Austin’s mayor told people to stay home. He was vacationing in Cabo after hosting his daughter’s wedding.

When the number of new coronavirus cases in Texas began to rise in early November, the mayor of Austin urged residents to avoid socializing and traveling, especially as the holiday season approached.

“We need to stay home if you can,” Democratic Mayor Steve Adler said in a Nov. 9 video. “We need to try to keep those numbers down. This is not the time to relax.”

Days before he offered that warning, Adler had hosted at a downtown hotel for his daughter and about 20 guests. Then, he and eight wedding guests took a private jet to Cabo San Lucas, where they stayed together in a timeshare.

After the Austin American-Statesman first reported Adler’s trip, which he had not previously disclosed to the public, the mayor apologized Wednesday for taking the trip to Mexico and setting a poor example as coronavirus cases spiked across Texas.

“I regret that travel,” Adler said in a video he posted to Facebook on Wednesday evening. “I wouldn’t travel now, I didn’t over Thanksgiving, and I won’t over Christmas. And no one should.”

His mea culpa is the latest in a string of apologies from public officials across the U.S. this week, after several city and state leaders have been caught flouting their own coronavirus warnings by dining out and attending parties after issuing guidance discouraging the public from doing those same activities.

Texas broke the nationwide record for new coronavirus cases reported in a day about two weeks after Adler posted the Nov. 9 video, when it reported 16,100 new cases on Nov. 25, about 1,000 more than the previous record. (California reported 18,350 new cases that same day, also breaking the previous record.)

Some areas of the Lone Star State have been hit harder than others. Near the border with Mexico and New Mexico, El Paso has resorted to airlifting patients to other cities as its hospitals have been overwhelmed with critically ill people. The state paid prisoners to move hundreds of bodies to mobile morgues in the city, then it deployed National Guardsmen to help.

More on the COVID-19 pandemic

As of early Thursday, more than 9,000 people are hospitalized with COVID in Texas.

Yet even as the numbers mount, officials in the state have been inconsistent in enacting and enforcing coronavirus restrictions.

El Paso County Judge Ricardo Samaniego, a Democrat, ordered a shutdown of the hard-hit city, but El Paso Mayor Dee Margo and the Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, both Republicans, challenged the legality of those restrictions.

Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott declared last month that he would not institute a statewide shutdown, even as cases spiked. He has issued a statewide executive order allowing restaurants to reopen at 75 percent capacity and allowed bars to partially resume business with permission from local county leaders. Even where bars have been ordered closed by county officials, many have kept their doors open under a loophole that allows them to be classified as restaurants if they serve food and alcohol sales account

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What were Austin’s COVID-19 numbers like when Mayor Adler hosted his daughter’s wedding?

Data shows local COVID-19 cases and hospital admissions were ticking up in the days leading up to Adler’s daughter’s wedding and the Mexico vacation that followed.

AUSTIN, Texas — The KVUE Defenders have confirmed that in early November, Austin Mayor Steve Adler hosted his daughter’s wedding in Austin, then vacationed to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, with a group of eight people, including immediate and extended family.

Both the wedding and the vacation happened just as top health officials began urging families not to gather with others outside their households, and Adler himself asked people to stay home if they could. 

Adler confirmed that the wedding and reception – held on Nov. 7 at Hotel Saint Cecilia on South Congress Avenue – had 20 guests in attendance. At the time, the city was under Stage 3 guidelines, which suggest no gatherings of more than 10 people.

WATCH: Amid COVID-19, Austin mayor says ‘stay home’ in video recorded on vacation in Mexico


KVUE dug into Austin’s COVID-19 numbers in the days leading up to the wedding and in the weeks that followed.

In late October, Austin was averaging a little less than 90 new COVID-19 cases per day. To start November, that number climbed to the mid-90s. By the day of the wedding, the city was averaging up to around 125 cases.

By comparison, that number rose to 300 a few days before Thanksgiving.

As for hospital admissions – the metric that the City’s guidelines are based on – that number was under 20 and falling at the end of October. But hospital admissions quickly started climbing to 25 by the day of the wedding and continued increasing to 37 by Thanksgiving.

Below is the graph for the hospital admissions average on Nov. 7, the day of the wedding:

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