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Number Of Infected Texas Lawmakers Who Fled State Keeps Growing

An airline worker walks past a plane.
Eric Gay
Associated Press
A private plane is readied for Democrats from the Texas Legislature as they arrive by bus to board and head to Washington, D.C., Monday, July 12, 2021, in Austin, Texas.

After two more Texas lawmakers who left the state to block efforts to pass new voting restrictions confirmed they tested positive for coronavirus over the weekend, The Dallas Morning News reported Monday that a sixth member of the delegation is also infected.

State Rep. Rhetta Bowers (D-Dallas) told the Morning News about the additional infected lawmaker.

“It definitely is not stopping our work,” she said. “We’re just having to be a whole lot more careful.”

Bowers said members of the group are bringing food to those quarantining in their rooms.

State Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer of San Antonio said in a statement Sunday that he had tested positive. “I am quarantining until I test negative, and I am grateful to be only experiencing extremely mild symptoms,” he said.

More than 50 Texas lawmakers traveled to Washington on Monday aboard a private charter flight. A caucus official has said all had been vaccinated. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says “breakthrough” infections — vaccinated people becoming infected — are rare.

After a photo showed them maskless on the plane, Republicans and others criticized the lawmakers for traveling without masks. But federal pandemic guidelines don’t require masks to be worn on private aircraft.

Vice President Kamala Harris, who had met last week with members of the Texas delegation, went to the Walter Reed military hospital on Sunday for a routine doctor’s appointment, a White House official said. No other information was released, and the White House did not respond to questions about Harris’ visit.

After some of the lawmakers tested positive for the virus, Harris’ spokesperson said Saturday that Harris and her staff were not at risk of exposure because they were not in close contact with those who tested positive and added that Harris and her staff were fully vaccinated.

The Democrats fled the state to deny the Republican-controlled Legislature the necessary quorum to pass the voting laws.

This is a developing story and may be updated.

Associated Press
Gabrielle Jones has a passion for serving diverse audiences. She is the Audience Editor at KERA in Dallas, Texas.