Milpitas Mayor Rich Tran allegedly attended Tuesday evening’s city council meeting without alerting his council colleagues that he had been exposed to COVID-19 last week.
On Monday evening, an individual believed to be the owner of The G, a cocktail bar on South Main Street, commented on the mayor’s Facebook page that the bar had 15 confirmed cases of COVID-19 –– with 7 of the cases in fully vaccinated individuals.
“You were at my business on Wednesday and Thursday,” the individual wrote. “Both of the people that were serving you are positive for Covid. I tested negative on Wednesday when I saw you. Got a cough Friday and found out Saturday that I’m actually positive.”
The individual went on to say that someone who the mayor was conversing with outside also tested positive. On Wednesday morning, a sign could be seen outside The G alerting patrons that the bar was closed due to a COVID-19 outbreak.
Tran confirmed that he was at The G last Wednesday and Thursday. However, he denied that he was exposed to COVID-19. Tran claims that the owner told him at the time that they were safe to be open. He added that his monthly karaoke with the mayor event, which is usually held at The G, was canceled last week because the DJ was unavailable.
“They want to see me positive,” Tran told The Beat of his political rivals. “I’m really disappointed that people are trying to use my everyday being out in public to sort of criminalize me.”
The mayor said he took a COVID-19 test yesterday and this morning, and both returned negative results. The G did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Councilwoman Karina Dominguez, who found out about the potential exposure from people who’d been at the bar, said she has requested the City move back to remote meetings –– especially as COVID-19 cases in Santa Clara County continue to rise.
The August 17 meeting was only the second in-person meeting the council has held since the start of the pandemic.
Dominguez said that City employees and councilmembers are required to report to the human resources department if they’ve had a known COVID-19 exposure in the last two weeks. She believes the mayor failed to do just that.
“He failed to communicate this very information to many of us and potentially put our lives at risk,” she said. “I believe we as leaders shouldn’t act like that. We need to level up and do better.”
The councilmember added that she also had to pay for a hotel to quarantine at because she lives with her parents.
“For me, my mom is high risk, and I’ve worked really hard and follow protocol in my day job to not bring anything to my house that could expose my mom, who’s vulnerable, and could kill her.”
Since Tran’s alleged exposure, he’s been seen at at least two community events –– one of which he was not wearing a mask at.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended last month that vaccinated people wear masks indoors in areas with substantial or high transmission in light of the delta variant.
According to the CDC’s website, the transmission of COVID-19 in Santa Clara County is high. As of August 18, the seven-day average of new cases is 315, and the positive test rate is 3.3 percent –– up more than one percent from the month prior.
Vice Mayor Carmen Montano and Councilwoman Evelyn Chua could not immediately be reached for comment. Councilman Anthony Phan declined to comment. A spokesperson for the City also declined to comment, deferring to Tran.