San Jose mayor says sorry for COVID exposure
San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo speaks on the expiration of the zero bail policy on July 27, 2022. Photo by Jana Kadah.

San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo has tested positive for COVID-19, one day after he shook hands and spoke closely to a dozen people.

“Mayor Liccardo began experiencing symptoms (Thursday) afternoon, and tested immediately,” Esmeralda Bautista, spokesperson for Liccardo, told San José Spotlight. “He learned he was positive and immediately left City Hall.”

The positive test comes a day after Liccardo held a news conference to talk about the expiration of pandemic-era jail policies. He was joined by two business leaders and nearly a dozen members of the media. He and the speakers wore masks, but took them off when speaking. It is not clear if anyone has tested positive as a result.

Liccardo took to Twitter to apologize for exposing the people he interacted with over the last week.

“Symptoms are minor, with intermittent grumpiness,” the mayor said in a tweet. “My apologies to anyone I might have exposed in recent hours or days—please test and follow CDC guidelines.”

This isn’t the first time Liccardo has caught COVID. He first tested positive for COVID on May 23, an announcement that came three days after he was seen maskless at Game 2 of the NBA Western Conference finals at the Chase Center in San Francisco. The mayor was there to present a military commendation during halftime of the playoff game between the Golden State Warriors and Dallas Mavericks.

On the same day he tested positive in May, Liccardo had held a press conference with San Jose Police Chief Anthony Mata and City Manager Jennifer Maguire to call for investigation into police handling of employees accused of sexual misconduct.

Liccardo was previously under fire for violating COVID-19 restrictions by having dinner with his extended family on Thanksgiving 2020, but did not test positive.

The mayor’s positive test comes as Santa Clara County recovers from a recent uptick in cases from the contagious omicron subvariant BA.5. The seven-day rolling average is 864 infections, down from earlier this month, when the average was 1,569 and the hospitalization rate was at 233 patients—the highest since the first wave of omicron infections in January.

More than 86% of Santa Clara County residents are vaccinated and 68% of residents above the age of five are boosted, according to the county’s COVID dashboard.

There is also an additional COVID vaccine coming to Santa Clara County soon that may be more amenable to those who remain unvaccinated. The two-dose shot, produced by Maryland drugmaker Novavax, is the nation’s first so-called protein COVID vaccine, unlike Pfizer and Moderna which use an mRNA-based approach.

Liccardo’s spokesperson said the mayor is sorry for exposing reporters and others the day before he tested positive.

“The mayor felt fine during the press conference, and he apologizes to any reporters who he may have inadvertently exposed,” Bautista said.

Contact Jana Kadah at [email protected] or @Jana_Kadah on Twitter.

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