Three of the Texas Democrats who fled the state last week on chartered jets to the nation’s capital have tested positive for the novel coronavirus.
In a Saturday statement, the Texas House Democratic Caucus said that a member of the caucus reported testing positive Friday for COVID-19, and that two more legislators received positive test results Saturday after taking the rapid test.
All three were fully vaccinated. Other Democrats and staff have tested negative on the rapid test, according to the caucus.
“The House Democratic Caucus is following all CDC guidance and protocols,” said caucus chairman Chris Turner 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.”
Under the Centers for Disease Control guidance, “fully vaccinated people who had been exposed to someone who tested positive do not need to take any additional precautions unless they are showing symptoms,” the caucus said.
“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,” Mr. Turner said.
About 60 of the 67 Texas House Democrats fled the state Monday to break quorum, blocking the GOP-controlled chamber from passing an elections-integrity bill that Democrats have decried as a voter-suppression measure.
The runaway Democrats were dinged by Republicans for posing for selfies on the chartered jets without facial coverings, although the Transportation Security Administration still requires commercial airline passengers, vaccinated or not, to wear masks.
Rep. Lauren Boebert, Colorado Republican, tweeted, “Hope that virtue signaling was worth it, guys! As usual - massive fail!”
“Texas House Democrats already harmed their constituents by abandoning their jobs and halting critical legislation, and now we learn that their hypocritical maskless private jet excursion may have put others at risk,” said Republican State Leadership Committee president Dee Duncan in a statement. “They must be held accountable for their actions and the DLCC [Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee] should apologize for encouraging their behavior.”
The Republican group launched digital and text ads this week urging the Texas Democrats to “get back to work” by returning to Austin for the special legislative session, which ends Aug. 6.
In its statement, the Democratic caucus said that it “will, and ask others to, respect the privacy of Members and their personal health. The caucus will provide updates as warranted.”
During their time in D.C., the group met with Vice President Harris.
The vice president and her staff were not at risk of exposure because they were not in close contact with those who tested positive, Symone Sanders, a spokeswoman for Ms. Harris said in a statement late Saturday.
Ms. Harris and the staff that attended the meeting are fully vaccinated and do not need to be tested or quarantined, Ms. Sanders continued.
According to the CDC, “the risk that fully vaccinated people could become infected with COVID-19 is low,” but those with symptoms should isolate themselves and get tested.
Reports of COVID-19 “breakthrough” cases are on the rise. The Illinois Department of Public Health said Friday that 151 fully vaccinated people have died of COVID-19 and about 500 have been hospitalized.