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Missouri’s first lady moves ahead with fall festival at end of COVID-19 isolation period

Missouri’s first lady moves ahead with fall festival at end of COVID-19 isolation period

Parson speaks at Midwest March for Life

Sr. Mary Ruth Wand, left, of California, Mo. greets Missouri Gov. Mike Parson and his wife Teresa Parson during the 2020 Midwest March for Life on Saturday, Feb. 1, 2020, toward the Capitol building in Jefferson City. Parson, marching in a crowd of about 500 people, was the first Missouri governor to attend the march or speak at the rally. Photo by Christian Gooden,

JEFFERSON CITY — What’s not to celebrate?

Teresa Parson, Missouri’s first lady, announced Friday she would be moving forward with the Third Annual Parson Family Fall Festival on Oct. 3 outside the Governor’s Mansion.

Parson and her husband, Gov. Mike Parson, both tested positive for COVID-19 on Wednesday. They said they would be isolating for 10 days.

Kelli Jones, spokeswoman for the Republican governor’s office, said Teresa Parson’s isolation will end Sept. 28, less than 10 days after her test, because she started showing symptoms before her positive test on Wednesday. The governor’s isolation period lasts through Oct. 3, Jones said.

“We are following all guidelines appropriately,” she said.

Jones said Friday that the first lady continued to have mild symptoms while the governor was still asymptomatic.

Jones, in a press release Friday, said governor’s office staff, mansion staff and security staff had all been tested for the virus but didn’t disclose whether anyone else tested positive.

Teresa Parson, on Twitter, said: “Join us on October 3rd at the Missouri Governor’s Mansion for our third annual Parson Family Fall Festival! This event is free and open to the public. Masks will be available for all attendees and social distancing encouraged!”

The listing doesn’t explicitly require masks, and while it encourages social distancing, it doesn’t require it.

Teresa Parson, hours later, reiterated: “WE WILL BE PROCEEDING WITH THIS EVENT.”

The fall festival is scheduled to take place even as other Missourians cancel their own gatherings as the state continues as one of the country’s top COVID-19 hot spots. Parson has declined to issue an order requiring masks in public, and before testing positive, the couple had not worn face coverings in all public settings.

The state reported a record 1,064 hospitalizations on Sept. 17. There was another record-breaking day Tuesday with 1,068 hospitalizations, the last day for which data were available.

The state’s rolling seven-day average of new cases was 1,453 as of Friday, a count that is among the highest of the pandemic in Missouri.

Earlier this month, on Sept. 14, before the Parsons were tested, Mike Parson announced on Facebook that tours of the Governor’s Mansion would resume.

“The docents giving the tours will be wearing masks, and though it’s optional for the people on a tour, masks and hand sanitizer are provided,” the post said.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in July that increasing evidence shows face coverings help reduce transmission of COVID-19, “particularly when used universally within communities.” The agency says “everyone should wear a mask in public settings and when around people who don’t live in your household, especially when other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.”

The White House Coronavirus Task Force has repeatedly recommended some form of a mask mandate in Missouri since early August, according to weekly reports to the governor’s office obtained through an open-records request.

According to CDC guidance, “For most persons with COVID-19 illness, isolation and precautions can generally be discontinued 10 days after symptom onset and resolution of fever for at least 24 hours, without the use of fever-reducing medications, and with improvement of other symptoms.”

The recommendations say that “a limited number of persons with severe illness may produce replication-competent virus beyond 10 days that may warrant extending duration of isolation and precautions for up to 20 days after symptom onset; consider consultation with infection control experts.”

Teresa Parson has said she was experiencing mild symptoms and was isolating in the couple’s home in Bolivar.

Parson’s office said Thursday he was not experiencing any symptoms as of Wednesday, when he was first tested, and was “feeling healthy.” He was isolating in the Governor’s Mansion.

The CDC guidelines say the 10-day isolation period should start upon “symptom onset.”

“For persons who never develop symptoms, isolation and other precautions can be discontinued 10 days after the date of their” first positive PCR test for COVID-19.

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