Gov. Mike Parson was not exhibiting any symptoms and is now in isolation

By Ashley Boucher
September 23, 2020 06:46 PM
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Mike and Teresa Parson
| Credit: David Carson/St. Louis Post-Dispatch/Tribune News Service via Getty

The governor of Missouri and his wife have tested positive for the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

Mike and Teresa Parson tested positive for the contagious respiratory virus on Wednesday, Missouri Health and Senior Services Director Dr. Randall Williams announced during a press conference.

"Today, as you've heard, First Lady Teresa Parson tested positive for COVID-19 earlier today. Governor Parson was then tested, and we have received his positive test this afternoon," Williams said, adding that the governor was taking another test to confirm the rapid results.

"It was important to the governor and the first lady to announce this news to be transparent about their situation," he said. "Health and safety of each and every patient is first and foremost the top priority, and I'm thankful to report that both the governor and first lady are doing fine."

Williams said that Teresa was only "mildly symptomatic," and that the governor was not experiencing any symptoms of COVID-19. Both are now in isolation, and will be for 10 days. Williams added that his department had begun contact tracing in conjunction with the county health department.

Missouri was named a "red zone" by the White House over the weekend, the Kansas City Star reported, and last week had the fifth-highest rate of cases per capita in the United States.

The state has had at least 119,484 reported cases of COVID-19, with more than 10,000 in the last week, according to data from the New York Times.

While the governor has encouraged Missourians to wear masks if it makes them feel more comfortable, he has been against a state-wide mask mandate — despite White House recommendations.

"You don’t need government to tell you to wear a dang mask," he said in July, ABC News reported. "If you want to wear a dang mask, wear a mask."

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The governor has also been an advocate for students returning to in-person classrooms, and said in July that if children contract the virus at school, they will "get over it."

"These kids have got to get back to school," Parson said in a July interview with local radio station KFTK. "They’re at the lowest risk possible. And if they do get [coronavirus disease] COVID-19, which they will — and they will when they go to school — they’re not going to the hospitals. They’re not going to have to sit in doctor’s offices. They’re going to go home and they’re going to get over it."

“We gotta move on,” he added at the time. "We can’t just let this thing stop us in our tracks."

On Wednesday, Williams said that people are encouraged to use hand sanitizer and practice social distancing, but said that requiring masks would not be put into place at this time.

"We certainly think that here in Missouri, one size doesn't fit all," Williams said at the press conference when asked by a reporter about a possible mask mandate. He said that people should wear masks if they are unable to social distance, or if COVID-19 is more prevalent in their community.

"We just think that if you're too draconian everywhere, that people will really — it's almost as if it creates more problems than it solves," Williams said. "But I want to be very, very clear: that we want everybody to use hand sanitizer... to social distance. It's really important... and then if you can't do that, no matter where you are in Missouri, you need to wear a mask."

The governor is currently campaigning against his Democratic opponent Nicole Galloway, who said in a call with reporters Wednesday, "this is a serious virus and no one is immune to it. It’s a reminder that it can reach anyone anywhere and this pandemic is not over," the Kansas City Star reported.

"I want everybody to know that myself and the first lady are both fine," he said in a video message shared on Facebook Wednesday. "Right now I feel fine. No symptoms of any kind. But right now we've just got to take the quarantine procedures in place."

"I want to encourage everybody what I have everyday: take care of yourselves, do the best you can to protect yourselves. Social distancing, wear a mask, personal hygiene," he added.

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