“The caucus also consulted current CDC guidance, which says that fully vaccinated people who had been exposed to someone who tested positive do not need to take any additional precautions unless they are showing symptoms,” the caucus stated, suggesting that the first member who tested positive may not have been symptomatic.
On Saturday morning, two additional members tested positive on rapid tests, caucus leaders said.
All three members were fully vaccinated, they added. Caucus leaders did not identify any of the members.
“This is a sober reminder that COVID is still with us, and though vaccinations offer tremendous protection, we still must take necessary precautions,” House Democratic Caucus Chairman Chris Turner said in a statement Saturday. “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.”
At least 50 members of the caucus left their state abruptly Monday, to deny state Republicans a quorum during an ongoing special session and prevent the passage of a restrictive new voting bill. The Texas Democrats, who flew to Washington, have been staying at an unidentified hotel in the area and have said they plan to stay out of Texas until Aug. 7, when the special session ends.
Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan (R), who said he would charter a plane to demand Democrats return to Texas this weekend, on Saturday extended “prayers for safety and health” to those who had tested positive while in Washington.
“My staff has reached out to Dr. John Hellerstedt, Commissioner of the Texas Department of State Health Services, and his epidemiology team for any additional guidance on protocols for those exposed to COVID-19 post-vaccination,” Phelan said in a statement.
While in Washington, the Texas House Democrats have held numerous high-profile news conferences and meetings — including with Vice President Harris and Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.) — all to implore Congress to pass federal voting rights legislation. (Harris spokeswoman Symone Sanders said Saturday it was determined the vice president and her staff were not at risk of exposure, based on the timeline of the positive tests and because they were not in close contact with the members who tested positive.)
However, the Democrats have admitted they do not have a long-term “playbook” and that their quorum-breaking gambit could only delay Texas Republicans’ efforts to pass new voting restrictions for so long.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) has vowed to call additional special sessions until the voting measures there pass, and he has threatened the Democratic state lawmakers who left the state with arrest.