A sixth Texas Democrat tested positive for COVID-19 on Monday, their caucus confirmed, meaning that more than 10 per cent of those who fled the state a week ago to prevent the passage of an election bill are now infected.
The Democrats left the Lone Star State in order to prevent Republicans in the legislature passing election integrity legislation that the Democrats were against.
Their departure paralyzed the Texas state house because the legislature requires a quorum of two-thirds of lawmakers be present to conduct business.
But six of the runaways have now been stricken with Covid after they packed onto private jets without masks and fled to Washington, D.C.
Rhetta Bowers of Dallas confirmed the sixth diagnosis, and said that she and others have brought food to those quarantining in their hotel rooms, The Dallas Morning News reports.
The six are all continuing to work remotely, she said.
Rhetta Bowers, in red, confirmed on Monday that six of the 55 Texas Democrats have now tested positive for COVID-19, since fleeing to Washington DC a week ago on a private jet
The Democrats are seen fleeing Austin on a private jet. None are wearing their face masks, and now six of the 55 have tested positive for COVID-19. All are fully vaccinated
The first of the 55 tested positive on Friday, then two more on Saturday and two more on Sunday.
The group began wearing masks and adjusting their plans on Saturday after they learnt of the diagnosis.
All those who tested positive were vaccinated, the Democratic caucus said.
State Representative Trey Martinez Fischer said he was one of the lawmakers who tested positive on Sunday. In a statement, he said he had ‘extremely mild’ symptoms and would quarantine until he tested negative.
Another lawmaker, State Representative Celia Israel, said she tested positive on Saturday. The others infected have not been named.
‘Today, I received a positive COVID-19 rapid antigen test result. I am fully vaccinated, and had tested negative on Friday and Saturday. I am quarantining until I test negative, and I am grateful to be only experiencing extremely mild symptoms,’ Fischer said in a statement.
Earlier on Sunday, Israel said in a statement: ‘After given notice Friday evening that a colleague tested positive for COVID-19, I and my colleagues immediately took rapid antigen tests.
‘While I tested negative, a subsequent test Saturday morning revealed I was now COVID positive. Let this be a reminder that COVID-19 is still very much among us, with infection rates on the rise and more contagious variants spreading nationwide. While I am fully vaccinated, this will not 100% prevent infection.’
The announcements came after the Fischer and Israel had spent days touring Washington, media interviews, addressing crowds and even meeting Vice President Kamala Harris.
San Antonio Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer (left) said Sunday he was among the two new positive tests. Austin Rep. Celia Israel (right) confirmed she was among the initial group of three to test positive
Rep. Israel revealed on Sunday that she had tested positive for COVID on Saturday
Rep. Martinez Fischer released a lengthy statement following him testing positive for COVID
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer met with the Texas Democrats including Martinez Fischer (circled)
Chris Turner, head of the Democratic caucus in the Texas House, said that once the first one developed symptoms ‘we thought it was prudent to proactively test our members and staff.’
Hotel staff has done a deep cleaning in meeting space the Texans have used over the last week.
Bower told the paper she went out of her way to keep track of which colleagues tested positive so she could figure out whether she’d been around them. She survived a bout with COVID in December that also hit members of her family.
‘We fought real hard to get well,’ she said.
The group is staying in the Washington Plaza Hotel in northwest D.C., which featured an outdoor pool. The common areas used by the group have been deep cleaned following their diagnosis
Rafael Anchia, a representative for Dallas, said they are all grateful for the vaccine.
‘We’ve been observing all CDC guidelines,’ he said.
‘We’re grateful that 100% of us were vaccinated in advance. This Delta variant is no joke.’
Another member admitted it was a mistake to go maskless on private jets after five contracted COVID.
The group chartered two private jets at $100,000 to get the majority of the runaway members to D.C. last Monday.
Upon arriving in D.C., the group checked into the Washington Plaza Hotel in the northwest quadrant of the city. Rooms in the swanky hotel start at $200 per night and amenities include an outdoor swimming pool – a rarity for district hotels.
A Texas Democrat said Monday the runaways will need $1.5 million to stay D.C. until August 7 .
Fundraising efforts ensued last week to help pay for the trip as the group insists no taxpayer money is being used for their stunt.
Last week, a few dozen Democrats fled from Austin to break quorum and block Republicans’ from passing two separate voting rights bills in a special session called by Texas Governor Greg Abbott.
State Representative Armando Walle told NBC News in a report published Monday that the cost of keeping the group of around 60 lawmakers in the nation’s capital for the remainder of the special session would reach around $1.5 million.
