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Health Department Director Clay Goddard says the community cannot handle many more outbreak incidents.
SBJ photo by Geoff Pickle
Health Department Director Clay Goddard says the community cannot handle many more outbreak incidents.

Health Department: Great Clips stylists worked while symptomatic

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Last edited 12:05 p.m., May 26, 2020

The Springfield-Greene County Health Department held an unplanned news conference Friday afternoon to warn residents of potential COVID-19 exposures.

"I'm very frustrated to be up here today," Health Department Director Clay Goddard said at the start of the livestreamed news conference.

Officials discovered a hairstylist at the 1864 S. Glenstone Ave. location of Great Clips worked eight days between May 12 and May 20 while having symptoms of COVID-19. During that time, the individual had appointments with 84 clients. The employee and clients wore face masks in line with rules on personal care businesses, he said, adding it's safe to visit the Great Clips store.

The day after, the Health Department announced a second stylist at the Great Clips shop tested positive for COVID-19. A news release indicated the employee worked May 16-20 “while experiencing very mild symptoms.” The employee had 56 clients during that time.

At the May 22 news conference, Goddard said the Great Clips incident does not change the Road to Recovery initiative that's being rolled out in phases. City leaders further relaxed the rules last week.

"This scenario is well within our capacity ... but I'm going to be honest with you, we can't have many more of these," he said. "We can't make this a regular habit, or our capability as a community will be strained and we will have to reevaluate what things look like going forward."

Goddard said there's currently no legal precedent regarding COVID-19 to hold individuals or companies liable for endangering the public health.

"There are some conditions that there are legal liabilities that play a role. I know HIV is one that's on the books," he said. "In this case, this individual would not have known their disease status. I don't think that there would be any applicable legal liabilities, but that's something we'd have to talk to an attorney about."

Additionally, the first hairstylist went to a handful of businesses while symptomatic. They visited 10 Fitness, 1444 S. Glenstone Ave., on May 14, May 15 and May 18; Dairy Queen, 3665 E. Sunshine St., on May 18; and Walmart, 2021 E. Independence St., on May 20. A full timeline of potential exposures has been posted to the city’s website.

The potential exposures at the Springfield Great Clips store made the national news, including CNN.

Also, a separate individual visited CVS at Campbell Avenue and Battlefield Road on May 20, according to a news release.

The Health Department’s COVID-19 dashboard, which was updated Tuesday morning, shows 125 confirmed cases and seven confirmed deaths. It points to another 20 probable cases and one additional probable death.

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