SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KRON) — Gov. Gavin Newsom said Thursday the state’s first community-spread case of coronavirus happened in a nail salon.
Newsom revealed the information when answering a question about why nail salons are not allowed to reopen until Stage 3 of California’s reopening guidelines.
“This whole thing started in the state of California, the first community spread, in a nail salon,” Newsom said.
The governor did not provide specifics and did not disclose which nail salon it happened in. But now, workers in the industry are reacting to the news.
“I was surprised because for me, being in the nail industry for over 30 years, I didn’t know that,” Michelle Saunders James said. “I just felt the heartbreak of all nail salons, of all manicurists.”
Saunders James opened her salon in Oakland just eight weeks before shelter in place orders hit the Bay Area, and immediately had to furlough her entire staff. though she didn’t expect to be included in the phase one re-opening, she’s frustrated that the state hasn’t provided any guidelines for her industry.
“What has the state of California done to protect manicurists, to protect our clients? We haven’t heard one thing about what we can do to protect our team members,” she said.
As of Thursday, 14 states had lifted restrictions on nail salons with at least four more set to do so in the coming days. In California, nail salons have been included among high risk businesses. But not all health experts agree with that designation.
“No, not at all. Especially with what we now know about COVID, and especially with the mitigation approaches that I think are widespread knowledge now,” Dr. John Fullerton said.
Those approaches can potentially be applied to businesses like nail salons as the reopening process continues.
“Instead of thinking about how to keep nail salons closed, and I think with the data we have scientifically that would be very hard to show right now, I think we should instead be thinking about more creative ways of reopening,” Dr. Fullerton said.
That could include anything from PPE like plastic shields, to pre-paying for appointments online to minimize contact.
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