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Almost 140 Exposed To COVID-19 At Reopened Hair Salon Where Stylists Worked While Sick

It’s easy to look at businesses beginning to open back up and assume that means it must be safe to go about our lives again, if certain restrictions are loosening up or coming to an end. But many people believe that the United States is reopening too soon, and some stories coming out may be proving them right.

A hairstylist at a Great Clips in Missouri reportedly served 84 clients while showing symptoms of COVID-19, and ultimately tested positive for the virus.

The Springfield-Greene County Health Department said that the unidentified stylist exhibited symptoms between May 12 and May 20, but continued going into work, exposing both customers and coworkers.

That Great Clips location immediately closed down to undergo a “deep cleaning,” following regulations provided by the county health department and the CDC, reports The Kansas City Star.

“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,” said the owners.

Missouri allowed businesses to begin reopening with certain specifications as of May 4.

Social distancing isn’t required in places like salons, but some places, including Great Clips, have opted to require masks for both customers and employees.

While some folks have been eager to get back to work to their lives, critics of ending stay-at-home orders have slammed states like Missouri, claiming they just want to reopen quickly to push people off unemployment benefits and force them back to work in the midst of a dangerous pandemic.

These criticisms have gone hand in hand with concern that such a scenario would put people in a position where they had to either come into work sick and risk infecting others, or have no way of paying their bills.

Unfortunately, a second stylist at the salon has since tested positive.

One of the coworkers of the person initially infected with COVID-19 tested positive for the virus after the story first broke. This person worked with 56 additional clients during the time they made have already been infected with the virus, and worked for five days while “experiencing very mild symptoms.”

All the people who had “direct exposure” to either of the stylists who have tested positive — meaning not everyone who came into the salon — have been notified and are being offered tests, according to officials.

“At this time, this is the only other positive result we have had from those tested as a result of the previous exposure,” the city said.

Some consider this story proof that we are not ready to begin reopening.

The virus hasn’t been contained, we don’t have a vaccine, and we don’t have economic protections in place for those who experience symptoms but live paycheck to paycheck and need to work to survive. Additionally, it’s clear that not everyone understands the risks that are still so present.

For now, this potential mass exposure isn’t effecting Missouri’s overall reopening, but if more people test positive from this encounter, or if more similar situations pop up, things could get a lot worse.

“I’m going to be honest with you. We can’t have many more of these,” said Springfield-Greene County Health Department Director Clay Goddard. “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. Each of us owns just how this will go forward in our community.”