On Saturday and Sunday, July 17 and 18, four more fully vaccinated Democratic state representatives tested positive for the coronavirus. The sixth member tested positive on Monday after receiving negative test results all weekend. Cara Santucci, a spokeswoman for the Texas House Democratic Caucus, said the sixth member is in self-isolation.
Santucci said last week that the delegation would provide daily rapid COVID-19 tests for the state representatives and their staffers in Washington, D.C. But in a statement made after the sixth positive case, she said the delegation will no longer release a daily COVID-19 case count.
“We’re focusing on our daily testing, following and going beyond [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] guidelines, social distancing and wearing masks as much as possible,” she said. “We’re just not going to release daily counts.”
The Texas Democrats are expected to undergo further coronavirus testing throughout the week. But because the caucus will no longer be transparent regarding the coronavirus cases of its fully vaccinated members, there is no way to tell how many more fully vaccinated state representatives become breakthrough cases.
Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer of San Antonio is one of the six fully vaccinated state representatives who tested positive for COVID-19. He tested negative for the test on Friday and Saturday. But a third coronavirus test on Sunday returned a positive test result.
“My test came back positive and I was just really just, you know, a little bit of shock, because I felt so well,” said Martinez-Fischer. He said his diagnosis is serving as a wake-up call to question everything he knows about COVID-19, and get back to the basics to help stop its spread.
Rep. Celia Israel of Austin also announced that she was one of the members who tested positive. She initially tested negative on Friday, but then on Saturday morning, she got a positive test result. Israel claimed that, while she is fully vaccinated, her vaccines do not prevent 100 percent of all infections.
“I am currently quarantining until I test negative,” said Israel. She added that, despite the vaccine not providing all the protection it claims, she urges the unvaccinated to get the shots “as soon as possible to help stop the spread.” (Related: Texas woman with severe coronavirus dies in hospital after CATCHING FIRE.)
Martinez-Fischer and Israel are the only COVID-19 members of the caucus to reveal their identities. The other four lawmakers are still unknown.
Vice President Kamala Harris met with several members of the Texas delegation who recently contracted the virus. According to White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki, she has so far tested negative for COVID-19.
Texas House Democrats in Washington to prevent vote on election integrity bill
Martinez Fischer and Israel are among a group of nearly 60 Democrats who fled en masse from Texas to try to stop the Texas House of Representatives from voting on election reform bills that will protect the state’s elections from possible fraud. The Republicans, led by Gov. Greg Abbott, are trying to pass a series of bills that would add safeguards to the state’s elections.
The bills would add identification requirements for mail-in ballots, close some vulnerable early voting options to prevent fraud, create criminal penalties for breaking election regulations and empower partisan poll watchers. Texas Democrats have argued without evidence that these bills would disenfranchise the state’s non-White voting population.
In the Texas Legislature, two-thirds of all elected members constitute a quorum in each chamber. This is the minimum number of members required for either the House of Representatives or the Senate to conduct official business, such as debating and voting on proposed legislation. For the House, this means 100 members of the 150-seat chamber represent a quorum.
There are 67 Democrats in the House, and at least 51 are known to have fled the state, just enough to prevent the body from meeting to vote on the election reform bills.
After landing in Washington, D.C., the Democratic lawmakers made it clear that they were there to petition the federal government to protect what they see as the voting rights of their constituents. They have made it clear that they would stay there until Aug. 6, when the special session called to vote on the election reform bills is set to expire.
The departure of the state representatives also prevents 10 other priority items Abbott slated for the special session, including bills to protect the rights of the unborn, ban critical race theory in schools and protect student-athletes from competing with transgenders.
Abbott has vowed to arrest the Democratic lawmakers upon their return, and will call for as many special sessions as it takes to pass the election reform bills.
“As soon as they come back in the state of Texas, they will be arrested, they will be cabined inside the Texas Capitol until they get their job done,” said Abbott in an interview.
By Arsenio Toledo
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