The White House refused to call a visit by Texas lawmakers a "superspreader" event despite more than 10% of the traveling party testing positive for COVID-19.
Texas House Democrats fled the Lone Star State to prevent Republicans from passing a new voting rights law. They flew to Washington, D.C., many of them sharing the same charter jet. They even posted maskless selfies.
This week, a coronavirus outbreak spread to at least six of the 55 lawmakers and to two people who interacted with them.
"That is not a characterization we’re making here," White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Tuesday after being asked if the "superspreader" term applied to the Texas lawmakers’ situation.
"Vaccines are not foolproof. We know vaccines – I think these individuals have been vaccinated. That is a good sign."
At least one doctor said the term "superspreader" was a fair description of what happened.
"A lot of people didn't get sick because they were vaccinated," Dr. Marc Siegel told Fox News. "This is a superspreader event with less spread because of the vaccine – that's the glass half full."
Texas state Rep. Gene Wu tweeted the traveling party "got sloppy."
"All of us had been fully vaccinated since March," Wu tweeted Monday. "We got complacent because we felt safe. We had no positives for months, and we got sloppy."
The Texas lawmakers traveled to Washington to lobby the Senate for a Democrat-sponsored voting bill that would stop the type of legislation that Republicans are supporting in states around the country.
The lawmakers’ trip meant the Texas state legislature was left without a quorum, meaning the GOP majority can’t vote on the bill, even though it likely would pass.
An unnamed White House official and a staff member for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., have tested positive for COVID-19 after attending a reception with Texas lawmakers last week, Axios reported Tuesday.
Siegel said everyone at the reception would have been at risk if no one had been vaccinated. He added none of the vaccinated victims had shown serious symptoms.
"[The White House is] creating divisiveness by refusing to acknowledge a medical reality," Siegel told Fox News.
A superspreader event, as described by a Cleveland Clinic, is when "there’s a greater amount of transmission than would be expected" at a large event.
Vaccinated individuals who still manage to contract "breakthrough" coronavirus infections see a lower level of the virus in their system – the nostrils in particular, Siegel told Fox News.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Tuesday the Delta variant of coronavirus continues to surge and accounts for an estimated 83% of U.S. COVID-19 cases.
That’s a dramatic increase from the week of July 3, when the variant accounted for about 50% of genetically sequenced coronavirus cases.
"The best way to prevent the spread of COVID-19 variants is to prevent the spread of disease, and vaccination is the most powerful tool we have," CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said during a Senate hearing.
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