WASHINGTON, D.C. (KXAN) — Two more Texas House Democrats have tested positive for COVID-19 among those who went to Washington D.C., a caucus representative confirmed Sunday.
The positive rapid tests bring the total to five who have contracted COVID-19.
“All of the HDC Members who tested positive are feeling good, with no symptoms or only mild symptoms,” a release from the House Democratic Caucus said.
All members and staff were provided daily rapid tests as a precautionary measure after they learned three members tested positive for COVID-19 in the days prior.
Texas Democratic lawmakers made a mass exodus from the state Capitol last Monday to block the GOP-led elections overhaul bills this past week.
“My first reaction was concern for the health of my colleagues who tested positive for COVID-19,” State Rep. James Talarico, D-Round Rock, told KXAN Saturday. Talarico said he and the rest of his Democratic delegation in D.C. were being tested for COVID-19 daily. “Thankfully… my three colleagues who have tested positive don’t feel any symptoms, and they feel fine, which is probably a result of being fully vaccinated.
State Rep. Donna Howard, D-Austin, said Saturday COVID-19-positive lawmakers were isolating in their hotel rooms.
Those who have tested positive have been removed from the group, including Austin Rep. Celia Israel. She released a statement Sunday explaining she was among those with a positive test.
“Let this be a reminder that COVID-19 is still very much among us, with infection rates on the rise and more contagious variants spreading nationwide,” said Israel. “… Most importantly, I hope this instance highlights the sacrifices we are willing to make for the cause of democracy. I would not change anything to protect the right to vote.”
Rep. Trey Martinez Fisher also revealed he tested positive for COVID-19 on Sunday. “I am quarantining until I test negative, and I am grateful to be only experiencing extremely mild symptoms,” said a statement from him. He added that he’ll continue teleworking.
The Caucus says it’s contacted and tested other members and staff after the positive tests and will continue following guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Howard also tested negative, but after almost a week, the roughly 60 members of the Caucus have met with several leaders, including U.S. Congressman Lloyd Doggett and Vice President Kamala Harris.
The White House confirmed two of those who tested positive for COVID-19 were in Tuesday’s indoor meeting with VP Harris but a statement said she and her staff were not at risk of exposure.
Howard said Saturday the group may start limiting meetings as they monitor the spread. She also said members will be masking up more, even though that is not a CDC requirement for vaccinated people.
According to the CDC, most vaccinated people who don’t have COVID-like symptoms don’t need to stay away from others or get tested, but they should monitor for those symptoms for 14 days after an exposure.
Democrats said they don’t plan on returning to Texas until the end of special session.
“It’s up to us to keep ourselves safe, to keep others safe, so that we can continue this fight for voting rights,” Talarico said.
Caucus Chair Chris Turner released a statement Saturday, saying:
“The House Democratic Caucus is following all CDC guidance and protocols. 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.”Texas House Democratic Caucus
COVID-19 positive but fully vaccinated?
While it’s highly recommended by the CDC and the federal government that you get a complete treatment of one of the three vaccines currently available, it’s important to remember that vaccines do not mean you cannot be infected.
Nationwide, there have been many “vaccine breakthrough cases” of positive tests despite vaccinations, though these are still a miniscule portion of people who have been vaccinated.
Austin-Travis County Health Authority Dr. Desmar Walkes told KXAN this week residents should get vaccinated, because “vaccines are effective at protecting us from being ill or severely ill and needing hospitalization.”
The CDC elaborates on its “What You Should Know About the Possibility of COVID-19 Illness After Vaccination” page, saying: “While these vaccines are effective, no vaccine prevents illness 100% of the time.”
The existence of mutations and new strains also complicate the likelihood of contraction, the CDC notes. Currently, the delta COVID-19 variant is moving across the nation and is the dominant strain in several areas.