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KSMU is dedicated to broadcasting critically important information as our community experiences the COVID-19 pandemic. Below, you'll find our ongoing coverage.

51-Year-Old With 'No Known Underlying' Conditions First COVID Death In McDonald County

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McDonald County, one of the state's new hotspots for an outbreak of COVID-19, has announced its first death from the illness, according to a Facebook post by the county health department Wednesday.   The person was 51 years old and had no known underlying health issues, according to officials.

The Facebook post said health officials in that far southwestern Missouri county are facing – quote – “extraordinary circumstances.”    Officials implore residents to keep physical distance and wear masks in public, adding that the coronavirus is spreading by “individuals who don’t even know they have it.”

According to the state of Missouri's COVID-19 Recovery Dashboard, McDonald County topped the list statewide Wednesday for having the highest seven-day increase in cases, with an increase of 196% compared to a week ago.

McDonald County announced over the weekend it had 235 new cases of COVID-19, making it and the Joplin corridor a new epicenter for the disease.

In a press release issued Tuesday, Missouri's Department of Health and Senior Services says it's using a "box-in" strategy in McDonald, Jasper, Newton and Barry Counties.   That approach involves widespread testing in affected facilities and communities, isolating those who are infected, contact-tracing to find people impacted, and having those contacts self-quarantine for two weeks.

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