Two American hairdressers who wore masks while infected with the coronavirus did not transmit COVID-19 to nearly 140 clients whom they saw in the course of several days, according to a study on Tuesday.The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which published the report, said the results added weight to universal face covering policies to slow the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
On May 12, a hairdresser (stylist A) developed respiratory symptoms in a salon in Springfield, Missouri and continued to work with clients until May 20, when she received a positive test for the new coronavirus.
Stylist A ignored medical advice to isolate herself after her May 18 test.
A second hairstylist (stylist B), who had been exposed to the first, developed symptoms on May 15 and also continued to work until May 20, when stylist A obtained his result.
Stylist B tested positive two days later.
At this point, the salon closed for three days for disinfection while Greene County health officials performed a contact search, identifying a total of 139 clients seen by the two infected stylists.
The rest of the staff were also quarantined for two weeks.
During their interactions with clients, the two stylists had worn masks: Stylist A had worn a double-layered cotton face cover, while Stylist B had worn either a double-layered cotton face cover or a surgical mask.
But even when stylist A had symptoms, the two stylists interacted with each other when neither was hidden at intervals between clients.
The 139 clients were monitored for symptoms over the next two weeks, and tests were offered to all, to be performed five days after their exposure.
None of the 67 who tested tested positive, and none of those who refused the test reported symptoms within 14 days of receiving daily text messages to inquire about their health. .
Clients were roughly gender balanced and their ages ranged from 21 to 93, the average being 52 years. The vast majority wore masks for the duration of their meetings, which varied between 15 minutes and 45 minutes.
Clients mostly wore cloth masks or surgical masks, while about 5% wore N95 respirators.
Scientists believe that while the large droplets emitted by people when they cough or sneeze are primarily responsible for the spread of COVID-19, the smaller droplets released during ordinary speech are also potentially dangerous.
This is especially important because people can spread the virus unknowingly within two to three days before they develop symptoms, or a carrier in rare cases may never develop symptoms.
The CDC report authors concluded: “Widespread adoption of policies requiring face masks in public places should be considered to reduce the impact and magnitude of the additional waves of COVID-19. “