A cosmetologist styles a customers hair in Cincinnati, Ohio. Missouri also allowed hair salons to reopen in May. (The stylist pictured is not related to the Missouri story.)
Jason Whitman/Getty Images
Last month, two Missouri hairstylists cut 140 people’s hair while symptomatic with the coronavirus, putting officials on alert for new cases tied to the salon.
But now, after two-week quarantines and regular check-ins with those who were potentially exposed, none seem to have contracted to the virus.
Officials hope to learn more from the case, which illustrates the importance of masks and other measures the salon put in place.
As states continue to reopen, including services like salons and barbershops, 21 are seeing new spikes in cases.
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After a Missouri health department learned of two hairstylists who cut 140 clients hair while symptomatic with COVID-19, the disease the coronavirus causes, they braced for a surge in cases among the newly coiffed.
Springfield-Greene County Health Department director Clay Goddard said back then, on May 22, that he was “very frustrated” and “disappointed” by the potential new outbreak as the state began to reopen.
“We can’t have many more of these,” he said, as Business Insider previously reported. “We can’t make this a regular habit or our capability as a community will be strained and we will have to re-evaluate what things look like going forward.”
Related: Experts on How to Make and Wear Effective DIY Face Masks
But now, more than two weeks later, all of the stylists’ clients remain healthy, CNN reported, pleasantly surprising health officials, and highlighting the importance of mask wearing, contact tracing, and isolating suspected cases.
The stylists wore masks and all clients were contacted about their potential exposure
The stylists, who worked at a Great Clips in Springfield, wore masks, as did their clients, Business Insider reported. The salon also implemented Centers for measures like keeping chairs far apart and staggering appointments, the health department said, according to CNN.
Great Clips franchise owners Brittany Hager and Jennifer Small told Missouri’s KY3 in a statement May 22 that, after the potential exposures, the salon closed to undergo “additional sanitizing and deep cleaning” in accordance with government recommendations.
Customers and employees who were potentially exposed were notified and offered testing; 46 took tests that came back negative, CNN reported.
The others were quarantined for 14 days and called twice a day to see if they had COVID-19 symptoms. Now, that incubation period is up, and no clients seem to have gotten ill.
A stylist in Georgia wears gloves while giving a haircut during the coronavirus pandemic.
Paras Griffin/Getty Images
The hopeful findings point to the power of masks in helping to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus, Goddard said, according to CNN. “We are studying more closely the details of these exposures, including what types of face coverings were worn and what other precautions were taken to lead to this encouraging result,” he said.
The World Health Organization has long emphasized that masks are only one part of a comprehensive approach to in the fight against the coronavirus.
“The cornerstone of the response in every country must be to find, isolate, test and care for every case, and to trace and quarantine every contact,” the director-general said in a regular press briefing June 5. “That is what we know works. That is every country’s best defense against COVID-19.”
It’s unclear how salon and barbershop openings are affecting coronavirus numbers country-wide
Many states, including Georgia and Texas, also allowed barbershops and salons to open last month. It’s not clear how they have or haven’t affected the states’ coronavirus numbers, but it’s clear the pandemic is far from over in the country.
The US has nearly 2 million confirmed cases and more than 112,600 deaths. 21 states have reported a recent increase in new cases, according to The New York Times, which some experts are tying to Memorial Day weekend gatherings.
Others expect to see more linked to protests against police brutality and systemic racism, sparked by the killing of George Floyd, a Black man who died while pinned under the knee of a White police officer in Minneapolis, May 25.
“It’s a delicate balance, because the reasons for demonstrating are valid,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, the US’s top infectious-disease expert, said June 5. “And yet, the demonstration itself puts one at an additional risk.”
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