We wish Missouri Gov. Mike Parson and first lady Teresa Parson a speedy recovery after learning both tested positive for COVID-19 this week.
The governor’s untimely diagnosis comes just a few weeks before the Nov. 3 election in a contest against an opponent who has made Parson’s handling of the virus in the state a campaign issue.
In a classy move, Democrat State Auditor Nicole Galloway, Parson’s opponent, wished the governor and his wife a safe and full recovery. She then went back to work pointing out that last week Missouri saw a 23 percent increase in confirmed COVID-19 cases.
According to Galloway’s Twitter feed, it has been 201 days since Missouri’s first reported COVID-19 case. Since then, nearly 120,000 Missourians have been infected and more than 2,000 residents have died of the virus.
She ended the tweet by saying, “We need new leadership.”
Galloway exercised restraint in the wake of the governor’s diagnosis. Parson’s critics did not. They went ballistic. The hailstorm of opprobrium on social media and in online comments that followed the story could be summed up as: “Serves you right, you got what you deserve, I hope you die.”
Why so much venom? Parson is viewed by many as not being aggressive enough in his response to the pandemic. His refusal to wear a mask at public events has been particularly irksome to critics who feel he has not taken the threat seriously.
Parson’s opposition to a statewide mask mandate 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, according to the Associated Press.
Parson rejected similar recommendations to impose a statewide mask requirement from the Missouri Nurses Association and the Missouri State Medical Association.
He told a reporter earlier in the week that he didn’t support the CDC recommendation because “This state is so diverse. It affects the cities, the urban areas a lot different … I have to take a balanced approach to it.”
Former U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill joined the Parson beatdown, tweeting a photo of the mask-less governor and his wife at an event in Joplin on Monday. She pointed out that Joplin is one of the largest COVID hot spots in our state. The fact is rural counties are seeing some of the highest recent spikes in coronavirus cases in the state.
One thing the governor’s diagnosis underscores is that the virus doesn’t discriminate between political parties or people who live in rural or urban areas of the state or even leaders who claim they have “managed this emergency exceptionally well by many measures,” as Parson, along with four other Republican governors in the Midwest, wrote in an op/ed in The Washington Post in May.
That claim surely would have been grist for the gubernatorial debate that was scheduled for Friday in Columbia. Ironically, that debate has been postponed until the governor recovers from the virus. We hope he gets better soon. Should be an interesting debate.