WASHINGTON D.C., DC — Six Texas House Democrats in Washington, D.C., have tested positive for COVID-19, the Texas House Democratic Caucus said.
Nearly 60 lawmakers are in Washington after fleeing the state on Monday to break quorum in the House, in an effort to block GOP-backed election reform bills in the special legislative session. Most of those representatives are staying together in the same hotel.
Caucus officials said one member, who is fully vaccinated, tested positive on Friday night and immediately informed the caucus. Members and staff took rapid tests, all of which were negative.
Then, on Saturday and Sunday, four more members who were fully vaccinated tested positive. The caucus said all of the HDC members who tested positive are feeling good, with no symptoms or only mild symptoms.
On Monday, ABC News confirmed a sixth member tested positive after receiving conflicting test results on Monday morning. This member had tested negative over the weekend.
Members are expected to undergo PCR testing on Tuesday and should receive more concrete results about the group's status by Thursday.
They will isolate for 10 days. Following CDC guidance, fully vaccinated people who came in contact with those who tested positive will only take additional precautions if they show symptoms.
On Monday, lawmakers said they are now getting COVID-19 tests every morning before getting together. They also said the representatives that traveled to Washington are all fully vaccinated.
On Sunday morning, Rep. Celia Israel (D-Austin) said she was one of the members who tested positive.
"After given notice Friday evening that a colleague tested positive for COVID-19, I and my colleagues immediately took rapid antigen tests," she said in a statement. "While I tested negative, a subsequent test Saturday morning revealed I was now COVID positive. 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. While I am fully vaccinated, this will not 100% prevent infection."
Israel said she is experiencing only mild symptoms and hopes to get over the infection quickly.
"I am currently quarantining until I test negative," she said. "I urge anyone not yet vaccinated to do so as soon as possible to help stop the spread."
House Democratic Caucus Chairman Chris Turner said the 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," said Turner. "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 Speaker of the House Dade Phelan released the following statement on Saturday:
"Kim and I extend our prayers for safety and health for the members of the Texas House Democratic Caucus who tested positive for COVID-19 while in Washington, D.C. My staff has reached out to Dr. John Hellerstedt, commissioner of the Texas Department of State Health Services, and his epidemiology team for any additional guidance on protocols for those exposed to COVID-19 post-vaccination."
Israel thanked her Republican colleagues for their well-wishes.
Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer (D-San Antonio) announced Sunday evening that he had tested positive for COVID-19, as well:
“When my Texas House Democratic colleagues and I broke quorum to stop anti-voter legislation, we knew that tactic would come with real personal sacrifice. In Texas, we have a part-time legislature. We are not professional politicians. We are employees and business owners, moms and dads, and regular folks with a passion for service. Many of my colleagues and I are away from our families, our livelihoods, our churches, and our support networks. Those sacrifices are made more real as we grapple with the pandemic that has touched everyone in some way. Today, I received a positive COVID-19 rapid antigen test result. I am fully vaccinated, and had tested negative on Friday and Saturday. I am quarantining until I test negative, and I am grateful to be only experiencing extremely mild symptoms. I am grateful for the encouragement and prayers of my colleagues and all of those across Texas and the country who support our cause. Let’s keep pushing to ensure everyone is vaccinated and tackle this virus. Just as these new variants sweeping the country are more aggressive than ever, the wave of anti-voter legislation in this country is worse than we’ve seen in generations. That’s why I will continue the fight for voting rights with every single fiber of my being. I will be tele-working with my colleagues, staff, partners, and allies. We’re planning more good trouble, and hope to make announcements soon. Democracy is in jeopardy, and we will not be stopped in our fight to protect it.”
The news comes as the highly contagious delta variant of COVID-19 has become the dominant strain in the U.S. and in Texas. On Thursday, Travis County leaders moved the area to Stage 3 of the county’s risk-based guidelines after four cases of the variant were confirmed.
Vaccinations offer protection against the variant and help prevent severe illness and death. The Texas House Democratic Caucus said all members have been vaccinated.
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