O’FALLON, Mo. — The mostly rural Bootheel region of Missouri is seeing high numbers of confirmed cases of the coronavirus, but unlike many other hard-hit areas, the surge isn’t tied to any particular place or demographic.
Information from the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services shows that several southeast Missouri counties have some of the state’s worst rates of confirmed cases per capita. Perry County’s rate of 3,055 cases per 100,000 residents is second only to McDonald County’s 4,545 cases per 100,000. McDonald County, in southwestern Missouri, saw a big outbreak this summer tied to meat plants.
Perry County Health Department Director Sylvia Forester said Tuesday that part of the reason for the high number of cases in her county has been aggressive testing from the outset of the pandemic. Still, there is concern about how the virus has moved through the rural county of 19,100 residents because the outbreak isn’t tied to nursing homes, meat plants or colleges — places that have driven outbreaks in many non-urban areas.
“We do have indicators of community spread,” Forester said.
Like most Missouri counties, Perry County has no mask mandate. Some large events have been called off this year to limit the virus’ spread, Forester said, but others have not, including a motorcycle rally last weekend in Perryville.