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ST PETERSBURG, Fla.—U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan said Monday he has tested positive for the COVID-19 virus even though he was fully vaccinated against the disease.
The Republican congressman’s announcement came as Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said a “seasonal pattern” affecting mainly Sun Belt states is largely to blame for a recent spike in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in Florida.
DeSantis, a Republican who opposes virus-related mandates, nonetheless said it’s important for people to get vaccinated.
Buchanan, who represents a Sarasota-based district, said in a news release he got the test recently after experiencing “very mild flu-like symptoms.” The congressman said he is quarantining at home.
“I look forward to returning to work as soon as possible,” said Buchanan, 70, who has served in Congress since 2007. “In the meantime, this should serve as a reminder that although the vaccines provide a very high-degree of protection, we must remain vigilant in the fight against COVID-19.”
The congressman’s announcement comes amid a sharp rise in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in Florida and around the country. One statistic released by the White House estimated that 20% of new cases last week occurred in Florida.
DeSantis told reporters after appearing at an unrelated environmental event Monday that the increase was expected in Florida in mid-summer. DeSantis has insisted the state will impose no more virus-related lockdowns or mandates.
DeSantis added that he thinks it’s counterproductive to berate or ridicule people who have concerns about the vaccine or simply do not want it.
Two more Texas lawmakers who left their state to hobble efforts to pass new voting restrictions have tested positive for the coronavirus, raising to five the number of infected people in the delegation.
State Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer of San Antonio said in a statement Sunday that he had tested positive. “I am quarantining until I test negative, and I am grateful to be only experiencing extremely mild symptoms,” he said.
A person familiar with the delegation said the number of infected members had risen to five. The person was not authorized to discuss the matter and requested anonymity.
More than 50 Texas lawmakers traveled to Washington on Monday aboard a private charter flight. A caucus official has said all had been vaccinated. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says “breakthrough” infections—vaccinated people becoming infected—are rare.
After a photo showed them maskless on the plane, Republicans and others criticized the lawmakers for traveling without masks. But federal pandemic guidelines don’t require masks to be worn on private aircraft.
The Democrats fled the state to deny the Republican-controlled Legislature the necessary quorum to pass the voting laws.