The city of Joplin on Friday morning reported 187 active cases of COVID-19, which is the highest number of daily active cases recorded since the pandemic began in March.

The city’s previous high was recorded last Saturday, at 161. Saturday, Aug. 29, was the first time active case numbers in Joplin eclipsed the 100 mark, according to the city's COVID-19 dashboard.

“It certainly is concerning to see the daily active cases going up,” said Dan Pekarek, assistant city manager and acting director of the Joplin Health Department, “and to see that many transmissions occurring and ... that many people testing positive.”

Trying to manage that many active cases, he said, “becomes a real issue when we’re trying to (coordinate) quarantines and isolations.”

An active case means a Joplin resident has COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, and is currently in isolation.

The city's health department has recorded 931 total confirmed COVID-19 cases, 732 of which are now considered inactive. Another 94 Joplin residents are currently in quarantine, having been identified as a close contact to an existing COVID-19 case. Eleven Joplin residents are hospitalized, while a total of 50 COVID-19 patients with Freeman Health System, Mercy Hospital Joplin or Landmark Hospital of Joplin.

The city's COVID-19 death count remains at 21, all of whom were residents of Spring River Christian Village nursing home.

“We knew (the numbers) would go up” because of the start of a new school year, Pekarek said. “We just didn’t know for sure what we would see or how much they would go up.”

He believes the COVID-19 case spike is due from a combination of factors — K-12 and college classes beginning, cases from various nursing homes, and general community spread.

“You’ve got more people out, kids around each other — they may be systematic, but they’re taking it home to mom and dad who may still get sick,” he said. “It’s just a combination of all of these things.”

Residents should continue to take precautions as the numbers throughout the community continue to rise.

“You need to keep wearing your masks when out in public, and do social distancing when you can; if you can’t social distance, (definitely) wear a mask," he said.

Washing and sanitizing hands is another huge weapon to slow the spread of COVID-19, he said.

Missouri COVID-19’s cases continue to inch toward 100,000 cases, with statewide deaths eclipsing 1,700 on Friday. Nationwide, 6.6 million people have contracted the disease, and more than 196,000 have died. Outside the U.S., COVID case numbers have reached 28.5 million, with nearly 917,000 deaths.