The group insisted they plan to stay in the nation’s capital until the end of that session, which concludes on August 7. Abbott, however, can just call another special session when this one ends. The legislative body also voted to arrest the Democrats once they step foot back in the state.
When fleeing, the lawmakers posted several selfies taunting Republicans where they were seen maskless on coach buses and the crowded planes.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) still says transportation like planes, buses and trains should require masks regardless of vaccination status.
‘ALWAYS MASK UP INDOORS!’: Texas Democrat Gene Wu also admitted he and his colleagues made a ‘mistake’ by not masking up on their flights to D.C. – after five vaccinated members tested positive for COVID following meetings with the vice president and lawmakers
The Texas Democrats posing on one of the two jets chartered at $100,000, with no one wearing a face covering. The CDC recommends all people, regardless of vaccinated status, wear masks on transportation like planes and buses
‘Let our mistake be the object lesson,’ Texas Representative Gene Wu tweeted on Monday.
‘All of us had been fully vaccinated since March. We got complacent because we felt safe. We had no positives for months, and we got sloppy,’ he continued. ‘Being vaccinated doesn’t ALWAYS stop you from spreading the virus.’
Wu asserted: ‘ALWAYS MASK UP INDOORS!’
On Tuesday, before the positive diagnoses, the group met with Vice President Kamala Harris.
Harris raised eyebrows when she said that she did not need to quarantine as she had limited exposure to the group.
Jen Psaki, Joe Biden‘s press secretary, told reporters during a briefing Monday that the vice president did get tested and ‘there was no detection of COVID-19.’
A White House official told DailyMail.com on background that Harris always intended to get tested for the virus before her previously scheduled routine doctor’s appointment at Walter Reed Medical Center over the weekend.
They also insisted that the vice president’s test had nothing to do with the fact that she met the lawmakers who later tested positive for COVID-19.
The two are not connected, the official said.
Psaki said on Monday: ‘We take these precautions incredibly seriously and abide by the health, the guidance of our health and medical experts.
‘We, of course, hope everybody abides by public health guidelines,’ she continued.
‘That’s what we certainly recommend, but the vice president — what’s important for everybody to know — is the vice president was tested.
‘She, of course, takes these precautions seriously and we would follow any advice or public health officials give us.’
The runaway Democrats are now planning a virtual ‘tour’ this week with national advocates and voting rights leaders to try and pile the pressure on Congress to pass the For The People Act.
It is not immediately clear who is fronting the bill for the Democrats’ month-long stay in D.C., but the lawmakers expect to be reimbursed, partly with funds raised from supporters and partly from other entities.
TEXAS’ VOTING RIGHTS BILLS: WHAT’S IN THEM AND WHY THE DEMOCRATS THINK THEY ‘RESTRICT’ ELECTIONS
- The bills – House Bill 3 and Senate Bill 1 – were filed last week during a special legislative session called by Texas Governor Greg Abbott.
- The proposed legislation creates harsher criminal penalties for people who help voters at the polls or those planning to vote by mail.
- The bills, if passed, would be a ban on 24-hour voting. Instead, there would be a new voting window from 6am to 10pm on election day.
- Rules would require residents to fill out paperwork if you are taking someone who is not a relative to vote in person.
- Regulations would require someone to exit their car during curbside voting.
- Bills would mean voters would have to provide their drivers license or the last four digits of their social security number to cast a ballot.
- New rules would stop local election officials from sending out mail-in ballots to those who haven’t requested them.
- Drive-in voting would be banned.
- Expands what partisan poll watchers can observe during counts.
- Prohibits poll watchers from being removed for violating election laws.
- Both bills would increase early voting from eight to nine hours.
- Also lowers the population threshold required for counties to provide at least 12 hours of early voting each weekday of the second week of early voting.
- Protects the legitimacy of elections and avoids fraud, according to Republicans.
Democrats argue that:
- The measures included in the bills would mainly stop minority communities and shift workers from voting because of the restricted hours.
- The regulations in the bills would make it harder to control disruptive partisan poll watchers.
- Would make it easier for losing candidates to try and overturn election results and harass winning candidates with court battles and recounts.
- Democrats also claim the provisions do nothing to make elections more secure in Texas.
- Insists the proposed legislation would help further the claims of election fraud Donald Trump has made in the aftermath of the 2020 election.
- Argue that restricted voting hours on a Sunday would have impacted the ability of black churchgoers, also known as ‘souls of the polls’, to cast their ballots.
- They instead want the For the People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act to be passed by Congress to address elections on a federal level.
- But Republicans insist that this is a power grab and would represent a ‘federal takeover’ of elections