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First 42 coronavirus tests at Missouri salon all negative

Test results are in for the first 42 clients at Missouri hair salon who were potentially exposed to the new coronavirus by two sick stylists, and they all tested negative, health officials said.

The Springfield-Greene County Health Department is testing 140 clients of a Great Clips salon in the southwestern Missouri city. The first results were announced late Thursday.

It wasn’t immediately clear when all of the results will be complete. Health officials planned a news briefing on Friday.

The health department announced last week that a stylist served 84 clients over eight days in mid-May while experiencing coronavirus symptoms. A co-worker also became sick and potentially exposed 56 more clients. The health agency said both stylists tested positive for COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus.

The stylists and all of their clients wore face masks, health officials said.

Great Clips said in a statement Thursday that it was closing all of its Springfield salons after two threatening messages — one in a Facebook message to an employee, the other phoned to a salon.

In both cases, the messages “were threatening to shut the place down” because the stylists potentially exposed people to the virus, Springfield Police spokeswoman Jasmine Bailey said. It was too soon the know if the threats came from the same person, Bailey said.

Salons were allowed to reopen in Missouri under Republican Gov. Mike Parson’s order that went into effect May 5, despite concerns from some about the close proximity required for barbers and hairstylists to work with their clients.

Greene County, which includes Springfield, has had 128 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and seven deaths during the pandemic, the local health department said.

For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and can lead to death.

Parson said Friday that he’s hopeful Missouri will see “more consistent policies” across the state by the middle of June in terms of how businesses and activities are regulated to control the spread of the coronavirus.

Parson’s reopening plan that began May 5 still requires 6-foot social distancing and, for many businesses and organizations, capacity limits indoors. On Thursday, he announced that the second phase of the plan was pushed back to June 15 from May 31. Parson said the change was not due to a setback but out of an abundance of caution. He has not yet announced how phase 2 will differ from phase 1.

The Kansas City and St. Louis areas continued more stringent regulations after the May 5 reopening because the vast majority of the state’s confirmed cases and deaths were in the metropolitan areas, particularly in St. Louis city and county.

Parson, speaking Friday at a news conference with St. Louis County Executive Sam Page, a Democrat, said that by the time phase 2 of his plan is implemented, he’s hopeful the policies across the state will be more aligned.

“I’ve talked to the county executives, I’ve talked to the city mayors, and I think we’re all trying to focus to that point, where it’s not confusing for people to go from one area to the other, what you can do and what you can’t do,” Parson said. “We want to move forward now.”

 

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