California Mayor to Hand Over Duties After Comparing Trump Voters to KKK 'Out of Frustration' Over Coronavirus Response

A mayor in California will step down from his role after receiving criticism for comparing President Donald Trump supporters to the Ku Klux Klan and saying the world "would be a better place" if the president was dead.

Dr. Bill Kirby, a physician who serves as the mayor of Auburn, has confirmed he will hand over his duties for the remainder of the year to Councilman Daniel Berlant at the next city council meeting, scheduled for April 27.

Kirby has been criticized after screenshots from his personal Facebook page emerged showing him criticizing Trump's response to the coronavirus outbreak.

Kirby shared a meme on April 5 of a KKK member wearing a full white robe alongside the words: "Good news for Trump supporters is that most of them already have masks," in reference to the masks health workers and members of the public have been wearing to try and protect themselves from the virus.

Kirby posted the picture and added the comment: "True."

In a separate comment, Kirby wrote: "If Hitler and everyone who supported him was removed from the face of the earth in 1939 the world would be a much better place.

"The same is more true of trump and his supporters today."

The posts were discussed at a council meeting in which Kirby confirmed he will be handing over the reins following the outcry. Emails and voicemails from Auburn citizens were presented during the meeting, which both condemned and defended the mayor.

In a statement at the start of the meeting, Kirby said the comments "were meant to be private and made out of frustration," over the Trump administration's response to the outbreak of the virus.

"I am very saddened and disappointed with the line that was crossed in many of those comments, Berlant said. "Wishing death upon anybody, whether it be an adversary, whether it be deserved or not, from a city council member or elected official is unacceptable."

Berlant and other council members also demanded a public apology from Kirby for taking the focus away from the city's attempts to deal with the coronavirus outbreak.

During the meeting, Kirby said his comments were "over the top."

Speaking to the Auburn Journal, Kirby said the comments on his personal Facebook page about Trump and his supporters had "nothing to do with [his] job," adding he thinks Trump "is a racist, absolutely."

In a statement to CBS 13, Kirby said: "I have spent 40 years of my life dedicated to serving Auburn as a physician and through my volunteer efforts.

"Some people have viewed my posts, which were meant to be private and made out of frustration, as over the top. Some were and I regret that.

"I want to share with you where my frustrations have come from. As a doctor, I see nurses, respiratory therapists, other medical staff, first responders and my medical colleagues, as well as their patients, dying unnecessarily because of the lack of preparation for the coronavirus. The president has put us all at risk.

"I believe history will judge those who stood up against damaging policies and ideologies and those that did not."

According to Johns Hopkins University, the U.S. has by far the highest number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the world, with more than 582,000. There have been more than 23,000 deaths, with a total of 44,308 people recovering from the virus.

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President Donald Trump speaks during the daily briefing on the novel coronavirus, which causes COVID-19, in the Brady Briefing Room at the White House on April 13, 2020, in Washington, DC. MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Advice on Using Face Coverings to Slow Spread of COVID-19

  • CDC recommends wearing a cloth face covering in public where social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.
  • A simple cloth face covering can help slow the spread of the virus by those infected and by those who do not exhibit symptoms.
  • Cloth face coverings can be fashioned from household items. Guides are offered by the CDC. (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/diy-cloth-face-coverings.html)
  • Cloth face coverings should be washed regularly. A washing machine will suffice.
  • Practice safe removal of face coverings by not touching eyes, nose, and mouth, and wash hands immediately after removing the covering.

World Health Organization advice for avoiding spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19)

Hygiene advice

  • Clean hands frequently with soap and water, or alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Wash hands after coughing or sneezing; when caring for the sick; before, during and after food preparation; before eating; after using the toilet; when hands are visibly dirty; and after handling animals or waste.
  • Maintain at least 1 meter (3 feet) distance from anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
  • Avoid touching your hands, nose and mouth. Do not spit in public.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or bent elbow when coughing or sneezing. Discard the tissue immediately and clean your hands.

Medical advice

  • Avoid close contact with others if you have any symptoms.
  • Stay at home if you feel unwell, even with mild symptoms such as headache and runny nose, to avoid potential spread of the disease to medical facilities and other people.
  • If you develop serious symptoms (fever, cough, difficulty breathing) seek medical care early and contact local health authorities in advance.
  • Note any recent contact with others and travel details to provide to authorities who can trace and prevent spread of the disease.
  • Stay up to date on COVID-19 developments issued by health authorities and follow their guidance.

Mask and glove usage

  • Healthy individuals only need to wear a mask if taking care of a sick person.
  • Wear a mask if you are coughing or sneezing.
  • Masks are effective when used in combination with frequent hand cleaning.
  • Do not touch the mask while wearing it. Clean hands if you touch the mask.
  • Learn how to properly put on, remove and dispose of masks. Clean hands after disposing of the mask.
  • Do not reuse single-use masks.
  • Regularly washing bare hands is more effective against catching COVID-19 than wearing rubber gloves.
  • The COVID-19 virus can still be picked up on rubber gloves and transmitted by touching your face.