JEFFERSON CITY — Missouri reported a record jump in COVID-19 cases on Sunday, with much of the increase coming from mostly rural counties in the southwestern corner of the state.
Health officials in McDonald County, which borders Oklahoma and Arkansas, are warning residents to avoid gatherings and wear face masks as they work through an avalanche of infections.
The 196 new cases tallied for McDonald County by the state Department of Health and Senior Services matches the number the county’s health department announced earlier on Facebook.
With 88 new cases in neighboring Newton County, and 25 new cases in Jasper County, the outbreak associated with Tyson Foods processing plants helped drive Missouri to a new single-day record of new cases, breaking the old one set only Saturday.
The Joplin metro area, which includes Newton and Jasper counties, has the fastest-rising infection rate in the nation.
The McDonald County Health Department reported Sunday on Facebook that it had received 196 positive test results, taking the county’s total number of infections to 434. Last Sunday, the county reported three new cases, with 78 total, and on June 1 it had 22.
The McDonald County Health Department could not be reached Sunday for comment. On Saturday, the health department warned that the massive batch of positive results was coming.
“Due to this increase we recommend avoiding gatherings,” the department stated on Facebook. “This means any events that includes more than your immediate family should be avoided.”
Missouri reported 413 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday, up from the 389 reported on Saturday and more than 60% higher than the average daily increase last week.
The state has had 18,003 coronavirus infections confirmed by testing since early March.
The cases in McDonald County are mainly located in the southwest quadrant of the county around Noel. The Joplin Globe reported Saturday that Tyson Foods had begun widespread COVID-19 testing among workers at its poultry plant in Noel.
The announcement was made Friday, the same day the company released results of testing throughout its operations in Northwest Arkansas, the Globe reported.
In Benton and Washington counties in Northwest Arkansas, 3,748 workers were tested onsite and the company said that 481, or 13%, tested positive; of those, 455, or nearly 95%, were asymptomatic.
The large increase in southwest Missouri continued the recent trend where the bulk of new cases in the state are occurring outside the state’s largest metro areas. On Sunday, the Kansas City and St. Louis regions reported only 49 of the 413 new infections.
Illinois reported 658 new cases of COVID-19 and 23 more deaths on Sunday, public health officials said.
The Illinois Department of Public Health said overall there have been 136,762 cases since the start of the pandemic and 6,647 deaths in Illinois. Public health officials announced more than 23,800 tests in the past 24 hours.
The state’s rate of positive tests continued to drop. The preliminary seven-day statewide positivity rate was 2%. It reached a high of 23% in late April.
Starting Monday, Chicago’s lakefront trail and other outdoor trails will reopen. Later in the week, Chicago restaurants will be allowed to restart indoor dining with capacity restrictions.
The Columbia Daily Tribune and the Associated Press contributed to this report.