BREAKING NEWS: Delta variant hits Congress: Capitol physician reveals SEVERAL fully-vaccinated aides and at least one lawmaker have tested positive for COVID – along with ‘multiple’ White House staffers and six runaway Texas Democrats
Texas Dems. Flew Without mask protection. Reported: All 55 have tested positive as have some that have met with the group.
A White House staffer and one in Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office tested positive for COVID after attending an event with Texas Democrats Both staffers were fully vaccinated.
The Delta variant of the coronavirus has been detected in the U.S. Capitol building, officials revealed on Tuesday, while the White House 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 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.
‘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.’
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.
The Democrats left the Lone Star State in order to prevent Republicans in the state legislature passing election integrity legislation that the Democrats were against.
Their departure paralyzed the Texas state house because the legislature requires a quorum of two-thirds of lawmakers be present to conduct business.
But six of the runaways have now been stricken with COVID after they packed onto private jets without masks and fled to Washington, D.C.
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.
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.
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.