Two more Democratic state lawmakers who fled from Texas last week to prevent a vote on legislation to shore up election integrity have tested positive for COVID-19, making it a total of five of the 51 fleeing lawmakers to come down with the virus.
The development makes the photo of the lawmakers sitting on a private chartered jet with a case of Miller Lite and no masks that much more inconvenient, as their trip is beginning to take on super-spreader characteristics.
It also puts a major kink into their week-long grandstanding tour and undermines the White House message that the pandemic’s now a pandemic of the unvaccinated, as all five Democrats were reportedly vaccinated.
Adding to the unfortunate turn of events, the lawmakers met with Vice President Kamala Harris on Tuesday, and Harris paid a visit Sunday to Walter Reed Medical Center, in Bethesda, Maryland.
A White House official told Fox News the visit was a “routine doctor’s appointment,” but the network reported that the vice president’s office did not immediately respond when asked if Harris was showing any symptoms of COVID-19.
Harris spokesperson Symone Sanders said Harris had not been in “close contact” with the infected lawmakers and, in a sign of how tone deaf her office is, reassured everyone that the vice president and her staff have been fully vaccinated.
“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 in a statement.
Democratic state Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer is one of the two members who tested positive Sunday and, in a statement, said that he was experiencing mild symptoms.
“Today, I received a positive COVID-19 rapid antigen test result,” he said. “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.”
Fischer spoke of the many “sacrifices” he has made in the past week, and spoke of the legislation to strengthen voter security in Texas in the same breath as the Delta variant of COVID-19, misrepresenting the effort as “anti-voter legislation.”
— TMF (@TMFtx) July 19, 2021
Before Sunday’s positive tests, Texas Republican state Rep. Briscoe Cain wondered aloud whether this was just another “gimmick” to delay their return to Texas — Gov. Greg Abbott has vowed to arrest the Democrats when they do come back.
“I say prove it. I think it’s an excuse to avoid coming back. They want a reason to do a 14-day quarantine; they don’t want to come back and do their jobs. If they really have it, prove it,” he said.
Cain also questioned the legality of flying without masks on.
“My reading of federal transportation law and mask mandates is that the mask rule applies to private charters regardless of whether you’re vaccinated,” he told Fox News, adding, “Humorously, a local ordinance in Washington, D.C. also prohibits a person from importing an alcoholic beverage into the District of Columbia without a permit.”
The Austin American-Statesman has reported that the first three lawmakers to test positive would quarantine for 10 days before being retested.
The newspaper also noted that “all of the positive cases have been identified through rapid coronavirus tests, which deliver results within minutes but are not as accurate as PCR coronavirus tests.”
In a release Sunday, the Texas House Democratic Caucus said the lawmakers have “decided to go beyond CDC guidance and provide daily rapid tests for all members and staff in Washington D.C. for this week,” according to NBC DFW.
Texas Department of State Health Services spokesperson Chris Van Deusen told the American-Statesman that no vaccine is 100% effective, but said it lessens the severity of symptoms, even with the Delta variant.
“While the vaccines offer very good protection for all the variants in Texas once someone is fully vaccinated, no vaccine or other medical intervention is 100% effective, so the more virus is circulating, the more likely it is we’ll see cases among a small percentage of vaccinated people,” Deusen said. “The good news is those cases will tend to be milder and much less likely to result in hospitalization or death.”
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