Special Report

COVID-19: Joplin, MO Metro Area Among the Most Dangerous in America

The U.S. reported over 1,026,000 new cases of coronavirus over the seven days ending September 21, bringing the total count to more than 41.8 million confirmed cases of COVID-19. There have been more than 669,000 COVID-19-related deaths — the highest death toll of any country.

New cases continue to rise at a steady rate. In the past week, there were an average of 47.3 daily new coronavirus cases per 100,000 Americans — essentially unchanged from the week prior, when there were an average of 48.1 daily new coronavirus cases per 100,000 people.

While new data shows that the risk of contracting COVID-19 is high in almost every part of the country, cities continue to be the sites of major outbreaks and superspreader events. Experts agree that the virus is more likely to spread in group settings where large numbers of people routinely have close contact with one another, such as colleges, nursing homes, bars, and restaurants. Metropolitan areas with a high degree of connectivity between different neighborhoods and a large population may be particularly at-risk.

The Joplin, MO metro area consists of Jasper County and Newton County. As of September 21, there were 16,398.7 confirmed cases of COVID-19 per 100,000 Joplin residents, the 48th highest rate of all 383 metro areas with available data. For comparison, the U.S. has so far reported 12,954.8 cases per 100,000 Americans nationwide.

The incidence of coronavirus cases depends on a variety of factors and can vary even between neighboring counties. Within the Joplin metro area, Jasper County has the highest incidence of COVID-19 cases. As of September 21, there were 18,100.4 cases per 100,000 residents in Jasper County, the most of any county in Joplin, and far greater than the county with the lowest incidence. In Newton County, there were 12,891.0 cases per 100,000 residents — the least of any county in Joplin.

In order to slow the spread of COVID-19, city and county governments have ordered the closure of thousands of consumer-facing businesses. These measures have led to widespread job loss and record unemployment. In the Joplin metro area, unemployment peaked at 10.6% in April 2020. As of May 2021, the metro area’s unemployment rate was 3.8%.

To determine how the incidence of COVID-19 in the Joplin, MO metro area compares to the rest of the country, 24/7 Wall St. compiled and reviewed data from state and local health departments. We ranked metro areas based on the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents.To estimate the incidence of COVID-19 at the metropolitan level, we aggregated data from the county level using boundary definitions from the U.S. Census Bureau. Population data used to adjust case and death totals came from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2019 American Community Survey and are five-year estimates. Unemployment data is from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and is seasonally adjusted.

These are all the counties in Missouri where COVID-19 is slowing (and where it’s still getting worse).

FIPS MSA Population Confirmed COVID-19 cases as of September 21 Confirmed COVID-19 cases as of September 21 per 100,000 residents Cumulative COVID-19 deaths as of September 21 Cumulative COVID-19 deaths as of September 21 per 100,000 residents
41180 St. Louis, MO-IL 2,805,190 358,101 12,765.7 5,608 199.9
28140 Kansas City, MO-KS 2,124,518 272,764 12,838.9 3,392 159.7
17860 Columbia, MO 205,369 27,492 13,386.6 167 81.3
16020 Cape Girardeau, MO-IL 96,976 13,662 14,088.0 176 181.5
44180 Springfield, MO 462,434 66,705 14,424.8 951 205.7
41140 St. Joseph, MO-KS 126,173 18,295 14,499.9 257 203.7
27620 Jefferson City, MO 151,273 23,962 15,840.2 281 185.8
27900 Joplin, MO 178,100 29,206 16,398.7 438 245.9