Rural Missouri pastor: Virus ‘just started to sprout up’

Local News

In this June 22, 2020 photo provided by Lauren Manning, Pastor Joshua Manning poses outside his Community Baptist Church in Noel, Mo. The town of 1,800 residents has been hit hard by the coronavirus, and Manning believes he, his wife and their three children all have it, though testing has not yet confirmed it. Manning said several members of his congregation also have either tested positive or are showing symptoms, so much so that he has closed the church for the time being. (Lauren Manning via AP)

O’FALLON, Mo. (AP) – The coronavirus has become so rampant in a small Missouri town that a Baptist pastor is re-closing his church that was shut down for two months earlier in the pandemic.

Noel sits in McDonald County in the state’s far southwestern corner. When June began, the county had fewer than two dozen COVID-19 cases.

Now, it has nearly 500. Many are tied to a Tyson chicken processing plant in Noel, but the county health director says others in the community have also been infected. Pastor Joshua Manning of Community Baptist Church figures he’s among them, based on his persistent fever and body aches. Test results are pending.

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