COVID-19 derails Texas Democrats lobbying in Washington

Texas lawmakers who hightailed it to the nation’s capital in a faceoff over voting rights say they are pressing on with their mission to bolster their cause, even as COVID-19 spreads through their ranks

AUSTIN, Texas — Texas lawmakers who hightailed it to the nation’s capital in a faceoff over voting rights said Tuesday that they’re pressing on with their mission to get Democrats in Washington, D.C., to bolster their cause, even as COVID-19 spreads through their ranks.

During a news conference Tuesday, the Texas Democrats said they remain optimistic about their cause, even after their Monday night town hall on MSNBC was scaled back because of the positive test results.

“I do believe we are being very innovative and we are rising to respond to these challenges,” Democratic state Rep. Ron Reynolds said.

State Rep. Donna Howard confirmed Tuesday that she tested positive for COVID-19. She said in a statement that she is fully vaccinated and “basically asymptomatic,” but that she is 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.”

One of the two Washington staffers who tested positive works in the office of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. 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.

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Associated Press writers Alan Fram, Darlene Superville and Zeke Miller in Washington, D.C., contributed to this report.

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Acacia Coronado is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.

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