RALEIGH, N.C. - The number of coronavirus infections tied to a North Carolina salon has grown to more than a dozen.
At least 18 positive COVID-19 cases have been linked to Enchanting Hair Fashions, a Haywood County spokesperson told McClatchy News on Wednesday afternoon.
Those who tested positive include five workers and six clients of the hair salon, officials said. The 11 cases are considered a "cluster," which the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services defines as at least five cases appearing at the same location within a two-week period.
Seven additional coronavirus cases have been reported among "close contacts" of people at the hair salon, said Allison Richmond, public information officer for emergency services in Haywood County. "Close contact" is defined as spending at least 15 minutes within 6 feet of an infected person, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Enchanting Hair Fashions was closed as of Wednesday afternoon and didn't immediately respond to McClatchy News' request for comment on Thursday morning. The hair salon is in Canton, roughly 20 miles west of Asheville.
The number of total infections connected to the salon has risen since the county's health department on Sept. 17 initially reported 13 cases. Three people were in hospitals at the time, officials said.
"We believe identifying a cluster is important for transparency and to raise awareness for the public about COVID-19 transmission," Patrick Johnson, public health services director, said last week in a news release.
In a later update that didn't name the salon but mentioned its outbreak, the Haywood County health department encouraged people to wear face coverings to help reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19.
"The new cluster is from a business where mask-wearing was not practiced consistently by an employee," officials said.
The CDC urges people to wear masks in public to help stop the spread of particles that are released when a person speaks, coughs or sneezes.
In Missouri, no new COVID-19 cases were discovered after two infected hairstylists worked with 140 customers, McClatchy News reported in June. Officials say everyone was wearing masks, likely helping to stop transmission.
Visit The News & Observer (Raleigh, N.C.) at www.newsobserver.com(c)2020 The News & Observer (Raleigh, N.C.), Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.