Two hair stylists in Missouri prevented 139 of their clients from getting COVID-19 through vigilant mask wearing. According to a report published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), two symptomatic hair stylists with confirmed COVID-19 wore face masks and cut the hair of 139 masked customers for nearly a week in May. The result: no clients are known to be infected.
Graphic via the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
In May, a hair stylist in Springfield, Missouri developed respiratory symptoms and continued working with clients for 8 days, when the stylist received a positive test result for COVID-19. The second stylist, who had been exposed to the first stylist, also developed respiratory symptoms and worked with clients before testing positive for COVID-19. Afterward the positive test results for COVID-19, the hair salon closed for 3 days to disinfect frequently touched and contaminated areas.
Both the stylists and their 139 clients followed the City of Springfield ordinance and the hair salon’s company policy of face coverings. The CDC report states that the stylists wore a double-layered cotton face covering while the clients reported wearing either cloth face coverings, surgical masks, or N95 respirators.
After public health contact tracings and 2 weeks of follow-up, no COVID-19 symptoms were identified among the 139 exposed clients or their secondary clients.
What are the implications?
In a statement released by the Springfield-Greene County Health Department, in addition to face covering policies, various other safety precautions were implemented as well—such as distancing salon chairs and staggering appointments.
“This is exciting news about the value of masking to prevent COVID-19,” said Clay Goddard, the Director of Health of the Springfield-Greene County Health Department. “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. We never want an exposure like this to happen, but this situation will greatly expand our understanding of how this novel coronavirus spreads.”
The CDC also recommends the implementation of various workplace policies such as face coverings for employees and clients, daily monitoring of signs and symptoms, procedures for screening employees who arrive with or develop symptoms at work, and post messages to inform and educate employees and clients.
The findings are consistent with what public health officials and scientists have been saying for months: face masks are crucial in preventing coronavirus transmission. The CDC report concludes that as stay-at-home orders are listed, face covering policies work and have the potential to slow the spread of infection in the general public.