July 16, 2020

CDC: Adherence to Face-Covering Policy at Salon "Likely Mitigated Spread of SARS-CoV-2"

A new report published earlier this week by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that adherence to face-covering policies likely mitigated the spread of SARS-CoV-2 when 139 clients were exposed to two hair stylists with COVID-19 in May. According to CDC, both stylists worked for several days at their salon in Springfield, Missouri, with respiratory symptoms before seeking testing for the new coronavirus. The stylists wore a double-layered cotton face covering or a surgical mask during all appointments with clients, which lasted from 15 to 45 minutes each. Most of the clients reported wearing either cloth face coverings or surgical masks, but a few wore N95 respirators. No symptoms of COVID-19 were identified among the exposed clients or their secondary contacts during public health contact tracing or after two weeks of follow-up. None of the other stylists who worked closely with the two stylists with COVID-19 reported symptoms either; the other stylists were quarantined and monitored for 14 days after their last exposure to the two who tested positive for the virus. The two stylists who got sick interacted without masks during intervals between clients while the one who first received a positive test result for SARS-CoV-2 was symptomatic.

“These findings support the role of source control in preventing transmission and can inform the development of public health policy during the COVID-19 pandemic,” the report states. “Broader implementation of masking policies could mitigate the spread of infection in the general population.”

All 139 clients were offered testing five days after exposure or as soon as possible for those who were exposed more than five days before contact tracing began. Sixty-seven clients volunteered to be tested, while 72 refused. CDC reports that all 67 nasopharyngeal swab specimens tested negative for SARS-CoV-2 by polymerase chain reaction, or PCR. Since only a subset of clients was tested, agency researchers noted that asymptomatic clients could have been missed.

CDC’s report stresses that the use of face coverings is key in minimizing the spread of SARS-CoV-2 from people who are presymptomatic, asymptomatic, and symptomatic. The agency recommends workplace policies regarding the use of face coverings for both employees and clients. Employers should also monitor employees’ symptoms and establish procedures for screening employees who arrive with or develop symptoms at work.

The study was published in CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.