Texas Democrats who fled state in protest of GOP anti-voting bill test positive for COVID

"That's the beauty of vaccines," said Rep. Gene Wu of his peers who tested negative and have mild symptoms

Published July 19, 2021 5:27PM (EDT)

The Texas State Capitol (Tamir Kalifa/Getty Images)
The Texas State Capitol (Tamir Kalifa/Getty Images)

More than 10% of the Texas Democrats who left the state earlier this summer to stymie the passage of a GOP-backed voter restriction bill have contracted COVID. 

A sixth member of the Texas House tested positive on Monday. State Rep. Rhetta Bowers told the Dallas Morning News that the elected officials are quarantining in their hotel rooms in D.C. where several lawmakers went to lobby Democrats in Congress to pass federal legislation protecting access to the ballot box.

"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," State Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer of San Antonio said in a statement announcing that he had tested positive.

He also said that he is fortunate to be experiencing only "extremely mild symptoms."

One caucus official said all of the more than 50 passengers and crew on the trip were  vaccinated. The CDC says, while rare, "breakthrough" infections among groups of vaccinated people can still occur. 

When a photo surfaced showing the Democrats maskless on the plane, Republicans and others criticized the lawmakers for being maskless, but federal guidelines don't require masks to be worn on private aircrafts.

After meeting with the Texas officials last week, Vice President Kamala Harris went to Walter Reed Hospital on Sunday for a routine visit, according to a White House official. Once lawmakers started testing positive, Harris' spokesperson said her and her staff were not at risk due to not being in close contact with any of the infected officials and all being vaccinated. 

State Rep. Gene Wu said the outbreak speaks to the efficacy of the vaccine. 

"That is the beauty of being vaccinated," said Wu. "Every single person who has tested positive so far have little to no symptoms, which is the point of the vaccine. If nothing else, we want this to be a reminder to all Americans: get your stupid shot now."



By Leah Foreman

Leah Foreman is an editorial intern at Salon and a graduate student at NYU's Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute. Follow her on Twitter @TheLeahForeman.

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Brief Coronavirus Covid Kamala Harris Texas Texas Democrats Vaccines