AURORA, Colo. — Aurora Mayor Mike Coffman is under fire for not wearing a mask and coming to work sick in the days before he tested positive for COVID-19 in late October.
In an email obtained by Denver7 Investigates, an employee who works in the mayor’s office raised concerns about Coffman’s lack of safety precautions while working in City Hall.
The city staff member wrote out a detailed timeline of her exposure to Coffman, before he tested positive for the virus, in an email which was sent to Human Resources on Oct. 30.
She called the mayor’s actions "a health and city policy violation.”
The employee wrote that on Oct. 19 that “Mayor Coffman’s cough was considerably worse” and “the mayor did not wear a mask” on numerous occasions.
She noticed him shivering on Oct. 22, and he was sent home, “Because he obviously was sick”
Three days later, Mayor Coffman announced in a tweet that he had COVID-19.
To close her email, the employee wrote that she was angry with the mayor as he came to work despite signs around the office clearly indicating that people should stay home if they are sick. She noted that Coffman knew of the dangers of COVID and yet still came in and didn’t wear his mask consistently, despite previously supporting a mask mandate publicly.
“This was incredibly inconsiderate, disrespectful and dangerous,” she wrote.
Coffman isn’t the first mayor to take heat for not following COVID protocols. Denver Mayor Michael Hancock urged people not to travel for Thanksgiving, and then flew across the country to visit his family.
Aurora City Councilwoman Alison Coombs reviewed the email obtained by Denver7 Investigates. She called the mayor’s actions irresponsible and said he put other people’s health at risk.
“(It’s) concerning and disturbing and very understandable that the staff member was as upset as she was about what had happened,” Coombs said. “I think that the mayor didn’t seem to be taking it seriously.”
Coombs said she also believes Coffman violated city policy.
“Our staff, I think, would face — as was said in the email — would face some kind of discipline if they were to do that," Coombs said. "It is really concerning.”
Aurora’s Human Resources Director responded to the employee's email. She wrote, “the Mayor will be specifically reminded of the requirement and his responsibility to wear a mask, social distance and not coming to work sick.”
Coffman declined Denver7’s request for an interview. He said, in a lengthy statement, “While I’m sure there were times when I forgot my mask at my desk or held brief, distanced conversations without it, these were unintended mistakes and I apologize if anyone felt at risk because of them.”
Denver7 asked the mayor to specifically address the concerns about coming to work sick. He state: “When I recognized that I was experiencing unusual symptoms, I left the office, followed up with my doctor and followed public health guidelines on quarantining.”
For Coombs, she said it’s another example of “Do as I say, and not as I do,” among elected leaders.
“I think it’s deeply concerning how many of our political figures seem to not show a real concern or a sense that they’re bound to the same standards with respect to COVID protections,” she said.
Aurora Mayor Mike Coffman’s full statement:
“Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, I have been an advocate for the public health guidelines to prevent the spread of the virus and was an early proponent of a face-covering mandate. While I’m sure there were times when I forgot my mask at my desk or held brief, distanced conversations without it, these were unintended mistakes and I apologize if anyone felt at risk because of them. This is a serious, deadly virus, and although we can see a potential day when the threat will be minimized, we are not there yet. As Governor Polis and public health experts have requested of those who can, I continue to work from home as much as possible. I encourage everyone, including myself, to remain vigilant and steadfast in keeping each other and our community safe.”