Missouri Gov. Mike Parson tests positive for COVID-19

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson tested positive for the coronavirus Wednesday, according to Department of Health and Senior Services Director Dr. Randall Williams.

"All official and campaign events have been canceled until further notice," a statement from the governor's office said. "As a precautionary measure, the Governor's staff has been tested and is awaiting results. At this time, the Governor feels healthy and is displaying no symptoms, and the First Lady has mild symptoms. Proper safety protocols have been implemented at the direction of Dr. Randall Williams, Director of the Department of Health and Senior Services."

"During this time, Governor Parson continues to conduct and fulfill all roles of businesses of the state of Missouri from the Governor's Mansion without interruption."

 
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Williams said Parson is asymptomatic and is in quarantine in Jefferson City, but contract tracing has already started with his close contacts.

The news of the positive COVID-19 test comes hours after his wife, Teresa, tested positive and had been showing symptoms that included a cough and nasal congestion. Teresa Parson took a rapid test that came back positive and Williams said she started the process of helping get the governor tested.

She will remain in isolation in the family home in Bolivar, Missouri.

Parson, 65, is facing Democratic State Auditor Nicole Galloway in the November election. The two were supposed to debate Friday in a forum hosted by the Missouri Press Association, but it has been postponed, said Mark Maassen, executive director of the association. He said the forum will be rescheduled.

Parson has repeatedly urged residents to wear masks and maintain social distancing, but he has been an outspoken opponent of mask mandates, often appearing at functions without one.

In July, speaking without a mask at a Missouri Cattlemen's Association steak fry in Sedalia, he reiterated his stance.

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson tests positive for COVID-19

“You don’t need government to tell you to wear a dang mask,” he said. “If you want to wear a dang mask, wear a mask.”

Parson's opposition to masks has held strong even as the White House Coronavirus Task Force has recommended a face covering requirement in Missouri given the state's escalating number of confirmed cases. When Parson allowed the state to reopen for business in mid-June, about 16,000 cases had been confirmed.

The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services reported 1,580 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, bringing the statewide total to 116,946 since the start of the outbreak. There have now been 1,947 deaths across Missouri from COVID-19.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.