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PERRYVILLE, MO – The Perry County Health Department posted a COVID-19 update on its Facebook page Tuesday. Officials are now discouraging large social gatherings of any kind.

This comes as Perry County is now ranked in the top 10 counties in Missouri with the highest number of COVID-19 cases per capita.

There are more than 70 cases in Perry County and more than 150 close contacts to those positives were told to self-isolate at home, according to the post.

Perry County has a population of about 19,000, with a majority of people working or living in Perryville.

“The same things that help us economically, sometimes slow us down a little bit when it comes to COVID,” said Brent Buerck, Perryville City Manager.

He said the jump could be attributed to certain hot spots nearby, “we were unfortunately ahead of the curve, we were able to get those in check and get them fairly under control down to almost 1 or 2 cases active at the time, but now we are seeing an increase, we are back up,” he said. “Several large employers, including a nursing home, were affected and it spreads much more rapidly in those places, so we’d seen a bunch of numbers from a couple of incidents.”

However, Buerck said the city is not implementing any rules to combat the spread of COVID-19.

“We’re not installing rules, but we are going to make guidelines again, about 6 feet apart, if not a mask would be recommended, about keeping your gatherings smaller, don’t look for large gatherings, mass gatherings may not be the safest place to be,” said Buerck.

The Perry County Health Department Facebook post says, “the next two weeks in Perry County have the potential to turn a bad situation even worse.”

Meanwhile, as Missouri hit more than 1,000 COVID-19 related deaths, Governor Mike Parson said he does not have any plans to implement a face mask ordinance across the state.

The Perryville City Administrator said he does not have plans to implement one either.

“At this time we are not considering any additional ordinances, we’ll follow Governor Parson’s lead, we’ll follow the lead of the Perry County Commission,” he said.