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3 Texas Democrats who fled elections bill vote get COVID

WASHINGTON (AP) — Three of the Democratic state lawmakers who fled Texas to stymie a Republican-backed effort to impose broad new voting restrictions have tested positive for COVID-19, the Texas House’s Democratic caucus said Saturday.

One lawmaker tested positive on Friday and the other two did so on Saturday, the caucus said in a statement. It said all three were fully vaccinated against the disease. It didn’t release their names or conditions to “respect the privacy of Members and their personal health.”

“This is a sober reminder that COVID is still with us, and though vaccinations offer tremendous protection, we still must take necessary precautions,” caucus Chairman Chris Turner said in the statement, adding that the caucus was conferring with health experts in Texas to get additional guidance.

Turner didn’t immediately reply to a message seeking further information about the outbreak.

More than 50 Texas lawmakers arrived in Washington on Monday after leaving their home state on a private charter flight. They received criticism from Republicans and others after a photo showed them mask-less on the plane, though federal pandemic guidelines don’t require masks to be worn on private aircraft.

The Democrats left the state to deny the Republican-controlled Legislature the necessary quorum to pass a bill that would place new restrictions on voting in Texas.

Members of the caucus have met with Vice President Kamala Harris, but it was not immediately known whether the three who contracted COVID-19 did so. Harris’ office said it would issue a statement later Saturday.

Texas House Speaker Dade McPhelan, a Republican, issued a statement saying he and his wife were praying for the health and safety of the sick lawmakers.

“My staff has reached out to Dr. John Hellerstedt, Commissioner of the Texas Department of State Health Services, and his epidemiology team for any additional guidance on protocols for those exposed to COVID-19 post-vaccination,” Phelan wrote.


Miller contributed to this report from Oklahoma City.

Darlene Superville And Ken Miller, The Associated Press