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Missouri Governor And Wife To Host Fall Festival Days After COVID-19 Diagnosis

Gov. Mike Parson and his wife, Teresa, share a kiss after he was sworn in as Missouri's 57th governor in 2018.
Gov. Mike Parson and his wife, Teresa, share a kiss after he was sworn in as Missouri's 57th governor in 2018.

Just two days after announcing that they have contracted the coronavirus, Republican Gov. Mike Parson and his wife, Teresa Parson, have reassured Missourians that they still plan to host their annual fall festival next month.

"WE WILL BE PROCEEDING WITH THIS EVENT," the first lady wrote in all caps on Twitter.

"Come enjoy the outdoor activities and the beautiful fall decorations," she urged residents.

Although, the governor has declined to issue a statewide mandate for face coverings, the first lady noted on Friday that masks will be available and "social distancing encouraged!"

The festivities will include several vendors, children's activities and bluegrass musical entertainment, according to The Associated Press.

The event is scheduled to take place on Oct. 3, the final day of a 10-day quarantine window recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for anyone who tests positive for COVID-19.

The response to the announcement has drawn praise and ridicule online. With those who support the governor pledging they will attend, and those who view the event as a public health risk going so far as to report the event to the St. Louis Police Department.

It is unclear what action the police department can take to stop the festival, but Cole County public health guidance discourages large gatherings.

The Parsons were diagnosed with the highly contagious virus on Wednesday and are currently under quarantine.

Gov. Parson, who is up for reelection, has come under fire from critics and his own public health officials for regularly eschewing medical advice — choosing not to wear a face covering at public events and campaign rallies. And on multiple occasions, he has been photographed failing to maintain a 6-foot distance from constituents.

He was also lambasted after he downplayed the risks Missouri children would face upon returning to school amid the pandemic.

Noting that children are less likely to contract the coronavirus, he said, "If they do get COVID-19, which they will — and they will when they go to school — they're not going to the hospitals. They're not going to have to sit in doctors' offices. They're going to go home and they're going to get over it."

"We gotta move on," he continued.

As of Wednesday, the governor said that he and the first lady "are both fine" and that he is not suffering any symptoms related to COVID-19.

State officials have confirmed 120,298 cases of coronavirus since the start of the pandemic and 1,994 deaths. In the last 24 hours, 1,987 new cases and 42 deaths were reported. The average age of a COVID-19 patient is 42.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Corrected: September 25, 2020 at 9:00 PM PDT
An earlier version of this story stated that the governor's festival would occur within a 14-day quarantine window. Under CDC guidelines, Those who test positive for COVID-19 should isolate for 10 days.
Vanessa Romo is a reporter for NPR's News Desk. She covers breaking news on a wide range of topics, weighing in daily on everything from immigration and the treatment of migrant children, to a war-crimes trial where a witness claimed he was the actual killer, to an alleged sex cult. She has also covered the occasional cat-clinging-to-the-hood-of-a-car story.