Barber defiantly working despite shutdown tests positive for coronavirus
A barber working at a barbershop in a New York suburb that had been operating in defiance of the state's close order has tested positive for COVID-19, according to health officials.
Ulster County health officials are searching for anyone who may have had their haircut at the barbershop over the last three weeks, a statement from the county says. Kingston is located roughly 140km north of New York City.
"We are taking extraordinary measures to try and minimise the spread of this dangerous disease and learning that a barbershop has been operating illicitly for weeks with a COVID-19 positive employee is extraordinarily disheartening," said Dr. Carol Smith, the health commissioner for Ulster County, in a statement.
County health officials are recommending anyone who received a haircut at the shop on Broadway during the past three weeks to get tested for the coronavirus.
"This kind of direct contact has the potential to dramatically spread this virus throughout our community and beyond," Smith said.
There are currently 1,563 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Ulster County and 64 fatalities, according to the county. People who came in contact with the Kingston barbershop should contact the Ulster County Department of Health and Mental Health.
According to directives from Governor Andrew Cuomo, all barbershops, beauty salons, nail salons or other personal hygiene services had to remain closed.
Speaking about this particular case on Thursday, Cuomo said hairstyling is by definition an up-close and personal occupation and so it would be part of phase two of reopening.
NYC contact tracing efforts
Meanwhile, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio says hundreds of people have been trained to begin contact tracing and will start work in the coming days.
New York City will have 1,000 contact tracers by the end of the month, and by the beginning of June they plan to get up to 2,500 trained individuals, according to de Blasio. It would then build as needed to potentially go up to as many as 10,000 tracers.
The effort is being led by NYC Health and Hospitals. The contact tracers will investigate cases, trace and monitor contacts, and manage all case data and inquiries. This would allow the city to immediately isolate and care for those who test positive for the virus, and then rapidly track, assess, and quarantine anyone they came into contact with who they may have infected, according to a NYC Health and Hospitals press release.
The effort is "bigger, more complex and a much greater operational challenge than anything we've seen in the history of contact tracing in this city," the mayor said. The Department of Health and their expertise are being brought in for "maximum impact," he added.
Story originally published on CNN and re-published with permission