Texas Dems infect aides for Pelosi & White House, dimming chance for Biden meeting
AUSTIN, Texas — Texas lawmakers who hightailed it to the nation’s capital in a faceoff over voting rights said Tuesday that they were pressing on with their mission to get Democrats in Washington, D.C., to bolster their cause, even as Covid-19 spreads through their ranks.
The caucus in recent days had met with Vice President Kamala Harris and other lawmakers on Capitol Hill in an effort to push Congress to pass federal voting laws, though the confirmed cases have prompted the delegation to make adjustments for how to continue having such conversations.
Harris has since tested negative for the virus, though others, including a White House official and staffer for U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., have tested positive after the staff member helped the delegation around the Capitol last week.
Drew Hammill, a Pelosi spokesman, confirmed that a “fully vaccinated senior spokesperson in the Speaker’s Press Office tested positive for Covid after contact with members of the Texas state legislature last week.”
Hammill said the employee has had no contact with Pelosi since exposure and that much of Pelosi’s press staff was working remotely Tuesday, with the exception of those not exposed or who have recently tested negative.
A vaccinated White House staffer tested positive for the virus after interacting with the Pelosi aide, according to a White House official. The infected person has not been in close contact with Biden.
“There has not been a meeting planned and there hasn’t been a change to that,” she said.
At a news conference later Tuesday, state Rep. Chris Turner, who chairs the caucus, said the group “would welcome the opportunity to visit with the president virtually,” if possible.
Meantime, state Rep. Donna Howard of Austin confirmed Tuesday that she was the sixth delegation member who tested positive for Covid-19. She said in a statement that she was fully vaccinated and “basically asymptomatic,” but that she was isolating to limit the spread of the virus.
“The Delta variant seems to be much more contagious, even for those vaccinated, than initially thought,” Howard said. “Thankfully, I’m vaccinated and feeling well. But this variant is hitting the unvaccinated with severe illness and hospitalizations, particularly impacting those under 65. Vaccines work. Everyone, please get vaccinated and protect yourselves.”
Two other members testing positive who have been identified are state Reps. Celia Israel of Austin, and Trey Martinez Fischer of San Antonio; both of them had also been fully vaccinated. The remaining infected lawmakers have not released their identities, but all of them are reported to be in isolation.
A small percentage of vaccine breakthrough cases, which involve a fully-vaccinated person testing positive for the virus, have been expected, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but they do not discount the effectiveness of Coovid-19 vaccines.
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