A Texas Democrat pictured prominently without a mask on a private jet last week fleeing to Washington, D.C. is now calling for universal face coverings regardless of vaccination status after she and five others in the group tested positive for COVID-19.
‘We need to follow the science here,’ Texas Representative Donna Howard tweeted Wednesday. ‘Texas needs to change course and allow for universal mask-wearing to prevent spread of the highly contagious delta variant, esp as children under 12 cannot get vaccinated yet.’
Another one of the runaway Democrats announced Tuesday she is running for Congress against Republican incumbent Beth Van Duyne, who represents congressional district 24, which falls between Dallas and Fort Worth.
Texas State Representative Michelle Beckley released a video from her $200-per-night hotel room in the nation’s capital where she called herself ‘brave’ for fleeing Texas to stop Republicans‘ from passing two voter rights bills.
‘My name is Michelle Beckley. I’m one of the brave Texas Democrats who came to D.C. to fight for voting rights in my state. Now, I’m fighting to flip a seat held by an anti-democracy Republican,’ she tweeted Wednesday after releasing her campaign video.
She then urged more people to follow her: ‘I have 28,500. Can you help us get to 50,000 followers?’
Van Duyne responded on Fox News on Wednesday.
‘Democracy is actually, when you get elected, showing up and doing your job,’ she said. ‘I think democracy is if you are an elected official you have to show up.’
She added: ‘When you are an empty seat, they have no voice. I’m up here in Washington right now, doing my job.’
It’s estimated the cost to keep the few dozen lawmakers in D.C. through the special legislative session, which ends August 7, sits around $1.5 million, according to one of the Texas Democrats.
Howard and the around 60 other runaways did not mask up for the trip on their private jets chartered at $100,000 – despite Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommending people still mask up on planes, trains and buses.
Texas State Rep. Donna Howard is now calling for the Lone Star State to mandate masks regardless of vaccination status after six in her group of runaway Democrats tested positive for coronavirus
Howard (pictured left) was among the group of around 60 Texas Democratic lawmakers last Monday who fled from Austin to Washington D.C. on two private jets chartered at $100,000 – none wearing masks
Another Texas Democrat, Michelle Beckley, posted a video Tuesday announcing she is running for Congress in Texas’ 24th district, which is currently represented by Republican Representative Beth Van Duyne
On Friday, one lawmaker tested positive for coronavirus, followed by two more on Saturday morning. When the weekend was through, a total of six lawmakers had tested positive for coronavirus.
All six, the Texas Democratic caucus said, were vaccinated.
Howard, who’s state district is in Austin, was the sixth and latest to test positive. She is a former nurse who helped determine safety protocols for lawmakers after an initial COVID-19 case was reported on Friday.
Following the positive test on Monday, Howard said she is ‘basically asymptomatic’ and plans to isolate.
‘Despite following CDC guidelines and being fully vaccinated, I tested positive for COVID-19 on Monday,’ she said in a statement. ‘The delta variant seems to be much more contagious, even for those vaccinated, than initially thought.’
‘Thankfully, I’m vaccinated and feeling well,’ she added. ‘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.’
Before the diagnoses, the group met with several lawmakers on Capitol Hill, as well as Vice President Kamala Harris, upon arriving in Washington, D.C. last week.
‘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!’
COVID cases have been surging in nearly all U.S. states – and in Congress – with the emergence of the Delta variant, which was first detected in India.
Some areas of the country, like Los Angeles, have reimplemented mask mandates for vaccinated and unvaccinated.
The coronavirus Delta variant has been detected in the U.S. Capitol building, officials revealed on Tuesday.
Beckley called herself ‘brave’ for fleeing with other Democrats to break quorum and block Republicans from passing two voter rights bills
The White House also admitted there have been more COVID breakthrough cases among staff than publicly announced.
‘The Delta variant virus has been detected in Washington, DC and in the Capitol buildings,’ Dr. Brian P. Monahan, the attending physician of the Capitol wrote in a memo obtained by DailyMail.com.
He said ‘several’ aides who have been vaccinated have tested positive for COVID. Republican Rep. Vern Buchanan announced on Monday he had tested positive for COVID despite being vaccinated.
‘Several vaccinated Congressional staff members and 1 Member of Congress have acquired infection,’ Monahan wrote.
He advised staff to consider wearing face masks as an additional source of protection but noted it is not required by the CDC.
‘Vaccinated individuals seeking to further reduce their risk of disease, or further reduce potential risk of transmitting disease to vulnerable household members, may consider additional protective actions such as wearing a well-fitted, medical-grade filtration mask when they are in a crowded or interior location,’ he said.
Several lawmakers, including Speaker Nancy Pelosi, staff members and members of the media were seen wearing face masks in the Capitol on Tuesday.
Additionally on Tuesday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki confirmed there have been other break through cases in the administration but declined to offer details or numbers, saying they had only committed to revealing cases among high-level White House staff.
‘We had also committed during the transition that – I think there’s hundreds of thousands of people who work on the federal government as you all know – and we committed during the transition, that if it was a commissioned officer, which who are the highest level ranking people in the White House and in the administration, in this building here, that we would make that information publicly available,’ she said.
The Delta variant is widely contagious and is causing a 224% spike in cases in the United States. The current vaccines are effective against it. Health officials note that breakthrough COVID cases for vaccinated individuals result in much milder symptoms than for the unvaccinated.
Both the Pelosi staffer and the White House aide were fully vaccinated. The speaker’s office and the White House are taking precautions in the aftermath. Some Pelosi staff are working from home and the White House is conducting contact tracing.
