Hairstylists With Covid-19 Didn’t Infect Any Of Their 139 Clients

September 8, 2020

Two stylists in Missouri interacted with a total of 139 clients and six co-workers before learning they were both infected with COVID-19 – fortunately, according to health officials, the stylists did not transmit the virus to those contacts.

According to a statement from the Springfield-Greene County Health Department, the stylists worked at a Great Clips salon in Springfield, where various safety measures are in place to mitigate the potential spread of COVID-19. Appointments have been staggered to limit potential contamination between customers, and salon chairs have been placed further away than usual. Stylists also maintain a 6-foot (1.8-meter) distance from customers when not cutting their hair, and the salon requires both stylists and customers to wear masks during appointments, according to Steve Pokin, a client and reporter at Great Clips, who wrote about his visit to the salon in mid-May.

“I didn’t think you could cut the hair of someone wearing a mask,” he wrote in the Springfield News-Press.” The stylist asked me to hold the mask down briefly while she removed the straps and trimmed one side of my head, then the other. It wasn’t difficult.” (After learning that two of the salon’s stylists tested positive for COVID-19, Borkin was tested for the infection. The health department did not contact him directly because the stylists who cut his hair were not infected. His test results were negative).

The health department offered free diagnostic tests to 139 customers who saw the infected hairdresser, as well as six potentially exposed great clip employees, according to a report of the incident, published Tuesday (July 14) in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MWR) journal. A total of 67 people actually underwent diagnostic testing, the report said, and they all tested negative. In addition, all “potentially exposed [clients and coworkers] were isolated for the duration of their exposure,” the health department noted.

None of the clients reported symptoms of COVID-19 during their 2-week quarantine period. Based on this evidence, the health department and MMWR concluded that no client or coworker contracted the virus from any infected stylist. (MMWR reported, however, that health officials could not rule out the possibility that some clients who were not tested for COVID-19 had asymptomatic cases.)

In a statement, health department director Clay Goddard said, “This is exciting news about the value of masking for COVID-19 prevention.”

MMWR reports that health officials also conducted telephone interviews with 104 of 139 clients, 98 percent of whom reported wearing a face mask throughout their appointment, while 2 percent reported wearing a mask part of the time. The types of masks used by clients varied, with the majority wearing cloth or surgical masks and a few wearing N95 masks.

“These results support the use of face masks in places open to the public, especially where social isolation is not possible, to reduce the transmission of SARS-CoV-2,” the authors of the MMWR report concluded.