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story.lead_photo.caption Missouri Gov. Mike Parson and first lady Teresa Parson meet Tuesday, July 28, 2020, at Capital City High School in Jefferson City with school superintendents from across the state to discuss reopening plans for schools in the fall. Photo by Liv Paggiarino / Fulton Sun.

Gov. Mike Parson and first lady Teresa Parson have tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

Teresa tested positive with a rapid test Wednesday after showing mild symptoms of cough and a runny nose.

That prompted Gov. Parson to also receive a rapid test, which came back positive, state health director Dr. Randall Williams told reporters Wednesday afternoon.

A PCR test for Teresa also came back positive in the afternoon, confirming her earlier diagnosis, and as of approximately 4 p.m. Wednesday, Gov. Parson's PCR test result was being awaited and expected that evening, Williams said.

Williams said the state is committed to keeping Missourians' health information confidential, "but it was important to the governor and the first lady to announce this news, to be truly transparent about their situation."

Gov. Parson said in a video-recorded statement released on social media that, "Myself and the first lady are both fine Right now, I feel fine — no symptoms of any kind."

Teresa said in a video statement of her own that "I did get up with a few cold-like symptoms and decided that maybe because we are out among the public so much, I should be tested."

Williams said the governor and Teresa are isolating for 10 days — Teresa at home in Bolivar and the governor at the Governor's Mansion in Jefferson City.

Williams and Parson's office said the governor continues to fulfill his official duties from the Mansion without interruption.

Contact tracing is underway to determine who has had close contact with the couple and may need to quarantine — efforts conducted by the Department for Health and Senior Services, in coordination with the Cole County Health Department, Williams said.

Cole County Health Department Director Kristi Campbell told the News Tribune shortly before 5:30 p.m. Wednesday that as far as she knew, her staff had not yet been contacted by DHSS, but the health department had selected the county's communicable diseases coordinator, Chezney Schulte, to be the point-person in the investigation.

Williams said the number of close contacts would not be "as big a number as you might think," given the definition of a close contact being someone who has been within 6 feet of sustained proximity of an infected person for 15 minutes or more.

The governor's travel schedule for this week before Wednesday had included ceremonial special session bill signings in Kansas City, Carthage, Springfield and Cape Girardeau — including with the Kansas City Fraternal Order of Police and Jasper County and Cape Girardeau County sheriffs' offices — a visit to the opening of a golf course in Hollister, and a visit to Lincoln University's Charleston Outreach Center in Charleston.

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Gov. Parson's travels last week included visiting with state workers at office buildings and facilities in Jefferson City — including at the Harry S. Truman Building, where more than three dozen cases of COVID-19 have recently been identified. Photographs taken there by the News Tribune showed that the governor and those in his immediate vicinity he spoke with were wearing masks at the time.

According to the Associated Press, Parson and several other Missouri Republican candidates appeared together Friday at an event called the "TARGET BBQ" in Springfield. A photo posted on Parson's Twitter pages shows Parson on a stage with four other statewide officeholders seeking re-election: Treasurer Scott Fitzpatrick, Lt. Gov. Mike Kehoe, Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft and Attorney General Eric Schmitt. They appear to be a few feet apart from each other, but none are wearing masks.

Spokespeople for Schmitt, Fitzpatrick and Kehoe said those elected officials all tested negative Wednesday. A spokeswoman for Ashcroft said his "recent interactions with the governor and first lady fall well short of the 'close contact' threshold."

It's not immediately clear where or when in recent days Teresa may have accompanied Gov. Parson — or what her own schedule has been like — but she has accompanied him on various visits in the past.

"While they might be in a room of 1,000 people, the number of people who are literally with them for 15 minutes right up next to them is actually a smaller number," Williams said.

A news release from Parson's office Wednesday stated all official and campaign events for the governor have been canceled until further notice.

A gubernatorial candidate forum by the Missouri Press Association and KOMU-8 that had been scheduled to be broadcast Friday from Columbia was also planned to be rescheduled for a later date.

State Auditor Nicole Galloway — Parson's Democratic rival in the gubernatorial election Nov. 3 — told reporters in an unrelated campaign call Wednesday, before news of the governor's diagnosis was released, that she wished the first lady a quick recovery. "It's a reminder that it can reach anyone, anywhere," Galloway said.

It was not immediately clear if or how public tours at the Governor's Mansion would be affected by the Parsons' diagnoses and the governor's isolation there; the leader of the Friends of the Missouri Governor's Mansion organization did not immediately return request for comment.

The governor's staff has also been tested and is awaiting results.

Gov. Parson said in his statement: "My concern right now is the first lady — her health, to make sure she's OK. One thing I would ask is for your prayers, and for your thoughts for the first lady."

"Take care of yourselves, do the best you can to protect yourselves — social distancing, wear a mask, personal hygiene," he advised.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

 

Previous coverage

Gov. Mike Parson and first lady Teresa Parson, his wife, have tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

Teresa tested positive with a rapid test earlier Wednesday after showing mild symptoms of cough and a runny nose.

That prompted Gov. Parson to also receive a rapid test, which came back positive, state health director Dr. Randall Williams told reporters Wednesday afternoon.

A PCR test for Teresa also came back positive, confirming her earlier diagnosis, and Gov. Parson's PCR test result was being awaited — perhaps to be received about 5 p.m. Wednesday, Williams said.

Williams said Gov. Parson was not showing any symptoms.

He said the governor and Teresa are isolating for 10 days — Teresa at home in Bolivar, and the governor at the Governor's Mansion.

Contact tracing is also underway for those who've had close contact with the couple, though Williams said, "It's not as big a number (of people) as you might think," given the definition of a close contact being someone who's been within 6 feet of an infected person for 15 minutes or more.

A news release from Parson's office stated all official and campaign events for the governor have been canceled until further notice.

The governor's staff has also been tested and is awaiting results.

Williams and Parson's office said the governor continues to fulfill his official duties from the Mansion without interruption.

 

Previous coverage

First lady Teresa Parson tested positive for the novel coronavirus after a rapid test was given Wednesday, a spokeswoman for Gov. Mike Parson's office confirmed this afternoon.

Kelli Jones, the office's communications director, said Teresa took a rapid test Wednesday after showing mild symptoms of a cough and runny nose.

Jones said Teresa and Mike — the governor — have both been given a PCR test, but those test results would not be available until later Wednesday.

Jones expected to release more information, but in the meantime, events Gov. Parson was to attend today were canceled or postponed, as was a scheduled public event where he and Teresa were to receive flu shots Friday.

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