JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Mike Parson has tested positive for coronavirus, the Missouri governor said Wednesday.
The news comes just hours after a spokesperson for the governor confirmed that Parson’s wife, Teresa Parson, had also tested positive for the virus.
The governor’s office said the first lady began showed mild symptoms and got a rapid test Wednesday morning. After her positive test result, the governor got tested as well and received a positive test as well. Gov. Parson said he feels healthy and is not displaying any symptoms.
The governor’s staff has also been tested and is awaiting results, Parson said, and Dr. Randall Williams, Missouri’s health director, has implemented proper safety protocols.
Parson said all official and campaign events have now been canceled until further notice, but he will continue to fulfill all business from the Governor’s Mansion. His wife is isolating at their home in Bolivar, Missouri.
Parson has repeatedly urged residents to wear masks and maintain social distancing, but he has been an outspoken opponent of mask mandates, sometimes appearing at functions without one.
His opposition to statewide mask mandates continued even after the White House Coronavirus Task Force recommended a face covering requirement in Missouri as the state’s number of COVID-19 cases climbed.
The governor attended several public events in recent days. On Monday, he visited Kansas City to sign House Bill 66, Missouri’s first witness protection program. On Tuesday, he attended the Paynes Valley Cup, an event hosted by Tiger Woods and Johnny Morris, near Branson.
Williams said contact tracing efforts have begun, seeking out people who have had close contact with the governor or his wife, but despite Parson’s many recent public appearances, it is believed that involves “a relatively small number of people.”
“Surprisingly it’s not as big a number as you might think because while they might be in a room with 1,000 people, the number of people who were literally with them for 15 minutes, right up next to them, is actually a smaller number,” Williams said at a news conference.
The state health department on Wednesday added 1,580 new coronavirus cases, bringing the total to 116,946 since the pandemic began.
The state also has reported 1,947 deaths, including 83 reported Wednesday. That single-day total was the highest since the pandemic began.
Asked Wednesday whether it was time for a statewide mask mandate, Parson’s health director again deferred those decisions to local officials.
“We just think that if you’re too draconian everywhere … it’s almost as if it creates more problems than it solves,” Williams said.
State Auditor Nicole Galloway, who is running against Parson for governor this November, issued the following statement:
“I wish Governor Parson and First Lady Teresa Parson 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. 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.”