Missouri governor candidates talk COVID-19

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JEFFERSON CITY -Governor Mike Parson and Democratic Governor Candidate Nicole Galloway were both discussing the coronavirus pandemic Wednesday, but with differing focuses.

Governor Mike Parson announced a new COVID-19 test at his briefing at the state capitol.

The new test, developed by researchers at Washington University in St. Louis, is a saliva test.

"A new, saliva based COVID-19 test, developed in Missouri, has been approved for use by the FDA," Governor Parson said.

He said researchers have been working on it for a while, and that there may be some logistical issues when it comes to implementing it. Parson did not share any sort of plan for the test to be put into use.

"Look this is a game changer. To be able to have rapid testing, one of the first to go across the United States, which I'm confident it will. It says a great deal for our state and for our technology," Parson said. "The health care system we have, we're going to be leading the nation in those two things."

It's a breakthrough for testing, as the number of positive cases continue to rise in the state. Nicole Galloway, the Democrat candidate for governor, said it's a step in the right direction.

"This is an exciting development from Washington University, and I hope this has positive implications for fighting COVID here in the state but also nationally," Galloway said.

While there's no release date yet, Governor Parson and Dr. Randall Williams with DHSS both say using it in schools and on University campuses in the state is a focus for them.

"Take Boone County," Dr. Williams said. "They had two of the highest case rates they've had last week, ever, and half of those were in between 18 and 22, I think it was."

And as cases continue to rise, Galloway is calling for a mask mandate for the entire state.

“A mask requirement is our ticket to freedom because it improves our odds that businesses can remain open, schools can return to in-person instruction, and people can get their jobs back,” Galloway said. 

Governor Parson won't implement one, and has stressed that he won't.

"I totally support people wearing a mask. I always have from day one," he said. "The three things that have been consistent in the message I've had, social distancing by far is the most important thing you could do. Masks and personal hygiene."

Galloway said his approach is wrong, and as for schools, she said Governor Parson’s mentality is the wrong way to go about reopening schools. 

“Governor Parsons approach? Kids should go back to school. If they get it, they’ll get over it, and we’ll get have to see what happens,” Galloway said. “That’s not the a plan to return to full in-person school. And if it is his plan, it is not working because we are seeing school districts across Missouri pull back from earlier plans to start the year in-person.”

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