On Friday, the Springfield-Greene Health Department in Missouri confirmed that a hairstylist at a Great Clips salon had exposed 84 clients and seven coworkers as they continued to do hair while sick with the virus. Just one day later, they announced that a second hairstylist also tested positive for coronavirus, and may have exposed 56 more clients at the same salon. While officials would not confirm when the stylists initially tested positive, they did confirm that both had symptoms while at work.
This announcement comes at a pivotal time when businesses, including beauty salons, are reopening amidst the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, that is showing no signs of easing up throughout the country. Over 97,000 people have died from coronavirus in the United States, where the number of confirmed cases has topped 1.6 million, according to Johns Hopkins, with Missouri alone having nearly 12,000 cases of infections and more than 650 deaths.
The Health Department confirmed that the salon kept accurate records, which made contact tracing possible. They also confirmed that both stylists and clients wore face coverings during services. While the agency is hopeful that the use of face masks prevented the spread of the virus, they still caution that instances such as these need to be avoided moving forward.
“I’m going to be honest with you: We can’t have many more of these,” Clay Goddard, director of the Springfield-Greene County Health Department said at a news conference. “We can’t make this a regular habit or our capabilities as a community will be strained.”
The Great Clips owners also issued a statement to CNN, saying that, “The well-being of Great Clips customers and stylists in the salon is our top priority and proper sanitization has always been an important cosmetology industry practice for Great Clips salons. We’ve closed the salon where the employee works and it’s currently undergoing additional sanitizing and deep cleaning.”