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Missouri Governor And First Lady Test Positive For COVID-19

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson (center) and First Lady Teresa Parson (right), seen in this June 2018 photograph, tested positive for the coronavirus on Wednesday.
Tim Bommel
Missouri House Communications
Missouri Gov. Mike Parson (center) and First Lady Teresa Parson (right), seen in this June 2018 photograph, tested positive for the coronavirus on Wednesday.

Missouri First Lady Teresa Parson took a rapid test for the virus Wednesday morning after experiencing mild symptoms. Gov. Parson announced his results late Wednesday.

This story is being updated as new information comes in.

Gov. Mike Parson and his wife, Teresa, tested positive for the coronavirus Wednesday, cancelling all official state business and campaigning.

Teresa Parson first tested for the virus on Wednesday after showing minor symptoms and learned of the positive result, according to a press release. Parson was then tested and learned that he was positive later in the day.

"At this time, the governor feels healthy and is displaying no symptoms, and the first lady has mild symptoms," the announcement said.

Parson said in a recorded video announcement that he isn’t experiencing any symptoms.

“Right now, I feel fine,” Parson said.

Teresa Parson posted a video on Twitter late Wednesday saying she was fine, but when she woke up with some cold-like symptoms, she decided to get tested because "we are out among the public so much."

"I want to reassure you that I'm going to take the next few days to take care of myself and I'll see you again soon," she said.

Just two days ago Parson once again refused to issue a statewide mask mandate, despite the White House Coronavirus Task Force saying Missouri should have one.

Parson repeated his opposition to a statewide order while on a visit to Kansas City on Monday, saying those decisions are best left to local governments. He has attended some public events without wearing a mask and has called them a "political issue."

At a press conference Wednesday, Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services Director Dr. Randall Williams said health officials are starting the contact tracing process.

“As you know, the governor and first lady being the public figures that they are, have traveled and engaged with the public,” Williams said. “So we were working with them and their staff to determine close contacts by definition of those who've been around them who need to be in quarantine.”

Parson also attended a GOP event in Springfield with Lt. Gov. Mike Kehoe, Attorney General Eric Schmitt, Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft and Treasurer Scott Fitzpatrick on Saturday.

Parson is being challenged by Democrat Nicole Galloway and socially-distanced campaigning is in full swing.

Galloway issued a statement saying she wished the governor and his wife "a safe and full recovery."

"This is a stark reminder that this virus can reach anyone, anywhere and that this pandemic is far from over," Galloway said. "We must all continue to do our part in preventing the spread of the virus by practicing social distancing, washing hands, and wearing a mask.”

The governor was expected in St. Louis Wednesday for a ceremonial bill signing for legislation that lifts residency requirements for city police officers and other emergency responders. That event has been canceled and will be scheduled at a later date.

I’m a veteran investigative reporter who came up through newspapers and moved to public media. I want to give people a better understanding of the criminal justice system by focusing on its deeper issues, like institutional racism, the poverty-to-prison pipeline and police accountability. Today this beat is much different from how reporters worked it in the past. I’m telling stories about people who are building significant civil rights movements and redefining public safety. Email me at lowep@kcur.org.
Aviva Okeson-Haberman was the Missouri government and politics reporter at KCUR 89.3.
Jaclyn Driscoll is the Jefferson City statehouse reporter for St. Louis Public Radio. She joined the politics team in 2019 after spending two years at the Springfield, Illinois NPR affiliate. Jaclyn covered a variety of issues at the statehouse for all of Illinois' public radio stations, but focused primarily on public health and agriculture related policy. Before joining public radio, Jaclyn reported for a couple television stations in Illinois and Iowa as a general assignment reporter.
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