CDC says face coverings likely stopped spread of COVID-19 by 2 infected hair stylists to 139 clients

In May, reports surfaced of two Missouri hair stylists with COVID-19 who potentially exposed 139 clients to the novel coronavirus.

On July 14, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention noted that none of the clients were known to have become infected with COVID-19, highlighting the fact that all of the clients wore facial coverings.

“Adherence to the community’s and company’s face-covering policy likely mitigated spread of SARS-CoV-2,” the CDC wrote in its July 14 report.

Titled “Absence of Apparent Transmission of SARS-CoV-2 from Two Stylists After Exposure at a Hair Salon with a Universal Face Covering Policy — Springfield, Missouri, May 2020,” the CDC’s report described how one hair stylist at a Springfield, Missouri salon developed respiratory symptoms on May 12. That stylist then tested positive for the novel coronavirus, eight days after experiencing her initial symptoms.

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The second hair stylist developed respiratory symptoms on May 15. That stylist took a COVID-19 test five days later on May 20, and received positive results on May 22. 

The CDC said that 139 clients were treated by the two stylists from the time they developed symptoms until they took a leave of absence.

But both of the stylists, as well as the 139 clients, had been following an ordinance from the City of Springfield as well as the salon’s own recommendation for wearing face masks indoors. After being quarantined and monitored, none of the other stylists reported COVID-19 symptoms, the CDC report said.

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For the 139 people who were exposed, two weeks of contact tracing and follow-up efforts showed that none of them nor their secondary contacts had developed COVID-19, according to the health agency.

“A policy mandating the use of face coverings was likely a contributing factor in preventing transmission of SARS-CoV-2 during the close-contact interactions between stylists and clients in salon A,” the CDC said. “Consistent and correct use of face coverings, when appropriate, is an important tool for minimizing spread of SARS-CoV-2 from presymptomatic, asymptomatic, and symptomatic persons.”

Governments and public health organizations around the world have been reiterating the importance of wearing masks and facial coverings to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Multiple U.S. states have required people to wear masks in public, while leaders in Britain and France recently announced mandates requiring residents to wear masks.

Even Melania Trump, whose husband President Donald Trump resisted wearing a mask or urging anyone else to do so, called on people to step up precautions.

“Even in the summer months, please remember to wear face coverings & practice social distancing,” she said Tuesday in a posting on her Twitter account. “The more precaution we take now can mean a healthier & safer country in the Fall.”

The CDC notes that while masks are beneficial, it is also important for people to continue to practice other preventative measures, such as hand washing and social distancing.