WASHINGTON – Three Texas House Democrats have tested positive for COVID-19 in Washington, D.C., according to Texas House Democratic Caucus leadership.
They’re among nearly 60 lawmakers who fled the state Monday to break quorum in the House, part of an effort to block the passage of a GOP-led elections bill. Most members are staying in the same hotel.
One member found out about their positive test result late Friday evening, but they do not have symptoms, caucus officials said. All House lawmakers were alerted and received a rapid test immediately following the member’s positive result.
Two additional members tested positive in a rapid test Saturday morning and one has mild symptoms, the caucus said.
The three who have tested positive on the rapid tests will receive a PCR coronavirus test, a more sensitive and accurate version of a COVID-19 test. The positive members will isolate for 10 days.The three members are vaccinated. The caucus did not release their names.
There was a notable increase in the use of face coverings among lawmakers and Democratic staffers at their hotel Saturday morning. Since members arrived late Monday, masks have been used sparingly as they moved through the lobby and held meetings around the city.
“The House Democratic Caucus is following all CDC guidance and protocols,” Rep. Chris Turner, chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, said in a statement. “This is a sober reminder that COVID is still with us, and though vaccinations offer tremendous protection, we still must take necessary precautions.
We are in touch with public health experts in Texas to provide additional guidance. 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. On Thursday, Travis County slid back to tightened restrictions after four cases of the variant were confirmed in the Austin area.
Unvaccinated people remain most at risk of contracting the coronavirus and having a more serious illness. All Texas House Democrats have been vaccinated, the caucus said.
Rep. Donna Howard of Austin is a former critical care nurse and consulted a public health physician to determine safety protocols for Democrats on the ground in Washington.
She said lawmakers have followed CDC guidelines throughout their trip – which state that fully vaccinated individuals do not need to wear masks or practice social distancing unless required by law or private regulation – and they continue to follow public health guidelines now that three positive cases have emerged within their Ranks.