Macon and Adair County see increase of COVID-19 after event held in Macon; businesses begin to close (again)

by Benjamin C. Nelson

MACON, MO - According to the County Health Department, there are currently 14 active cases of COVID-19 in the county; announcing seven new cases today (July 7). For the most part, the new cases are a result of a recent Church Revival held in Macon. Additional to the cases confirmed here in Macon County, today Adair County confirmed four new cases, three of which came from the recent church event in Macon. "The cases stemming from the church revival in Macon illustrate the need for people to maintain social distance and wear masks if they attend group events," stated Administrator of Adair County Health, Jim LeBaron. A part of a contact investigation, the Linn County Health Department released a statement today asking citizens to monitor for symptoms of the virus if they attended a wedding at Young's Lodge on July 4th, 2020 located at 25331 Echo Ave Callao, MO. Today, the State of Missouri reported roughly 773 new cases of COVID-19. The state's largest single-day increase. The Macon County Health Department urges citizens to practice social distancing and to wear a mask when in public and attending an event this summer.

We reached out to Macon County Health Director, Mike Chambers, to ask about the recent outbreak and what the county is doing to slow the spread of the virus. "To contain the spread of disease, there are really only two things a health department can do: contact investigation and education. With regard to contact investigation it depends on the individuals we speak to and whether we can get the information we need to contact everyone with whom the positive person has been in close contact. Generally people are good about providing us as complete and accurate information as they remember. Some don’t. If we can isolate the positive cases and get the close contacts to self-quarantine, then that goes a long way to contain the spread of disease. The other thing we do as a health department is educate our residents on how to stay safe. Since the onset of COVID-19 we have spoken of social distancing, good hand hygiene, and routinely sanitizing common touch surfaces. Lately, we educate people on the use of face masks to help keep people safe particularly when social distancing can’t be maintained, even outdoors. These public health principles are especially important during this outbreak to help keep residents safe and to slow or stop the disease from spreading," stated Chambers.

Additionally, we asked Mr. Chambers about whether or not the health department is looking at previous used regulations (stay-at-home orders, etc.) that we saw in March and April, to slow the current outbreak of COVID-19. "I would really want to take a look at other counties that are experiencing, or have experienced an outbreak to see the measures they put in place and how well they worked. I know we are talking about people’s health, but we are also talking about people’s livelihood. Each Macon County resident has control over their health during this pandemic – how they choose to go out in public and whether they practice social distancing or wearing face coverings; whether they choose to attend an event where social distancing is not being managed be this a church or a fair; whether they choose to visit with people at the store with adequate space between them or they shake hands and hug. A lot of what fuels outbreaks are personal choices. We have brought this up in the past, even though the Governor has lifted the stay at home orders COVID-19 is still with us and will be for the foreseeable future. We cannot return to our pre-pandemic “normal”. Public health practices still need to very much be apart of our current “normal”. What I see happening are choices based on moving back to our pre-pandemic normal and this will only encourage the spread of disease, not contain it. What I have also seen is that many of Macon County’s businesses are still working to manage social distancing and other public health practices. Many still have the Plexiglas shields in place and markings on the floor to guide customers. Many businesses are having their employees mask and are encouraging customers to mask. These are the standards by which to follow," stated Mike Chambers.

Issuing a public statement on Facebook, Raspberry's BBQ in Macon with the recent increase of cases in Macon County, has shut their doors for in-person dining starting today (July 7th). "Due to the steady increase of COVID in the area, we have decided to switch back to CARRY OUT AND CURBSIDE ONLY for the time being. Our dining room will be closed starting Tuesday, July 7th. We feel in order to do our part to help slow the spread of COVID in our community and keep our customers and employees safe, this is the best option at this time. We have diligently done our best to increase safety and sanitation measures, but the greatest concern is to continue to put our team at risk, as well as our customers. There are some safety precautions that can not be fully utilized in the restaurant setting and this puts everyone at greater risk. We understand the public controversy over the pandemic; however, the health and safety of all who enter the restaurant is our greatest concern, not politics. Please remember that whether you agree or disagree, we are still a small business with local employees trying to do the best for our staff and customers," stated Raspberry's.

Issuing a public statement on Facebook, the Macon County Circuit Clerk has returned to "phase zero" with closing their doors and having staff work from home. "We regret to inform you that due to the local increase in COVID-19 cases that the 41st Judicial Circuit, Macon County has been phased back to Zero (0). Employees will be working from home. There will be no in-person court, except for those cases listed in the attached order. If you are unsure if your case is going to be held, please contact our office by phone (leave a voicemail) or email. (660) 385-4631 or We are sorry for any inconvenience this may cause. Thank you," stated the Macon County Circuit Clerk.

West Winery in Macon has also decided to temporarily close their doors. Issuing a public statement, West Winery stated, "We have come to the decision to temporarily close the flagship location of West Winery in downtown Macon due to the current health situation across our state and the midwest combined with the fact that we see a myriad of travelers from all over the region. This is not a decision we made lightly and it is of the utmost importance that we keep our families', customers', and staff's safety as our first priority. We will continue to monitor the situation and maintain transparency in our communication with you regarding a potential opening in the future. We are providing a curbside option for this weekend as well our continued shipping option. Call us at 660.651.1795 or email to arrange a time for your curbside wine pickup this weekend or visit us online at to have your bottles delivered to your door!"

One of the recent cases of COVID-19 in the county was an employee at Ben Franklin's in Macon. Still being open to the public, Wavering's Ben Franklin issued a public statement: "Unfortunately, a Macon Ben Franklin store employee has tested positive for COVID-19. The employee last worked Wednesday July 1st and Thursday July 2nd and showed no symptoms. As soon as the employee was notified of the test results, the person was removed from the schedule. The store being closed over the weekend, allowed us to deep clean the store. We are working with the Macon County Health Department to ensure everyone's safety. Our employees will be wearing masks. We encourage our customers to wear masks too."

Two events began this week in Macon, the County Fair and Summer School at Macon R-1. The Macon County Fair has issued a public statement regarding their response to COVID-19 in relation to this week's fair. Throughout the fairgrounds, fair-goers are reminded to practice social distancing at all times as well as wearing masks are welcomed throughout the events this week. Sanitization is provided throughout the county fairgrounds for those who attend. It was stated to the paper that plans and policies put in place for the fair have been approved by local health officials. For the County Fair's full response to COVID-19, please visit their Facebook page by searching "Macon County Town and Country Fair." We reached out to Macon R-1 regarding the recent increase of cases in Macon County and the beginning of summer school. Superintendent of Schools, Scott Jarvis, stated to the paper, "We have temperature devices that take temps of all of the students when they enter the building. Teachers have digital thermometers in the classrooms. We limited the number of kids that attend summer school. We are not providing transportation. We have extra sanitizer in the hallways. Students stay in their same groups each day. Custodial staff are cleaning restrooms and high traffic areas more frequently. We only had 96 students show up today (Monday, July 6th)."