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COVID-19 case in Texas House forces exposed members to quarantine



TX – Less than three days since the Texas House gaveled in to start the legislative session, lawmakers are self-isolating amid a possible exposure of COVID-19 on the House floor.

State Rep. Joe Deshotel, R-Beaumont, confirmed in a Facebook Live video he learned of his COVID-positive diagnosis after a rapid test outside the Capitol as he headed home Thursday afternoon. The Texas Tribune first reported Friday morning that Deshotel tested positive for the coronavirus on Thursday night.

Speaker Dade Phelan wished Deshotel well, a spokesperson confirmed in a statement Friday.

“Speaker Phelan has communicated with Rep. Deshotel to offer his well wishes and to offer him and his team any assistance they need,” a spokesperson wrote in a statement.

“I do feel fine,” Deshotel said in the video, streamed live from quarantine. “(I) feel like I’m coming down with a with a cold, some slight pain in my upper back.”

“I have no idea how I contracted it,” Deshotel, who is currently quarantining and reported minor symptoms, told the Texas Tribune. “I don’t know where it came from. It rather shocked me when the guy told me.”

Deshotel introduced Phelan at Tuesday’s proceedings, holding his facemask in his hand at the front mic.

According to the Texas Tribune, Deshotel said he was tested for the virus last Friday, then again on Thursday, and he did not get tested before entering the Capitol on Tuesday or Wednesday. According to guidance ahead of opening day of the legislative session, members were asked to take a COVID-19 test.

State Rep. Justin Holland, R-Rockwall, called Deshotel’s decision not to test before joining colleagues in the chamber “very selfish and irresponsible.”

“The 15-min free state-provided Rapid Binax Test for antigens is painless and simple,” Holland stated. “Anyone that objected to take one prior to Tuesday clearly did so out of pride. Shame on them.”

Lawmakers who came in close contact with Deshotel began the self-isolation process due to the possibility they were exposed on the House floor.