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Double standard? Infected Texas Democrat truants accorded medical privacy denied Republicans

Lawmakers fled the state last week in bid to stymie GOP election reform push in legislature.

Published: July 20, 2021 1:24pm

Updated: July 21, 2021 10:57pm

Texas Democratic leadership continues to shield the identities of multiple, truant state representatives who have tested positive for SARS-Cov-2, even as the virus continues to spread among individuals who have had contact with the self-exiled legislators.

It's a sharp contrast to the treatment many Republicans and conservatives received over the past year, when the positive COVID tests of multiple GOP members were covered aggressively by the media. 

The COVID-positive Texas lawmakers are among the roughly 50 Democrats who fled their state for Washington in a bid to preempt a vote on GOP election reform legislation. Their  identities remain mostly shrouded in mystery, although some have come forward voluntarily to reveal their positive test results. 

The Texas House Democratic caucus has told media it is refusing to release the names on its own, citing privacy concerns. Media outlets appear to have made little effort to learn those identities.

In contrast, GOP politicians over the past year have been subject to heavy scrutiny where COVID-positive tests are concerned.

For instance, Forbes in November noted that nearly three-quarters of Congressional representatives who had tested positive for the virus at the time were Republicans, which the publication said was "an indication the party's laxer approach to social distancing and mask wearing has put GOP lawmakers at increased risk of contracting the disease."

Reuters, meanwhile, in October gave a named rundown of "White House staff [and] top Republicans" who had tested positive for the virus. 

Much criticism was also directed at the so-called "superspreader event" at the White House in early October, when then-President Donald Trump announced Amy Coney Barrett as his nominee to the Supreme Court. Multiple attendees subsequently tested positive for the virus, although none were reported as serious infections. 

A similar "superspreader" dynamic appears to be playing out in the nation's capital this week. Multiple officials who have met with the Texas Democrats — including an aide at the White House and a spokesman in Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi's office — have since tested positive for the coronavirus. 

The COVID-positive members of the Texas contingent as well as the White House and Pelosi staffers are all reportedly vaccinated against the virus. Texas Democrats did not respond to requests for comment on the matter. 

The fleeing state legislators made headlines last week when they departed Austin aboard a private jet to deplane in Washington in a bid to block Texas GOP efforts to enact modest reforms of the state's voting system. The Democrats have met with key allies in Washington, including Vice President Kamala Harris, to help promote Democratic legislative efforts to federalize election rules historically set by states as prescribed in the Constitution. 

Harris reportedly tested negative for the virus shortly after meeting with the Texas Democrats. 

The CDC states that fully vaccinated individuals who have "been around someone who has COVID-19 ... do not need to stay away from others or get tested" unless they develop symptoms post-exposure. 

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