5 Texas Democratic lawmakers who fled the state to block GOP bills tested positive for COVID-19 in Washington, DC

Capitol
The Capitol. Al Drago/Getty Images
  • Five Texas House Democrats, all of whom were vaccinated, tested positive for COVID-19 while in DC.
  • It is rare but possible for vaccinated people to get COVID-19, but cases are typically mild, experts say.
  • The lawmakers fled the state last week to block GOP legislation, notably a restrictive voting bill.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Five Democratic members of the Texas House of Representatives have now tested positive for COVID-19 while in Washington, DC, the Texas House Democratic Caucus said in a statement on Sunday.

The lawmakers fled the Lone Star State in a dramatic walkout last week to block a number of Republican bills from passing in a legislative special session, most notably a restrictive voting bill championed by GOP Gov. Greg Abbott and Republican lawmakers.

After one lawmaker tested positive for COVID-19 on Friday, other members of the delegation were given rapid tests. Two more tested positive on Saturday.

The caucus announced on Sunday that two additional lawmakers tested positive for the virus.

“In light of some positive COVID-19 tests over the weekend, the House Democratic Caucus has decided to go beyond CDC [Centers for Disease Control] guidance and provide daily rapid tests for all Members and staff in Washington D.C. for this week,” the caucus said in a statement.

While the latest statement didn’t disclose the names of the members who were infected, state Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer said he was one of the two lawmakers to most recently come down with the virus.

“This morning, I received a positive COVID-19 rapid antigen test result,” he tweeted on Sunday. “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.”

Read more: 
The definitive oral history of how Trump took over the GOP, as told to us by Cruz, Rubio, and 20 more insiders

It is possible to test positive for COVID-19 after being fully vaccinated, experts have warned. Known as “breakthrough” infections, cases like those involving the Texas legislators are typically mild and possibly less contagious, Insider’s Andrea Michelson and Mia de Graaf previously reported.

While the risk of contracting the COVID-19 while vaccinated is low, vaccinated people who experience virus symptoms should isolate themselves from others and get clinically evaluated and tested, according to the CDC. Vaccinated people without symptoms do not need to isolate or get tested after possible exposure.

Vice President Kamala Harris met with members of the caucus last Tuesday. In a statement, Harris’ senior advisor and spokesperson Symone Sanders said that the vice president was not in close proximity with the lawmakers who tested positive and didn’t need to take further action.

“Based on the timeline of these positive tests, it was determined the Vice President and her staff present at the meeting were not at risk of exposure because they were not in close contact with those who tested positive and therefore do not need to be tested or quarantined,” Sanders said, adding: “The Vice President and her staff are fully vaccinated.

Since arriving in Washington, DC, the lawmakers have also met with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York and Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia.

According to The Hill, previous statements from Manchin and Schumer’s offices indicated that the lawmakers who tested positive were not in close contact with the two Democratic senators.

Texas Democrats hope to put a spotlight on national voting-rights legislation while reinforcing their fervent opposition to the Texas voting legislation, which would ban drive-thru voting and 24-hour voting centers, add new voter identification requirements to mail-in ballots, and empower partisan poll watchers, among other measures.