Dec 3, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Politicians come under fire for flouting COVID-19 rules

Gavin Newsom.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom. Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Public officials across the U.S. are issuing new stay-at-home orders while urging Americans to practice social distancing, as coronavirus infections surge at an alarming pace.

Yes, but: A growing list of politicians have come under fire for shirking (at times, their own) restrictions and advisories aimed at preventing viral spread.

Driving the news: Austin Mayor Steve Adler hosted an outdoor wedding with 20 guests for his daughter in November, The Austin American-Statesman reported on Wednesday. He then went on vacation to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. From there, Adler urged his constituents to "stay home if you can" in a video posted on Facebook.

  • Adler told the newspaper that he didn't violate state or local restrictions by hosting the wedding or taking the trip. But the city of Austin was at the time recommending people not gather in groups of more than 10, per the Statesman.

Adler is not the only elected official accused of taking a "do as I say, not as I do" approach to managing the pandemic.

  • Los Angeles County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl saw protesters gather outside her home on Tuesday after she dined outdoors following a vote to ban outside restaurant service in her district.
  • San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo on Tuesday acknowledged flouting restrictions to gather with eight family members from five different households. Present state regulations limit household gatherings to three people.
  • Denver Mayor Michael Hancock apologized in late November for flying to Mississippi to visit family during Thanksgiving, despite telling Denverites to avoid travel over the holiday.
  • California Gov. Gavin Newsom faced backlash after he attended a dinner with at least 12 people to celebrate a friend and adviser's birthday.
  • Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio have all faced similar criticisms throughout the pandemic.

For the record: The White House and Georgia Republicans have continued to host large, indoor gatherings while arguing against restricting events that pose heightened risk.

  • President Trump and many people in his circle contracted the virus earlier this fall, after the president and others were seen at a celebration in the White House's Rose Garden to introduce then-Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett.

Be smart: There's ample evidence indicating that social distancing works to prevent the spread of the virus.

  • But lawmakers send a "mixed message" when they defy the rules, said NIAID director Anthony Fauci during a press conference with Colorado Gov. Jared Polis on Tuesday.
  • It "is not only not helpful, it can actually be detrimental," Fauci added.

Go deeper: What to know about social distancing

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