Hairstylist with COVID-19 served 84 clients while symptomatic, Missouri

A Great Clips hairstylist exposed dozens of clients to coronavirus while showing symptoms, Missouri health officials say.

The stylist at a salon franchise in Springfield served 84 clients and exposed seven coworkers, the Springfield-Greene County Health Department said Friday. The hairstylist also visited a Dairy Queen, Walmart and fitness center, officials said.

The announcement comes as barbers and salon operators and their customers across the U.S. fight to reopen during the COVID-19 pandemic. Missouri state leaders allowed these businesses to reopen May 4.

“I’m very frustrated to be up here,” Springfield-Greene County Health Department Director Clay Goddard said. “And maybe more so, I’m disappointed.”

The hairstylist exhibited symptoms while working on eight days between May 12 and May 20, health officials said. The health department is providing testing to all people “directly exposed” to the hairstylist. The stylist and clients wore masks during the appointments, officials said.

Goddard said people not already contacted by the health department are considered to be “low risk.”

In a statement, the Great Clips franchise owners told McClatchy News the location is closed to undergo sanitizing and “deep cleaning” under guidelines provided by the county health department and CDC.

“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,” the owners said.

Goddard commended Great Clips’ actions and deemed the location safe to customers during a news conference Friday.

“We are hopeful that their strictly-enforced policy of masking will prevent any future spread from this case. They also kept detailed records that have made contact tracing a speedy process,” Goddard said.

The health department director said the incident does not affect the community’s “recovery plan” but warned of similar scenarios as the reopening phases turn from mandates to personal responsibility.

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

Oh, great! I had my hair done today after months of being a shaggy mess. It was NOT a Great Clips. There was only one customer at a time, I was asked about my health status upon entry and my stylist said she had her temperature taken daily. We both wore masks the entire time…she had a cute trick for cutting around my ears and she wore gloves as well. She sanitized before and after me and sanitized all her equipment before each customer. All in all, I felt very comfortable and safe. It can be done.

Americans have to break the habit of working while sick and employers have to insist that workers stay home when I’ll and incentivize them to do so instead of many current systems that punish time off for illnesses. We have to change some very bad habits we’ve had for a long time.

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