Hairstylist with coronavirus potentially exposed 91 people to disease, say health officials

Andrew Buncombe
The salon in Springfield has been closed for sanitising: KYTV

A hairstylist from Missouri potentially exposed more than 90 customers and colleagues to coronavirus after going to work for a week with symptoms of the disease, officials have warned.

Health officials in Springfield, 200 miles southwest of St Louis, issued a warning advising people that they may been exposed to Covid19 if they visited Great Clips salon between 12 May and last Wednesday.

They said the stylist, who has not been named, had tested positive for coronavirus and was thought to have become infected while travelling.

“The individual and their clients were wearing face coverings. The 84 clients potentially directly exposed will be notified by the health department and be offered testing, as will seven coworkers,” the Springfield-Greene County health department said in a statement.

“It is the hope of the department that because face coverings were worn throughout this exposure timeline, no additional cases will result.”

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At a subsequent press conference, the department’s director Clay Goddard said he was worried about the implications of what had taken place. Officials said staff and customers who were potentially directly exposed will be notified by the health department and offered testing.

“I’m gong to be honest with you, we can’t have many more of these,” he said, according to CNN. “We can’t make this a regular habit or our capabilities as a community will be strained.”

The incident underscored the challenges and pitfalls faced by businesses worldwide as nations seek to emerge from lockdowns imposed during the pandemic.

In the US, Donald Trump led the push for reopening, even though he has left it to individual states to make the final decision. With unemployment already at about 20 per cent as a result of the lockdown and shuttering of businesses the president is desperate for them to reopen, having pinned his re-election hopes on the strength of the economy. Critics say he is pushing too quickly, and that he risks incidents such as the Missouri one and a second wave of infections.

Hair and nail salons are among a number of businesses that several states have permitted to reopen, including Missouri. Officials said staff at the salon, along with the customers, had been wearing masks.

They said the stylist who tested positive had provided details of their movements to help the department trace people they may have come into contact with.

Nobody from the salon on Saturday immediately responded to enquiries from The Independent.

However, in a statement provided to the KYTV television channel, owners Brittany Hager and Jennifer Small said that keeping clients safe was their top priority.

“We’ve closed the salon where the employee works and it’s currently undergoing additional sanitising and deep cleaning consistent with guidance from the Springfield-Greene County Health Department and the CDC,” they said. “We will reopen the salon based on guidance from the health department.”

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