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Gov. Parson, first lady test positive for COVID-19

  

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Gov. Mike Parson and first lady Teresa Parson have tested positive for COVID-19, the couple announced Wednesday. 

The governor has cleared his schedule for the week and is in isolation for 10 days — as is state protocol — at the Governor’s Mansion in Jefferson City, Department of Health and Senior Services Director Randall Williams said during an afternoon press conference. Parson is continuing to fulfill all of his duties as governor from the mansion, Williams said.

The first lady is in isolation at their home in Bolivar. She said she “got up today with some cold-like symptoms” and decided to get tested.

The first lady is “mildly symptomatic,” but the Republican chief executive remains asymptomatic, Williams said.

“I want everybody to know that myself and the first lady are both fine,” Parson said in a video posted to social media. “We’re going to start the process of what we need to do moving forward here.”

A debate between Parson and Democratic challenger Nicole Galloway, scheduled for Friday, has been postponed. 

While the health department typically does not reveal the names of individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19, Williams said it was “important” for the couple “to be transparent about their situation.”

Teresa Parson reached out to the health department Wednesday morning because she was experiencing some symptoms, Williams said.

More than 116,000 Missourians have tested positive for coronavirus in all this year, including about 1,400 in Cole County where Jefferson City and the Governor’s Mansion is located. About 500 people in all have tested positive in Polk County where the governor and first lady are from.

The health department is working with both the governor’s and first lady’s staff to determine who has been in close contact with the couple and should quarantine. Williams defined “close contact” as someone who has spent at least 15 minutes within 6 feet of sustained contact with an infected person.

“Our preliminary information shows this will be a relatively small number of people who meet this criterion of sustained contact,” Williams said.

Following the news, elected officials in Missouri offered prayers and words of encouragement.

“I wish Governor Parson and First Lady Teresa Parson a safe and full recovery,” said Galloway. “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.”

“House Democrats are thankful the governor and first lady are experiencing few symptoms and hope they have quick and complete recoveries,” House Minority Leader Crystal Quade said. “By now nearly all of us have had at least one family member, friend, neighbor or coworker who has contracted COVID-19, and this is news no one ever wants to hear.”

This is a breaking news story and will be updated as more information becomes available.