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Missouri Gov. Mike Parson Says He Does Not 'Feel Guilty' For Coronavirus Spike Since State Reopened

Missouri's Republican governor, Mike Parson, has been supportive of restricting abortions in the state.
Charlie Riedel
Missouri's Republican governor, Mike Parson, has repeatedly invoked the need for citizens to have "personal responsibility" during COVID-19 reopening.

Three days since Parson declared the state fully reopened have set records for single-day increases in cases, including Tuesday, which saw 434 new confirmed cases.

With confirmed COVID-19 cases rising as Missouri reopens, Gov. Mike Parson on Tuesday deflected personal responsibility for the increase.

At a press briefing Tuesday afternoon, Parson compared the virus to the flu and to automobile accidents.

“I don’t know that any one person is responsible for that no more than anybody else standing out here in this hallway,” Parson said.

"Do I feel guilty because we have car accidents, and people die every day? No, I don't feel guilty about that. Each person that gets in those situations, things happen like that in life, they do."

The governor also directly questioned the reporter who posed the question, Caroline Dade with Columbia NBC affiliate KOMU 8.

Parson asked if she felt responsibility for her reporting, to which Dade responded, "I feel responsibility if I report inaccuracies but that's not what we're talking about here."

The back-and-forth comes a week after Parson announced the state was fully reopened. In that time, confirmed COVID-19 cases have increased by more than 2,000, to a total of 18,577, according to the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services.

Three of those days have set records for single-day increases in cases, including Tuesday, which saw 434 new confirmed cases.

At the same press briefing Tuesday, DHSS Director Randall Williams attributed a large portion of the new cases to southwestern Missouri. Jasper, McDonald and Newton counties have all seen a sharp rise in confirmed infections related to poultry processing plants in the region.

Since Missouri’s first confirmed COVID-19 case in March, the governor has repeatedly spoken about the importance of individuals’ personal responsibility to follow social distancing guidelines and take precautions.

Parson has resisted instituting state-wide restrictions on businesses and gatherings, instead deferring to local health departments.

Sebastián Martínez Valdivia is a health reporter and documentary filmmaker who focuses on access to care in rural and immigrant communities. A native Spanish speaker and lifelong Missouri resident, Sebastián is interested in the often overlooked and under-covered world of immigrant life in the rural midwest. He has a bachelor's degree in broadcast journalism from the University of Missouri and a master's degree in documentary journalism at the same institution. Aside from public health, his other interests include conservation, climate change and ecology.
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