Missouri Governor Says Students Will Catch COVID-19 But Will 'Get Over It' Amid Push to Reopen Schools

Missouri Governor Mike Parson said he is certain kids returning to schools will get infected with coronavirus, but they'll also "get over it" by resting at home for a few days.

Parson, a public supporter of Donald Trump, agreed with the president that students must get back into schools in the coming weeks. The Missouri governor told a St. Louis talk radio host Friday that is sure countless students will spread COVID-19 through reopened classrooms, but their immune systems are prepared for the virus. On Saturday, Missouri set a new state record for daily infections with 958 new cases—an 87 percent increase from the previous week.

During the 10-minute interview with KFTK radio host Marc Cox, Parson defended the decision to send kids back to school even if coronavirus infections soar in classrooms.

"These kids have got to get back to school," Governor Parson said Friday. "They are at the lowest risk possible. And 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 doctor's offices. They're going to go home and they're going to get over it."

"We have got to move on," Parson continued. "We can't just let this thing stop us in our tracks."

The GOP governor said high-risk individuals and others with underlying conditions such as diabetes or obesity should be protected. But he stressed that most people are smart enough to figure out how to avoid coronavirus infection without having the government step in and mandate behavior.

"We are not defenseless against COVID-19," the governor tweeted Monday afternoon. "We can take steps to protect ourselves: Social distance, wear a mask, wash your hands. We must all continue to do this as we move forward."

In the same Friday interview, the governor reiterated that violent crime and protests are instead his primary focus. Parson said he will consider pardoning the McCloskeys, a wealthy Central West End couple who pointed guns at protesters marching past their property on June 28. Images of the couple were spread widely on social media, particularly from supporters of the racial inequality protests who said the pair were typifying some of America's major problems.

"The McCloskeys had every right to defend their home," Parson wrote on Facebook Monday morning.

St. Louis County Executive Sam Page, who will oversee much of the area's school re-openings, said the governor shares his concerns over kids returning but that it is still an imperative move. Page encouraged parents to choose the "virtual" classroom option if their district offers the choice. St. Louis schools are set to reopen at the end of August.

"Many schools are moving to virtual but I encourage parents to choose the virtual option as it is available," Page told KMOV-TV in St. Louis.

Newsweek reached out to both Missouri's Department of Elementary and Secondary Education as well as the governor's office Monday afternoon for comment but did not hear back by publication time.

missouri governor mike parson trump
MANDEL NGAN / Contributor/Getty Images