A Missouri hairstylist who had COVID-19 symptoms and tested positive for the disease served 84 clients over eight days earlier this month, a county health department said Friday.
On Saturday, the Springfield-Greene County Health Department announced that a second hairstylist at the salon tested positive for COVID-19. The person reportedly worked five days while experiencing mild symptoms, potentially exposing 56 clients to the virus.
With the second confirmed case, the total number of clients who were potentially exposed to the virus at the salon is 140.
(See the update on the results of testing below.)
The second hairstylist tested positive for COVID-19 only after they were alerted by the Health Department of possible exposure at their workplace, a Great Clips location on South Glenstone Avenue in central Springfield.
The health department said it would notify and offer testing to the 140 clients who have been potentially exposed, as well as at least six other co-workers. These individuals do not need to self-quarantine unless symptoms develop.
The hairstylists and their clients were wearing face coverings, which could potentially limit the exposure, according to the Health Department.
The first stylist also visited a gym several times while infectious, as well as a Dairy Queen and Walmart, the Health Department said.
Great Clips, a budget hair salon chain headquartered in Minneapolis, said in a statement that its central Springfield location would be closed while it undergoes thorough sanitizing and deep cleaning, The Associated Press reported.
Identifying those who had come into contact with the hairstylists was possible in these cases thanks to the salon’s impeccable records, Clay Goddard, director of the Springfield-Greene County Health Department, said during a news conference. Still, more incidents like this could overwhelm the department’s capacity to identify the origin of infections.
“I’m going to be honest with you: We can’t have many more of these,” Goddard said. “We can’t make this a regular habit or our capabilities as a community will be strained.”
There have been more than 11,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Missouri and at least 685 deaths. Gov. Mike Parson (R) allowed the state’s stay-at-home order to expire on May 3.
All businesses in Missouri outside of St. Louis County, including movie theaters and concert venues, were allowed to reopen beginning May 4 as long as they implemented certain social distancing measures. St. Louis County and the City of St. Louis began to gradually ease coronavirus restrictions last week.
UPDATE ― 06/09/20: No clients or additional co-workers tested positive within the two-week incubation period after the two hairstylists worked while infected, the Springfield-Greene County Health Department said in a statement Monday.
“This is exciting news about the value of masking to prevent COVID-19,” Health Department director Clay Goddard said. “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.”
The department said testing was offered to all those potentially exposed to the virus. Of the roughly 140 people who may have been exposed at the salon, 46 pursued testing. Their results were all negative.
Every person potentially exposed was subjected to a two-week quarantine, which included being contacted twice a day by county health officials to monitor for symptoms, a spokesperson for the Health Department said. If any symptoms had developed, they would have been tested, the spokesperson added.
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