This article was updated at 8 p.m. on Sunday, July 18, to include more who have tested positive for the virus.
Five of the nearly 60 House Democrats who left the Capitol for Washington, D.C. amid a legislative walkout have tested positive for COVID-19.
The lawmakers, who traveled out of state to break quorum on Gov. Greg Abbott's special legislative session, were all fully vaccinated. One is showing symptoms.
The Texas House Democratic Caucus announced that one member of the traveling crew tested positive on Friday evening, spurring on a mass rapid test rollout among the remaining lawmakers. Two more legislators tested positive with the rapid antigen tests on Saturday, and two more followed on Sunday evening.
Two more House Dems in DC have tested positive for COVID, per @TexasHDC. Both were fully vaccinated. #txlegepic.twitter.com/IbiwKhBDC5
— Patrick Svitek (@PatrickSvitek) July 19, 2021
All members show no or mild symptoms, and the Democratic Caucus said they would begin administering daily COVID tests following the positive test results. Those with COVID will take the more accurate PCR test and will quarantine for 10 days before testing once more, the Austin-American Statesman reported.
While the HDC did not disclose which representatives tested positive, Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer released a statement after his positive result.
.@TMFtx says he tested positive today: pic.twitter.com/i3XHStjdQ0
— Patrick Svitek (@PatrickSvitek) July 19, 2021
Fischer thanked those who wished the lawmakers well and stood by the House Democrats' decision to leave Abbott's special session amid a new voter restriction bill.
Just as these new variants sweeping the country are more aggressive than ever, the wave of anti-voter legislation is worse than we've seen in generations," Fischer said. "That's why I will continue the fight for voting rights with every fiber of my being."
The remaining members of the group, who are mostly staying at the same hotel, said they will follow CDC guidance and begin utilizing more masks and other safety precautions, which were used sparingly on the trip before the positive test results. Because all members have been vaccinated, other lawmakers who came into contact with the trio will only isolate if they begin to show symptoms as per CDC protocol, chairman of the House Democratic Caucus Rep. Chris Turner said in a statement.
The news comes as Travis County once again ramped up risk-based guidelines following a spike in COVID cases and hospitalizations. Austin Public Health officials at least partially blame the spike on the highly-contagious Delta variant which has been found in the county.
While vaccines can help curb complications and positive COVID-19 tests, Turner acknowledged that the tests prove threat of the virus has not been completely erased.
"This is a sober reminder that COVID is still with us, and though vaccinations offer tremendous protection, we still must take necessary precautions," Turner said. "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."
Back in Texas, Speaker of the House Dade Phelan sent his regards to the Democratic legislators in the following statement:
"Kim and I extend our prayers for safety and health for the members of the Texas House Democratic Caucus who tested positive for COVID-19 while in Washington, D.C. My staff has reached out to Dr. John Hellerstedt, commissioner of the Texas Department of State Health Services, and his epidemiology team for any additional guidance on protocols for those exposed to COVID-19 post-vaccination."
New COVID cases have increased in every U.S. state as the variant becomes the dominant strain in the country. Austin was the first Texas metro to raise COVID restrictions since mask mandates were reversed by Gov. Greg Abbott in March, but other U.S. cities including Los Angeles and Las Vegas have done the same.
For more information on the recent spike of cases in Austin, click here.
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An Arizona home builder, Next Metro Communities, plans to establish a neighborhood by the name of Avilla Rio Oaks in Liberty Hill, north of Austin. But there will be no homes for sale. 260 single-family rental homes will sit in the 25-acre development.
NexMetro has put forth two other projects near Austin, one in Liberty Hill and another in Georgetown. In total, the company is investing $164 million in the Austin metro with 634 rental homes across three communities.
In a press release on the first two communities, Jason Flory, managing director for NexMetro Communities' Austin Division, described the Austin area as an ideal location for Avilla Homes neighborhoods.
"Our expansion into Central Texas validates the tremendous appeal of this hybrid housing offering to consumers of all walks of life," Flory said. "We continue to look at new site locations in greater Austin because we know there is tremendous consumer appeal and demand."
The popularity of rental homes in the Austin area and elsewhere comes from a desire of residents to have a home that doesn’t require a mortgage.
For example, a RentCafe report from earlier this year says the need for space and privacy is driving the trend and notes that built-to-rent homes are expected to hit an all-time high in 2022. With 1,390 single-family rentals in the Austin metro, the area ranked No. 13 on the report’s list of metros with the greatest number of those homes.
The growth in built-to-rent homes isn’t slowing down. This summer saw announcements for other rental neighborhoods in Round Rock and another in Leander.
The Avilla Rio Oaks neighborhood is set to kick off site work soon near County Road 263 and Seward Junction Loop. It’ll include homes with one to three bedrooms that are single-level and between 700 and 1,265 square feet. Each one will include a private backyard, a front porch, granite countertops and stainless steel appliances.
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Camp Fimfo Waco, a brand new camping resort, is kicking off football and fall camping season in style! With top-notch amenities, premium accommodations, and 10 weekends of fall fun, there’s no better place to have a fall camping getaway, especially if you’re a Baylor football fan!
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Packages and Ways to Stay
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Amenities and Activities
Camp Fimfo Waco
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