AUSTIN (KXAN) — Austin Mayor Steve Adler told KXAN he regrets traveling to Mexico with his family earlier this month as he urged residents to stay home to slow the spread of COVID-19.
Adler issued a statement in response to a report by the Austin American-Statesman that he attended an outdoor wedding for his daughter on Nov. 8 and then traveled by private plane to the family’s timeshare in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico with seven other family members.
“I regret this travel. I wouldn’t travel now, didn’t over Thanksgiving and won’t over Christmas. But my fear is that this travel, even having happened during a safer period, could be used by some as justification for risky behavior. In hindsight, and even though it violated no order, it set a bad example for which I apologize,” Adler said in the statement.
On Nov. 9, Adler posted a pre-recorded video update regarding the coronavirus pandemic, this time from a different location than his typical home office setting.
“The numbers are going up,” Adler said in the video while warning that Austin could face the dire challenges being experienced in El Paso if changes aren’t made. “This is not the time to relax… We may have to close things down if we’re not careful.”
While Adler said he traveled during a “safer period,” Austin-Travis County Health Authority extended emergency orders on Nov. 10, the day after he reportedly left for Mexico.
In a press release, Interim Health Authority Dr. Mark Escott warned of a “worsening situation.”
“Yesterday we reported the highest number of new cases since September. We are up over 140 percent in a little over a month, and 60 percent in the past week,” Escott said. “A significantly worsening situation here in Travis County from COVID-19 transmission.”
New of Adler’s travel was first reported on Wednesday afternoon, as Adler was participating in a webinar discussion with the Texas Restaurant Association.
Emily Williams Knight, the president and CEO of the association, responded on Twitter during the webinar using the hashtag “#terribleleadership.”
Representatives from the Texas Restaurant Association asked Adler to support local restaurants that have been hard hit by the pandemic. He said he has encouraged family units to support restaurants.
“My daughter did a wedding the first week of May and I’m about to spend the next 24 hours defending that,” Adler joked.
It’s unclear what event Adler was referring to in May, since reports claim Adler’s daughter was married on Nov. 8. KXAN is waiting for clarification from the mayor’s office.
KXAN will continue to update this developing story as we learn more.