Austin mayor criticized for recording stay home message while vacationing in Cabo

Austin mayor facing public scrutiny after going against his own guidance

A screenshot of Steve Adler as he addressed the public on Nov. 9, 2020. (Copyright 2020 by KSAT - All rights reserved.)

AUSTIN – Austin Mayor Steve Adler has come under public scrutiny for going against his own guidance regarding traveling during the coronavirus pandemic.

In a prerecorded message to the public posted on Facebook at 7 p.m. on Nov. 9, Adler talked about the consequences of Austinites failing to do their part in slowing the spread of COVID-19.

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Posted by Austin Mayor Steve Adler on Monday, November 9, 2020

But Adler failed to take his own medicine.

According to a report from KVUE, an Austin television station, Adler recorded the message while vacationing in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.

The trip followed an outdoor wedding and reception with 20 guests for his daughter at a hotel near downtown Austin. At the time, the city was under Stage 3 guidelines recommending gatherings of no more than 10 people, KVUE reported.

Two days after the wedding, Adler boarded a private jet with seven of the wedding attendees and vacationed at a family timeshare in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.

Adler told KVUE’s Tony Plohetski that neither the wedding nor the international travel broke his own orders or those established by Gov. Greg Abbott.

Adler told the TV station that his family put hours of consideration into how to hold the wedding and vacation as safely as possible and even consulted with Dr. Mark Escott, the county’s interim health director, prior to the wedding.

The Austin-American Statesman reported that Alder didn’t believe he took a COVID-19 test upon returning to Austin, but that he “generally quarantined.”

The week after the trip, Austin health officials raised the city’s alert level to Stage 4 with a recommendation that people avoid travel and gatherings outside their own household, KVUE reported.

Adler released the following statement on Wednesday:

“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.”

After KVUE’s story was published, he released a second statement apologizing for the travel:

“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.”

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About the Authors:

Jakob Rodriguez is a digital journalist at KSAT 12. He's a graduate of Texas State University, where he served as the editor-in-chief of the student-run newspaper, The University Star.

Julie Moreno has worked in local television news for more than 25 years. She came to KSAT as a news producer in 2000. After producing thousands of newscasts, she transitioned to the digital team in 2015. She writes on a wide variety of topics from breaking news to trending stories and manages KSAT’s daily digital content strategy.