WASHINGTON, D.C. (KXAN) — It’s been a tumultuous week for Texas House Democrats.
At the end of the same week Texas Democratic lawmakers made a mass exodus from the state Capitol to block the GOP-led elections overhaul bills, three fully-vaccinated members of the Texas House Democratic Caucus have tested positive for COVID-19, according to Caucus officials.
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The Democrats who tested positive were among those who went to Washington, D.C. earlier this week, as confirmed by Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan.
“My first reaction was concern for the health of my colleagues who tested positive for COVID-19,” State Rep. James Talarico, D-Round Rock, told KXAN Saturday.
Talarico says he and the rest of his Democratic delegation in D.C. are now being tested for COVID-19 daily.
“Thankfully… my three colleagues who have tested positive don’t feel any symptoms, and they feel fine, which is probably a result of being fully vaccinated,” he said.
He said those three who have tested positive have been removed form the group.
“They are isolating in their hotel room with no one else in there with them,” said State Rep. Donna Howard, D-Austin.
The Caucus says it has contacted and tested other members and staff after the positive tests and will continue following guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
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Howard also tested negative, but after almost a week, the roughly 60 members of the Caucus have met with several leaders.
U.S. Congressman Lloyd Doggett welcomed them at the steps of the U.S. Capitol and met with others individually.
“I myself know I met with seven different senators, as well as the vice president,” Howard said.
The White House confirms two of those who tested positive for COVID-19 were in Tuesday’s indoor meeting with Vice President Kamala Harris. But they say she and her staff were not at risk of exposure.
Howard says the group may start limiting meetings as they monitor the spread.
“What gatherings are upcoming and whether we might need to have fewer in attendance, so we can do more social distancing,” she explained.
She also says members will be masking up more, even though that is not a CDC requirement for vaccinated people.
“We’re going ahead and determining that for right now, we’re going to mask up while we’re together for the next several days at least,” Howard said.
The CDC says most vaccinated people who don’t have COVID-like symptoms don’t need to stay away from others or get tested, but they should monitor for those symptoms for 14 days after an exposure.
Democrats say they don’t plan on returning to Texas until the end of special session.
“It’s up to us to keep ourselves safe, to keep others safe, so that we can continue this fight for voting rights,” Talarico said.
Caucus Chair Chris Turner released a statement Saturday, saying:
“The House Democratic 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. 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 House Democratic Caucus
COVID-19 positive but fully vaccinated?
While it’s highly recommended by the CDC and the federal government that you get a complete treatment of one of the three vaccines currently available, it’s important to remember that vaccines do not mean you cannot be infected.
Nationwide, there have been many “vaccine breakthrough cases” of positive tests despite vaccinations, though these are still a miniscule portion of people who have been vaccinated.
Austin-Travis County Health Authority Dr. Desmar Walkes told KXAN this week residents should get vaccinated, because “vaccines are effective at protecting us from being ill or severely ill and needing hospitalization.”
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The CDC elaborates on its “What You Should Know About the Possibility of COVID-19 Illness After Vaccination” page, saying: “While these vaccines are effective, no vaccine prevents illness 100% of the time.”
The existence of mutations and new strains also complicate the likelihood of contraction, the CDC notes. Currently, the delta COVID-19 variant is moving across the nation and is the dominant strain in several areas.