‘Yesterday, 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. This individual has had no contact with the Speaker since exposure,’ said Pelosi spokesperson Drew Hammill in a statement to DailyMail.com.
‘The entire Press Office is working remotely today with the exception of individuals who have had no exposure to the individual or have had a recent negative test. Our office will continue to follow the guidance of the Office of Attending Physician closely,’ he added.
Axios first reported the news of the positive tests, reporting it happened after the staffers attended the same rooftop reception with members of the Texas Democratic delegation at the Hotel Eaton last Wednesday night. The downtown DC hotel has a popular rooftop bar.
Six members of the Texas Democratic delegation, who have fled their state to hold up a vote on voting rights legislation, have tested positive for COVID since arriving in Washington D.C.
COVID cases are on the rise across the United States. The U.S. recorded 52,111 new cases on Monday with a seven-day rolling average of 34,682, which is a 224 percent increase from the 10,678 average recorded three weeks ago.
Nearly every state – aside from Montana and Iowa – and the District of Columbia have seen infections rise in the last week, according to a DailyMail.com analysis of Johns Hopkins data.
Several lawmakers wore masks on Capitol Hill on Tuesday as the Delta variant was detected on the campus
Speaker Pelosi was seen wearing a face mask in the Capitol on Tuesday
The U.S. recorded 52,111 new COVID-19 cases on Monday with a seven-day rolling average of 34,682, which is a 224% increase from the 10,678 average recorded three weeks ago
Texas Democrats posted a pic on Tuesday of their virtual meeting with House Democratic Leader Jim Clyburn
‘In accordance with our rigorous COVID-19 protocols, the official remains off campus as they wait for a confirmatory PCR test. The White House Medical Unit has conducted contact tracing interviews and determined no close contacts among White House principals and staff. The individual has mild symptoms.’
The official added: ‘The White House is prepared for breakthrough cases with regular testing. This is another reminder of the efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccines against severe illness or hospitalization. We wish our colleague a speedy recovery.’
White House staffers have been vaccinated for COVID but are also regularly tested.
Psaki noted there precautions in place on the White House campus, which makes up the West Wing and the Eisenhower Executive Office Building. She said she is tested twice a week.
‘Regular testing of those surrounding and meeting with the president,’ she pointed out. ‘For those who have closer proximity, they are tested more regularly than those who have less proximity, ensuring those interact with the president are following the CDC guidance regarding mask wearing and distancing actively.’
She added the administration is ‘monitoring the health of our campus in the larger community in collaboration with public health and medical experts. We have a robust infrastructure to ensure compliance with these protocols, and we’re asking staff to also monitor themselves for symptoms and stay off campus if they develop symptoms.’
If the variant follows the same trajectory as the UK, it is estimated that Delta will account for all new infections by mid-August
Nearly every state – aside from Montana and Iowa – and the District of Columbia have seen infections rise in the last week
Meanwhile, Republican Congressman Steve Scalise announced his got his first vaccine COVID shot on Sunday.
‘With the delta variant becoming a lot more aggressive and seeing another spike, it was a good time to do it,’ he told his local newspaper, which featured a photo of him getting his shot.
And Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, who had polio as a child, issued a stern warning on Tuesday: ‘These shots need to get in everybody’s arm as rapidly as possible or we’re going to be back in a situation in the fall… that we were in last year.’
A sixth Texas Democrat tested positive for COVID-19 on Monday, their caucus confirmed, meaning that around 10 per cent of those who fled the state a week ago to prevent the passage of a voting rights bill are now infected.
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.
Democratic Rep. Al Green wears a face mask in a committee hearing on Tuesday
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
A White House staffer and one in Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office tested positive for COVID after attending an event with Texas Democrats at Hotel Eaton – whose rooftop deck is seen above
HOW LIKELY ARE YOU TO GET COVID-19 AFTER BEING FULLY VACCINATED?
So-called ‘breakthrough’ COVID-19 cases occur when people contract the disease 14 days or more after receiving their second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine or the Johnson & Johnson one-shot jab.
Clinical trials have shown that Pfizer-BioNTech’s vaccine is 95% effective in preventing symptomatic disease and the Moderna vaccine is 94.5% effective.
Meanwhile, real-world data showed the Pfizer jab is 91% effective against all disease for at least six months and the Moderna vaccine is 90% effective.
This means that fully vaccinated people are between 90% and 95% less likely to develop COVID-19 than unvaccinated people.
In addition, Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine trials showed 72% efficacy in the U.S., meaning those who got the one-shot jab are 72% less likely to contract the disease.
When comparing fully vaccinated people who did and did not get sick, the risk is even lower.
The most recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data show that 10,262 of at least 133 million Americans who have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 later contracted the disease.
This translates to 0.00716% of people who have completed their vaccine series have gone on to test positive.
It also represents the true odds of getting COVID-19 after full vaccination: less than 0.01%.
What’s more, fully vaccinated people who test positive have mild illnesses, and are very unlikely to be hospitalized or die.
The CDC states that 99.5% of all deaths occur in unvaccinated people.
That means, if the figure applies to the 3,165 Americans who’ve died in July 2021 so far – as of July 13 – about 3,150 deaths would be among unvaccinated people and 15 deaths among fully vaccinated people.
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.
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
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 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.
‘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
Harris raised eyebrows when she said that she did not need to quarantine after meeting with the lawmakers Tuesday 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.’