Centers for Disease Control Responds to COVID-19 Outbreak in Southwest Missouri

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (Edited press release) – The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) says significant case growth is being monitored in southwest Missouri, and special attention is being paid to food processing plants that employ many essential workers in the Southwest Missouri area.

The state’s “box” strategy approach is currently being used in the area where the outbreak is affecting citizens who primarily reside in McDonald, Jasper, Newton and Barry counties. The “box” strategy for the outbreak involves extensive testing, isolating all infected people, locating all contacts of infected people, and quarantining those contacts for 14 days.

“We are grateful for our partnerships at the local, federal and neighboring states like Arkansas, which allow us to collaborate during these times when public health experts are in dire need,” said Dr. Randall Williams, director of DHSS. “It is also important to understand that this is a localized outbreak, not an increase in statewide cases, and together we are responding accordingly.”

In McDonald County, Tyson Foods worked with state and local public health officials and organized extensive testing of all employees, most of whom had no symptoms, and also agreed to operate at 60 percent of their capacity to allow those with positive results or close contacts of those positive cases to isolate or quarantine properly. In addition, various infection prevention measures are improving on the premises, including robust cleaning and disinfection practices.

Other groups of cases in the region are also being monitored. State DHSS data shows that 310 of the 413 new cases reported to the state from noon on June 20 to noon on June 21 were from residents of Joplin and McDonald, Jasper and Newton city counties. DHSS is providing contact tracking assistance for local public health agencies affected by the growth of cases associated with these outbreaks.

DHSS and the Missouri National Guard are partnering with local health departments in McDonald, Jasper, Newton and Barry counties to organize community driving test events. Events in McDonald and Newton counties will be held June 26-27, Barry County June 29, and Jasper County June 29-30. This free trial is available to any Missouri resident, symptomatic or asymptomatic; No physician order is required. Registration is required and is now open at, or participants can call 877-435-8411.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will also deploy a team to the area this week to assist state and local health authorities with epidemiological investigation. This research will determine the risk factors for the spread of COVID-19 in Missouri counties bordering Arkansas where the outbreak has been ongoing, will assess the role of meat and poultry plant outbreaks in the spread of the Infection in the community will estimate the prevalence and determine the risk factors for COVID-19 to spread in the pediatric population and develop a community mitigation plan for the COVID-19 outbreak in those counties.

According to the CDC, there is no evidence to support the transmission of COVID-19 associated with food. Coronaviruses are generally believed to be transmitted from person to person through respiratory droplets.