Thirteen cases of COVID-19, including three patients who were hospitalized, were followed to a hairdresser in Canton.
The COVID cluster at Enchanting Hair Fashions included three stylists and five clients. Five additional cases involve family members.
The Haywood County Health and Humanitarian Services Agency released the announcement Thursday afternoon after extensive consultation with the North Carolina Department of Health.
“We believe that identifying a cluster is important for transparency and raising public awareness of COVID-1
Johnson and his staff have been tracking salon-related cases for several days, but can’t legally uncover a group of cases until they’re sure they meet the cluster definition – which is five or more cases among staff and customers clearly related to specific place of business.
“To reach that threshold, we need to have a clear connection between these cases,” Johnson said.
While only eight cases are considered part of the salon cluster, additional family members infected by clients and staff make up a total of 13 cases with three hospitalizations.
“To put it in perspective, this cluster alone represents one-third of the cases identified in Haywood County since Sept. 8,” Johnson said.
Workplace handover has become one of the leading reasons for the spread of COVID in Haywood County, but most do not reach the threshold of five cases to be considered an official cluster. The salon is making the third workplace cluster identified in Haywood County since March.
Johnson said wearing a mask is crucial to stopping the spread of COVID, especially in establishments such as salons, where social distance between stylist and client is not possible.
“If you get a haircut, you need to make sure your stylist is dressed and masked, and you’re wearing a mask, and there’s no exception,” Johnson said.
A phone call left in the gym was not answered immediately.
Haywood County Public Health is working to identify any additional close contacts of the people identified in this cluster. Based on the information provided during contact tracking, county health officials will assess the risks of exposure, determine which, if additional measures are needed, quarantine and / or testing.
The North Carolina Department of Public Health identifies COVID-19 clusters in the workplace, education, and other community settings as: 1) a minimum of five cases of disease or initial positive results within a 14-day period AND, 2) a plausible relationship between cases where the cases were present in the same setting during the same period of time; that the time corresponds to the probable moment of exposure; and that there is no other more likely source of exposure for identified cases.
Symptomatic individuals who test positive will need to remain isolated under the following conditions: 1) At least 10 days have passed since the onset of symptoms I, 2) At least 24 hours have passed since the last fever without the use of temperature-reducing drugs, and 3) Symptoms (such as cough and shortness of breath) have improved. Asymptomatic individuals who test positive will need to remain in isolation under the following conditions: 1) At least 10 days have passed since their test, if it is assumed that they have not subsequently developed symptoms after their test.