg Abbott and took multiple steps to ensure the safety of his guests, including rapid COVID-19 testing.
But the private actions are from a public official who has been front and center urging Austinites to take COVID-19 precautions — and he even did so while he was out of the country.
Adler also told the station he consulted with Austin’s top health authority — Dr. Mark Escott — and the event was held outdoors, guests had to maintain social distancing and had to have received a COVID-19 test prior to attending, and the bride and groom gave out masks.
But KVUE said several wedding attendees flew to Austin from across the U.S., including a Seattle-based wedding photographer.
“It’s not perfect,” Adler told the station in an interview this week. “Obviously there are infections that could happen. But what we did was stay compliant with the rules.”
Then eight wedding attendees — including Adler and immediate and extended family members — jetted off to Cabo, KVUE said. They stayed for a week at a family timeshare, the Statesman reported.
The station added that the day after Adler & Co. departed, Escott issued a public warning: “If you are going to go out to a restaurant, go out with your family, the people who live in your household, not the family or friends who don’t live in your household. And start to decrease those travels outside of your home that are not necessary.”
But the week after Adler returned, KVUE said COVID-19 cases spiked — and on Nov. 19 the city raised the threat level to Stage 4, with recommendations against travel and gathering with people outside of your household.
Adler released a statement Wednesday, the station said:
“Every day since March, I repeat that being home is the safest place for people to be. Only at our most trying moments, like around Thanksgiving, have I asked people not to travel as part of extra precautions. Several weeks ago, when my daughter cancelled her planned wedding to replace it with a COVID appropriate more private ceremony and when my family traveled, we consulted with health authorities and worked hard to model the kind of behavior I’ve asked of the community. We were in a lower risk “Yellow” level than now. It is always safest to stay home. However, we aren’t asking people never to venture out. We ask everyone to be as safe as possible in what they do. My family and I are no exception and we’ll continue to do as I ask of our community. During Thanksgiving and as anticipated for Christmas and the New Year, we should all be especially mindful.”
While Adler holds a nonpartisan office, he endorsed Democrat Hillary Clinton for president in 2016 as well as Democrats Pete Buttigieg and Joe Biden over the course of the most recent presidential campaign.