A Democratic Texas state lawmaker who was one of six to test positive for coronavirus called for Texas to reinstitute a universal mask mandate Wednesday — despite being photographed barefaced on the private plane that flew the delegation to Washington, DC last week.
“We need to follow the science here,” tweeted state Rep. Donna Howard, who tested positive for the virus along with five of her fellow high-flying Democrats between Friday and Monday. “Texas needs to change course and allow for universal mask-wearing to prevent spread of the highly contagious delta variant, esp[ecially] as children under 12 cannot get vaccinated yet.”
Twitter users were quick to point out that Howard posed for pictures alongside her fellow lawmakers on the July 12 flight from Austin to the nation’s capital with nary a face covering to be seen. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) currently requires that travelers mask up on public planes, trains and buses, but that authority does not extend to chartered planes.
This is not the first time Howard has gone viral for all the wrong reasons during her trip to Washington. Last week, she tweeted a picture of her wet laundry hanging from a hotel room’s shower curtain rod in an effort to convey the “sacrifice” being made by the Democratic legislators.
On Tuesday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office announced that one of the California Democrat’s aides had tested positive for coronavirus after coming in contact with members of the Texas delegation last week. On the same day, the White House announced that one of its staffers had tested positive, with press secretary Jen Psaki saying the person was experiencing “mild symptoms.”
Psaki also disclosed Tuesday that “there have been” additional “breakthrough” coronavirus infections among vaccinated White House staffers, but she would not say how many or when they were detected.
Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott lifted his state’s mask mandate in March of this year and has shown no inclination to reinstate it.
“We’re past the time of government mandates,” Abbott told reporters in Houston Wednesday. “We’re into the time for personal responsibility, and that’s exactly what we will do.”
At least 51 members of the Texas House of Representatives and nine state senators fled the Lone Star State for Washington last week in order to prevent the passage of a controversial election reform bill by denying the House a quorum during a 30-day special session that began July 13. The lawmakers met with Democratic members of Congress and Vice President Kamala Harris last week to push for the passage of two stalled federal election reform bills.
Abbott, for his part, has threatened to arrest the lawmakers upon their return to Texas and lock them in the legislative chambers so they can consider the election legislation and other measures. The governor has also vowed to continue calling special sessions until next year’s elections.