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Missouri governor: Kids will catch COVID-19 in school but will 'get over it'

Missouri governor: Kids will catch COVID-19 in school but will 'get over it'
Posted at 9:22 AM, Jul 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-21 11:59:21-04

Editor's note: An earlier version of this story repeatedly referred to the governor as "Mike Parsons." Scripps regrets the error.

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson said in a radio interview on Friday that he still supports reopening schools in the fall despite the fact that he knows children will contract the novel coronavirus when they return to the classroom.

Parson made the comments in a radio interview with Marc Cox, a talk show host on 97.1 FM in St. Louis. Cox asked Parson to respond to local politicians that he felt were "overreacting" to the pandemic, particularly when it came to youth sports.

"These kids have got to get back to school, they're at the lower risk possible," Parson said. "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 sit in doctor's offices. They're going to go home, and they're going to get over it."

Parson went on to say that "science" proved his point, though he did not cite and specific statistics.

Watch the interview in the player below. Parson's comments about children in schools begin at about the two-minute mark.

The CDC does say that children do not appear to be high risk for COVID-19, and that the vast majority of confirmed cases have appeared in adults. However, children are still able to spread the virus to friends and family members.

And while children are often spared from the most serious cases of COVID-19, the CDC reports that the virus has sent dozens of children to the hospital. Currently, the agency's COVID-19 Associated Hospitalization Surveillance Network currently reports that for every 200,000 children aged 5-17, about 1 is sent to the hospital every week. The network doesn't monitor hospitals in Missouri, but if those statistics hold true, between four and five public school students in pre-K through high school would be hospitalized in the state each week. According to Education Week, there are more than 900,000 students in the state.

Parson also did not mention teachers, administrators and other school staff members, all of whom could catch the virus from children or other adults in the school.

Parson also argued that keeping students out of school could cause more issues than if students were to come back to class.

"The risk of not putting them back in school — I guarantee it will cause more problems than the virus than we'll ever think creates long-term for our state," Parson said.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert, has said that he feels schools outside of virus hot sports should try and reopen for that very reason. In addition to furthering children's' social and cognitive development, with schools open, more kids will have access to nutritious meals as well as mental and physical health evaluations. However, Fauci has said schools in areas where the virus is rampant need to be careful.

"We should try as best as possible to keep kids in school," Fauci said. "...however, that's going to vary depending on where you are in the country."