Texas Dems move voting bill protests to virtual after positive COVID-19 tests

Texas House Democratic Caucus Chairman Chris Turner called the positive test results "a sober reminder that COVID is still with us."

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The Texas Democrats who are currently in Washington D.C. after fleeing their state to delay a bill that would restrict voter rights will hold a virtual conference after three lawmakers tested positive for COVID-19. 

The lawmakers who contracted the virus are fully vaccinated. 

Texas House Democratic Caucus Chairman Chris Turner (above) called the positive test results of his colleagues “a sober reminder that COVID is still with us.” (Photo by Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

In a statement, Texas House Democratic Caucus Chairman Chris Turner called the positive test results “a sober reminder that COVID is still with us.” He noted that even fully vaccinated Americans must continue to take precautions. 

“The House Democratic Caucus is following all [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] guidance and protocols. … We are in touch with public health experts in Texas to provide additional guidance. Our caucus will follow all recommendations from public health experts as we continue our work,” Turner said. 

One of the representatives who tested positive self-identified and offered a statement to The Washington Post. Rep. Celia Israel said, “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.” 

Israel — who is now in quarantine — added, “I urge anyone not yet vaccinated to do so as soon as possible to help stop the spread … More importantly, I hope this instance highlights the sacrifices we’re willing to make for the cause of democracy. I would not change anything to protect the right to vote.”

This week, those Democrats from Texas will helm a week-long virtual conference on voter rights co-organized by the Latino group Mi Familia Vota and Service Employees International Union. Speakers will include influential civil rights activists and lawmakers. 

Labor leader Dolores Huerta will open the conference today, and U.S. congressional members Sheila Jackson-Lee and Joaquin Castro, who both represent Texas, will also participate in the coming days. Several Democratic secretaries of state, election officials and other lawmakers are scheduled to be sharing and strategizing. 

Seventeen states have passed laws that restrict access to voting in the wake of “the big lie” about widespread fraud in the 2020 presidential election, and that number is expected to grow as state Republican legislators continue to push restrictive bills through. 

The 51 Texas legislators have been in Washington for over a week since fleeing their state in order to deny quorum to their Republican counterparts before the expiration of Texas Governor Greg Abbott‘s special legislative session. Their tactic prevents a vote on a bill that would make it harder for Texans to vote by mail, bans drive-through voting and gives more power to partisan poll-watchers.

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