Missouri Gov. Mike Parson, whose mask-wearing habits have been publicly inconsistent and who has declined to issue a state-wide face covering mandate, has tested positive for COVID-19.
The Republican governor’s wife, Teresa Parson, has also been diagnosed with the illness.
In a brief video statement, Parson said he is awaiting a second test to confirm the results.
“Myself and the first lady are both fine,” Parson said. “I was tested, the preliminary results have come back as a positive result.”
“Right now, I feel fine, no symptoms of any kind,” he added.
The couple will follow quarantine protocols and will likely be separated for a few days, Parson explained.
Parson’s behavior has often contradicted advice from his own public health officials, often appearing at functions without a mask and surrounded by people.
As recently as July 11, Parson told a group of cattle ranchers that the government should not interfere with their decision to wear or forego a face covering.
“You don’t need government to tell you to wear a dang mask,” he said as the Springfield News-Leader reported, “If you want to wear a dang mask, wear a mask.”
He made the comments at a steak fry function with the Missouri Cattlemen’s Association sans mask and photos of the event show him ignoring social distancing guidelines.
The first couple’s diagnosis comes as the state announced 1,580 new cases of COVID-19 and 83 more deaths from the disease. In all, just under 117,000 people in the state have been diagnosed with the disease and 1,947 have died.
The U.S. death toll has risen above 200,000.
Parson is up for reelection and was expected to debate Democratic opponent Nicole Galloway on Friday.
On Wednesday evening he urged Missourians to “do the best you can to protect yourselves.”
He also cited the now-familiar mantra: “Social distancing, wear a mask, personal hygiene.”