On Monday, 57 Texas lawmakers boarded planes for Washington, D.C.

Legislators, the bulk Democratic Delegation of the House of Representatives of Texas, fled their state in hopes of stopping voting on bills that would change the timing and ways state citizens can vote, as well as the experience Texas can have when voting. Democrats say the proposed laws will have a very real opportunity to suppress and intimidate voters; for example, one measure in question will allow untrained and armed observers to be close enough to voters to see how they vote.

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On Saturday, this evolving political story quickly entered the realm of a protracted pandemic when three Texas Democrats announced testing for COVID-19.

Read more: In Texas, Democrats are campaigning against voting restrictions

All three deputies were vaccinated, according to their representatives, as were most other members of the Texas House of Representatives. Among those who passed the test on Saturday was Celia Israel, 57, a Democrat who represented an area that includes Austin and the surrounding suburbs. the area where colored residents make up the majority of residents reports one of the highest vaccinations rates in the state. It consists mainly of Travis County, where 61.84% of residents over the age of 12, like their representative, have been fully vaccinated. In the state, about 59% of all Texas residents in this age range have been fully vaccinated.

“Let this be a reminder that COVID-19 still remains among us, with the level of infection rising and the number of infectious variants spreading across the country,” Israel said in a statement issued Saturday night. “Although I have fully followed the CDC guidelines and been fully vaccinated, this will not 100% prevent infection.

“Fortunately, I’m fine and I hope to survive the infection with mild symptoms. I am currently in quarantine until I get a negative test. I urge those who have not been vaccinated to do so as soon as possible to help stop the spread. “


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The Democratic House caucus did not identify two other members of the delegation who tested positive for coronavirus. (I was warned about the status of Israel because I was in masks at the time of this week’s reporting, but I was in close contact with it.) option “Delta” and slowing down the rate of vaccinations. On Thursday, Austin officials tightened city guidelines for COVID-19 in response to an alarming jump in cases.

Read more: Texas was already one of the most difficult states to vote for. This can get even harder

In addition to news of positive tests, outlets such as Fox News, as well as political opponents of MPs, highlighted images of lawmakers on a charter flight from Texas to Washington, DC, where many did not appear to be wearing masks. Although commercial airlines require all passengers to wear masks during flights, the current CDC guidelines do not recommend them to those who have been fully vaccinated. Outbreaks of COVID-19 are possible even after vaccination, as would be the case with any vaccine, but there is evidence that these cases may be less severe. The AP analysis found that about 99% of COVID-19 hospitalizations in the United States in May were among unvaccinated people.

Israel also thanked its Republican and Democratic counterparts for the kind wishes and concerns expressed by some about her and her partner, whom Israel planned to marry on Thursday in the floor of the Texas House of Representatives before the delegation decided to flee the state.

“Most importantly, I hope that this example highlights the sacrifices we are willing to make for democracy,” she said in a statement. “I would not change anything to protect the right to vote.”

Correction, July 18
The original version of this story distorted how many Texas lawmakers fled to Washington, D.C. In total, there were 57, not 51.

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