Three fully vaccinated members of the Texas House Democratic Caucus have tested positive for COVID-19, the delegation said Saturday.
One of the members received a positive result Friday and informed the caucus. Members and staff took rapid tests and all were negative.
On Saturday morning, two more members tested positive on a rapid test, the caucus said.
In a statement released Saturday evening, state Rep. Celia Israel (D-Austin) identified herself as one of the House members who tested positive for COVID-19.
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"Thankfully, I am doing well and hope to get over the infection quickly and with mild symptoms," Israel said. "I’m currently quarantining until I test negative. I urge anyone not yet vaccinated to do so as soon as possible to help stop the spread."
Israel thanked her colleagues for well-wishes and support and said she hopes "this instance highlights the sacrifices we’re willing to make for the cause of democracy. I would not change anything to protect the right to vote.”
State Rep. Julie Johnson (D-Carrollton), who is in Washington with the Texas Democratic Caucus, said the situation was "unfortunate" and that it highlighted the risks and importance that get vaccinated.
"Their cases are very mild because of that, but we need to continue to make sure that everyone is vaccinated, this virus is still out there, it's very present and anyone can get it, but it is not stopping us," Johnson said. "We are working very hard up here in order to achieve the goals that we came here to do."
Johnson tested negative for COVID-19. The group will continue to meet with lawmakers, though some meetings have been moved to Zoom.
Chairman Chris Turner (D-Grand Prairie) said the caucus is following all guidance and protocols from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
"This is a sober reminder that COVID is still with us, and though vaccinations offer tremendous protection, we still must take necessary precautions," Turner said. "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."
The caucus did not release any additional information about which members tested positive and asked that the privacy and personal health of the members be respected.
More than 50 Texas Democrats left the state Monday for Washington, D.C. Their absence leaves the House without quorum and unable to pass any bills in the special legislative session including sweeping voting legislation.
Opponents of House Bill 3 and Senate Bill 1 say provisions in the bills constitute voter suppression, while supporters maintain it is designed to enhance election integrity.
House Speaker Dade Phelan (R) said his team has reached out to Texas Department of State Health Services Commissioner Dr. John Hellerstedt for guidance on protocols for people exposed to COVID-19 after receiving the vaccine.
"Kim and I extend our prayers for safety and health for the members of the Texas House Democratic Caucus who tested positive for COVID-19 while in Washington, D.C.," Phelan said in a written statement.
Phelan has demanded that House Democrats return to Austin to continue the special session.
On Saturday evening, Symone Sanders, senior adviser and chief spokesperson for Vice President Kamala Harris, said Harris had met with members of the Texas state Legislature on Tuesday.
"Earlier today, it was brought to our attention that two of the members at that meeting tested positive for COVID-19," Sanders said in the statement. "Based on the timeline of these positive tests, it was determined the Vice President and her staff present at the meeting were not at risk of exposure because they were not in close contact with those who tested positive and therefore do not need to be tested or quarantined."
Harris and her staff are fully vaccinated, Sanders said.