WASHINGTON – Three Texas House Democrats have tested positive for COVID-19 from Washington, DC, according to the leadership of the Texas House Democratic Caucus.
They are among nearly 60 lawmakers who fled the state on Monday to break the quorum in the House, as part of an effort to block passage of a GOP-led election bill. Most members stay at the same hotel.
A member found his test positive on Friday night but has no symptoms, caucus officials said. All House lawmakers were alerted and received a rapid test immediately following the member’s positive result.
Two other members tested positive in a rapid test on Saturday morning and another is showing mild symptoms, the caucus said.
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The three who tested positive on rapid tests will receive a PCR test for coronavirus, a more sensitive and accurate version of a COVID-19 test. Positive limbs will self-isolate for 10 days.
All three members are vaccinated. The caucus did not release their names.
There was a noticeable increase in the use of face coverings among lawmakers and Democratic hotel staff at their hotel on Saturday morning. Since the members arrived late Monday, the masks have been used sparingly as they moved around the lobby and held meetings across town.
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“The House Democratic Caucus follows all guidelines and protocols of the CDC,” Representative Chris Turner, Chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, said in a statement. “It’s a sober reminder that COVID is still with us, and while vaccinations offer tremendous protection, we still need to take the necessary precautions. We are in touch with public health experts in Texas to provide further advice. Our caucus will follow all recommendations from public health experts as we continue our work. ”
The delta variant, a highly contagious mutation of the coronavirus, has become the dominant strain of COVID-19 in the United States. Travis County returned to tighter restrictions on Thursday after four cases of the variant were confirmed in the Austin area.
People who have not been vaccinated remain the most at risk of contracting the coronavirus and of having more serious illness. All Texas House Democrats have been vaccinated, the caucus said. Cases of rupture among vaccinated individuals are rare but possible.
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Representative Donna Howard from Austin is a former critical care nurse and has seen a public health doctor to determine safety protocols for Democrats on the ground in Washington.
She said lawmakers followed CDC guidelines throughout their trip – which state that fully vaccinated people do not need to wear masks or practice social distancing unless the law or private regulation does require it – and they continue to follow public health guidelines now that three positive cases have emerged. in their ranks.
“We followed the CDC guidelines and what we are finding is that, as we were told, the Delta variant is more contagious and can actually infect people who are fully vaccinated,” Howard said in an interview. . “The good news is that you shouldn’t have much of a problem, even if you test positive, if you are vaccinated. It also reminds us why it is so important that everyone gets vaccinated. “
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As of July 14, the average daily rate of cases over the past seven days in Washington DC was 3.75 cases per 100,000 population and the city continued to be in the lowest stage of spread, according to the coronavirus tracker. from the city.
Texas Democrats met a slew of Democrats from Capitol Hill this week, including American no-brainers Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, and Joe Manchin of West Virginia. Vice President Kamala Harris also met with them on Tuesday.
In an interview on Saturday before the positive tests were announced, State Representative Trey Martinez Fischer of San Antonio spoke of the risk of coronavirus among members gathered for the quorum break.
“I was a guy who wore a mask on the last day of the session – I have my protocols and I’m on a heightened sense of awareness,” said Martinez Fischer, who wore a blue disposable mask during the interview. . “Everyone runs their business differently. I minimize the opportunities to be in a situation where there is a high risk of transmission. I am vaccinated, but I live my life as if I am not.
Texas lawmakers dealt with several positive cases of COVID-19 throughout the regular session on Capitol Hill. The first COVID-19 positive case came three days after the Legislative Assembly was convened, when Representative Joe Deshotel, D-Beaumont. tested positive three days.