San Jose mayor apologizes for violating COVID-19 guidelines at Thanksgiving dinner
San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo is pictured in this file photo.

    San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo violated state public health regulations by attending a Thanksgiving dinner at his parents’ house alongside four other households.

    An updated state requirement issued Nov. 13 prohibits Californians from hosting private gatherings with more than three households, although it does not limit the number of people at a private gathering. The dinner Liccardo attended included eight individuals from five different households.

    “I apologize for my decision to gather contrary to state rules by attending this Thanksgiving meal with my family,” Liccardo said in a statement. “I understand my obligation as a public official to provide exemplary compliance with the public health orders, and certainly not to ignore them. I commit to do better.”

    The apology came shortly after an NBC report looked into the mayor’s Thanksgiving Day activities and discovered he went to his parents’ house instead of staying home.

    Santa Clara County is in the purple tier, the most restrictive in the state’s COVID-19 reopening plan. Among other things, it limits many indoor gatherings.

    The dinner was hosted outdoors on a back patio. Each of the three tables at the Thanksgiving dinner were also socially-distanced, according to Liccardo. He added the group wore masks when not eating.

    The group included Liccardo, his parents, his wife and his sister-in-law who have dined together six feet apart once or twice a week for the past several months as a “stable group of three households.”

    One of Liccardo’s sisters brought along her son and daughter-in-law; his brother joined late and dined separately, according to the mayor’s statement.

    “I have a very large family — I am one of five children — and several of our family members who would have often joined us for Thanksgiving in the past — including sisters, nephews, nieces, and cousins — stayed home out of caution,” Liccardo said.

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    With COVID-19 infections spiking in Santa Clara County, health officials are cracking down on local businesses who skirt safety rules and had issued 76 fines as of Nov. 27 to businesses for failing to post updated signs on social distancing.

    Santa Clara County reported 512 cases in a 24-hour period the day before Thanksgiving. On Nov. 30, officials reported 801 new cases from the past week with 48 new hospitalizations but no new deaths.

    “I am gravely concerned by the continuing surge in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations,” said Santa Clara County Health Officer Dr. Sara Cody in a Nov. 28 statement. “The number of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 in our county has doubled in just the past couple of weeks, and we are at risk of exceeding our hospital capacity very soon if current trends continue.  During this critical time of surging COVID-19 transmission in our community, I urge every resident to exercise caution and to the greatest extent possible, minimize contact with anyone outside of your immediate household.”

    Contact Carly Wipf at [email protected] or follow @CarlyChristineW on Twitter.



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