More than 1,800 state employees have contracted COVID-19

Associated Press
The Rolla Daily News

JEFFERSON CITY — Missouri Gov. Mike Parson plans to resume public appearances this week after nearly two weeks of isolation because of a positive COVID-19 test, and will debate his Democratic challenger as planned on Friday, his office said.

The governor and his wife, Teresa, tested positive on Sept. 23. Neither developed serious symptoms and they announced Sunday that doctors had cleared them to return to work. 

Parson's office said he plans to travel to St. Joseph on Tuesday for a ribbon-cutting ceremony at Missouri Western State University. After several events at the Missouri Capitol on Wednesday, he will travel to St. Louis Thursday for a ceremonial bill signing, then return to Jefferson City for an event thanking health care professionals and first responders.

With less than a month until the election, Parson is scheduled to debate Democratic gubernatorial candidate Nicole Galloway on Friday in Columbia. That event had been postponed due to Parson's positive COVID-19 test result.

On Monday, he resumed campaign strategy meetings in Jefferson City and he planned to attend a campaign fundraiser Monday night in Macon, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.

The governor's office has refused to say how many people in his office have tested positive for COVID-19, although it said earlier that a number of staffers were in quarantine and working from home.

Parson was resuming travel even as the state reported nearly 1,000 more confirmed cases on Monday. The state health department reported 133,418 total cases, an increase from the 132,431 reported Sunday. The state reported a total of 2,174 coronavirus-related deaths on Monday, one more than on Sunday.

The state's Office of Administration said more than 1,800 state employees have had confirmed cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic began. 

The Department of Corrections has reported 646 employees with confirmed cases, followed by the Department of Mental Health with 393 cases and the Department of Public Safety with 211 cases. The Department of Agriculture had the fewest number of cases, with three. 

A total of 1,842 employees in 16 agencies have tested positive. The office said 1,259 have recovered. Missouri has about 53,000 employees.

St. Louis County health officials said the number of cases in the county has stabilized enough to allow them to ease some restrictions on high school and club sports, and businesses.

County Executive Sam Page said school districts that submit plans to the health department will be allowed to resume high-contact sports such as football and ice hockey. The districts must also pledge to cooperate with contract tracing efforts. The same rules will apply to club sports.

Businesses such as restaurants will also be allowed to increase capacity from 25% to 50% beginning Wednesday.

Page also said he was encouraging high schools to consider returning to in-person learning and that the county will provide $3 million in federal coronavirus relief funds to buy personal protective equipment for school districts.