Mo. hair stylist works while symptomatic, tests positive for coronavirus

(Source: MGN)
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) -- Dozens of people may have been exposed to the coronavirus while getting their hair cut in Missouri after local health leaders say a hair stylist tested positive for the virus and worked while symptomatic.

Between May 12 and May 20, a stylist at a Great Clips came in contact with 84 clients and seven coworkers, who now all will be tested for the coronavirus.

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

The individual had recently returned from traveling elsewhere in Missouri outside of the Springfield region, according to Goddard.

Goddard said even though the individual and their clients wore masks during the timeline of potential exposure, this should not have happened in the first place.

“I think we need to comprehend the consequences of this,” Goddard said.

Other hair stylists share in his frustration such as Anissa Lilley, the manager of a nearby SuperCuts.

"For a stylist to be out of work for so long and be excited to come back to work, you would think you'd want to be safe, and you don't want to be shut down again," Lilley said.

After being closed for weeks, Lilley said she and her staff are taking extra precautions so they can stay open, such as sanitizing, taking employees' temperatures and limiting the number of people inside.

"We want to work, we want to service our community and it's hard that some people aren't following the rules and don't care about everyone's safety," she said.

SuperCuts is also making sure stylists and clients are wearing masks at all times, a policy that Great Clips also has. Goddard said this is considered “corporate responsibility" and in this recent case, it was individual responsibility that was lacking.

“We’re in a new phase of this disease where we’re going to walk that tight rope between disease control and economic harm. If we’re going to work sick and sharing this illness with others, that’s not a good approach,” Goddard said.

He said there is somewhat of a bright side, since now the effectiveness of masks in stopping the spread of the virus can be determined. However, Goddard said this can’t happen anymore.

"We can't make this a regular habit or our capability as a community will be strained and we will have to reevaluate how things look going forward," he said.

The owners of the affected Great Clips, Brittany Hager and Jennifer Small, reporting the salon would be closed as it undergoes "additional sanitizing and deep cleaning" with guidance from the local health department and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"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," Hager and Small said in their statement.

It is unclear if the stylist knew if they had tested positive while continuing to work.