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2 stylists had COVID-19, but wore masks. 139 of their clients didn't become ill

CDC says a potential virus outbreak may have been prevented when all wore face masks. The CDC and researchers say masks might also reduce COVID-19 severity.

WASHINGTON, D.C., USA — The Centers for Disease Control has highlighted a significant case study where 139 clients in Missouri who visited a hair salon might have been saved from catching the coronavirus because everyone was wearing masks. 

In a newly released report from the agency, the CDC detailed how two hair stylists at a salon in Springfield, Missouri, started experiencing respiratory symptoms and wound up testing positive for COVID-19. 

Before their diagnoses, the stylists spent at least 15 minutes with 139 clients over the course of several days. However, contact tracing revealed none of the clients came down with COVID-19. Of 104 clients interviewed, 102 said they wore masks during their appointments. The CDC said a company policy and city ordinance may have played a role in stopping the spread of coronavirus from the stylists to their clients. 

The agency said among 67 clients tested for SARS-CoV-2, all test results were negative. No symptomatic secondary cases were reported and 72 others refused to be tested.

The CDC noted that as the country tries to lift stay-at-home orders, a plan to broadly require cloth face coverings could mitigate community virus spread.

Credit: CDC

USA Today highlighted a point by Dr. John Brooks, a medical epidemiologist and the CDC's chief medical officer for the agency’s COVID-19 response. Brooks says that face cloths are not 100% effective, but that they can reduce how much of the virus you are inhaling. He says, "wearing them means you're exposed to less virus. Less is coming in from other people and you're inhaling less. It's a win-win."

That means that evidence seems to shows that if someone contracted COVID-19, and they were wearing a face covering, they would contract a less severe form of the disease the CDC has indicated.

This hypothesis will be laid out in the Journal of General Internal Medicine as well, according to reports

As Axios reports, 25 states, plus the District of Columbia, have put mask mandates in place for public spaces. Many major retailers have added restrictions in as well. Walmart and Sam's Club announced Wednesday its stores would require all customers to wear masks starting Monday, July 20. Other large retailers like Costco, Starbucks, Target and Best Buy have previously issued mask mandates.   

RELATED: DeVos says schools shouldn't get federal funds if they don't reopen in the fall

Gov. Mike Parson sought to reassure Missourians about the coronavirus pandemic Wednesday as cases continued to swell.

“WE ARE NOT DEFENSELESS AGAINST COVID-19," Parson, a Republican, said in a tweet, one day after the state set another record for new cases. “We are much better prepared now to deal with the virus than we were in March. We know more about the virus. We know how to box-in outbreaks. We have accelerated testing and our health care system is stable."

RELATED: Coronavirus under control in 8 weeks if everyone wears masks, CDC director says

As the number of cases rise, schools are making decisions about what classes will look like in the fall.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.