A sixth Texas Democrat has tested positive for COVID after a group of over 50 lawmakers took a maskless flight out of state to avoid voting on Republican election integrity bills in the state legislature.
The Dallas Morning News reported on the sixth positive result being confirmed on Monday.
One White House official and a staffer for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi also tested positive. The Pelosi staffer gave a tour of the Capitol to the Texas Democrats last week, and then attended the same party as the White House official.
The news comes after The Political Insider reported on the other five lawmakers having contracted COVID-19 over the weekend.
They fled their state on a pair of flights chartered by the Texas House Democratic Caucus at a price tag of $100,000 in order to break quorum with their Republican colleagues.
The Texas Democrats famously took selfies aboard the plane showing they were not wearing masks despite federal guidelines stating they should be worn on all “onboard commercial aircraft.”
The PR stunt has been a disaster for the Texas Democrats after over 10% of their crew have now tested positive for COVID.
The Dallas Morning News does a decent job of putting it into words, however.
“The runaways spent Monday strategizing ways to prod Congress for new voting rights protections without being able to lobby in person,” they write.
Essentially, they’ve been reduced to the same level of effectiveness they would have had if they simply stayed home rather than trying to subvert democracy by leaving Texas.
Still, State Representative Rhetta Bowers (Dallas) was viewing the circus-like effort with rose-colored glasses.
“It definitely is not stopping our work,” she said. “We’re just having to be a whole lot more careful.”
Perhaps the best quote out of the Dallas Morning News report came from Texas State Representative Rafael Anchia (Dallas), who indicated things could have been worse.
“We’ve been observing all CDC guidelines,” Anchia said. “We’re grateful that 100% of us were vaccinated in advance … This delta variant is no joke.”
The Austin American-Statesman reported late Sunday evening that the Texas Democrats “are staying in the same hotel and have been meeting regularly as a caucus and traveling frequently to the Capitol to meet with federal leaders.”
How many people will be forced to quarantine after meeting with those who tested positive? Will those people even follow the guidelines they support?
The situation has become such a debacle that a spokesperson for the group told NBC News they would no longer update the public on their medical situation.
“We’re focusing on our daily testing, following and going beyond CDC guidelines, social distancing and wearing masks as much as possible,” the spokesperson said. “We’re just not going to release daily counts.”
In light of the recent news, Surgeon General Vivek Murthy reiterated that “If you are on a plane, if you’re on the train, if you’re on a bus or on a subway, guidelines say that you should be wearing masks to protect yourself and to protect others.”
The Dallas News relates that Murthy believes the Texas Democrats “probably should have worn masks on their flight.”
People having received full vaccinations can still get sick, but the risk of developing a severe case of COVID is diminished significantly.
A statement from the caucus indicates all of the Democrats who tested positive were “feeling good, with no symptoms or only mild symptoms.”
According to NBC, the price tag to keep the Democrat lawmakers out of Texas long enough to ‘permanently’ avoid addressing Republican voting rights bills for the 30-day special session is roughly $1.5 million.
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