One Texas teacher who spent months fighting COVID complications after her diagnosis called on Austin Mayor Steve Adler to his hypocritical vacation in Mexico last month and declared that a good leader should “lead by example.
Speaking in a video on November 9, when a surge of coronavirus cases was seen in Texas, Adler posted a video on his Facebook page urging residents to stay home and avoid travel.
Just days before the video was released, however, the Democratic mayor held an outdoor wedding and reception for his daughter with about 20 guests at a hotel in Austin, the Austin American-Statesman reported on Wednesday. Adler and eight other wedding guests then took a private jet to Cabo San Lucas in Mexico, where he recorded the video.
“We need to stay home if you can,” Adler said in the clip. “We must try to keep the number of wedding guests down. This is not the time to relax.”
Miranda Erlanson, a 27-year-old teacher from Austin’s independent school district, said she was disappointed with Adler’s leadership after his vacation, KVUE reported.
“I don’t think you can be a leader unless you set a good example,” Erlanson said in a video message. “We must put our selfishness aside. We all want to get out of our homes. That’s what we want, but if we do, we will make someone end up like me.
Erlanson told KVUE last month that she visited the emergency room three times and was hospitalized 17 times in nine months after her COVID-19 diagnosis in March. Her symptoms temporarily subsided shortly after diagnosis, but they returned in June and became increasingly severe. She said she had no previous health complications.
“I regret this trip,” Adler said in an apology video on Wednesday evening. “I would not travel now. I did not do it over Thanksgiving and I will not do it over Christmas. And neither should anyone else.
“I’m afraid that the trips I have taken, which were at a safer time and followed the color-coded rules, could lead some to engage in more risky behavior now,” he continued. “I recognize that the fact that I took this trip while continuing to urge people to be cautious is confusing […] It was an error of judgment and I want you to know that I apologize.
Washington Newsday approached Adler’s office with a request for comment, but did not receive a response in time for publication.
The mayor told the American-Stateman this week that he had consulted with interim health director Dr. Mark Escott before the wedding to ensure adequate security measures were in place. However, according to the newspaper, Escott warned the public in a press conference that they should avoid meeting with the family outside their home just one day after Adler left for Cabo.
“When you go to a restaurant, go out with your family, the people who live in your household, not with family and friends outside your household, and start reducing unnecessary travel outside your home,” Escott said.
Two weeks after Adler’s first video, Texas – along with California – broke the state record for new coronavirus cases reported in a single day on November 25, with the state of Lone Star reporting 16,100 new cases. By Friday, more than 9,000 people had been hospitalized by COVID-19 throughout the state and 22,000 people had died from the virus, according to the COVID Tracking Project.
The mayor’s vacation triggered a series of criticisms from local and national politicians who called Adler for hypocritical behavior in social media. This is also one of several recent examples of politicians going against their own advice and restrictions regarding COVID.
Last month, California Governor Gavin Newsom faced close scrutiny after attending a 12-person dinner party at a restaurant in Napa Valley in defiance of his own state policy, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. Newsom apologized in a November 16 statement, saying he “should have behaved better and not attended the dinner party.
The following evening, San Francisco London Breed attended a birthday party for eight people at the same restaurant, just days before all indoor dining in the city was suspended, the Chronicle reported. L.A. County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl ate outdoors at a restaurant in Santa Monica just hours after she voted to ban outdoor eating in her district.
Last month, Steve Chirico, the mayor of Naperville, Illinois, pushed for a local mask mandate to deal with a flood of cases. A week later, his niece called on him via social media to attend a maskless wedding in Naples, Florida, with over 50 guests. In a statement reported by the Chicago Tribune, Chirico said that upon his return to Naperville he would be “quarantined and tested again.