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Gyms, salons, barbershops—Are they spreading COVID-19?

Jennifer Lewke
Updated: November 19, 2020 06:11 PM
Created: November 19, 2020 04:44 PM

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — The Yellow Zone in Monroe County could become an Orange Zone any day now. If that happens indoor dining, gyms, hair salons and barbershops would have to close temporarily.

Many of you who own or work at a business that would be impacted say you’ve followed all the state guidelines imposed to keep people safe and feel you’re being unfairly targeted by the state. On Thursday, News10NBC Investigative Reporter Jennifer Lewke brought your concerns straight to Gov. Andrew Cuomo.  

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When part of Monroe County went into a Yellow Zone, schools that had virtually no COVID-19 transmission were forced to start testing students and staff. During the first week of testing, less than 1% of those tests turned up positive. Now, if the zone moves from yellow to orange many small businesses will be forced to close until the transmission rates improve.

Gov. Cuomo has been saying for weeks that the second surge of COVID-19 is being caused primarily by “living-room spread” or small, indoor gatherings.

“So, why then are gyms, hair salons, barbershops who have implemented restrictions under your guidance, forced to close in an Orange Zone? What kind of data do you have that shows that they are contributing to the spread,” News10NBC Investigative Reporter Jennifer Lewke asked the governor on a conference call on Thursday. 

“The sources that have been identified nationwide for the increase by the CDC, by HHS and which every state government acts on: indoor dining, every state when they close down what do they close? They close indoor dining, gyms, personal services, hair salons… The gyms, the hair salons, every national health agency has identified them,” Gov. Cuomo answered.  

Perhaps the National health agencies but locally, the exact opposite is true.

Jennifer Lewke (News10NBC): "Through your contact tracing Dr. Mendoza, do you have any evidence that any of our COVID-19 spread is coming from gyms, hair salons or barbershops?"

Dr. Michael Mendoza (Monroe County Health Commissioner): "So, gyms, hair salons and barbershops are not among the types of businesses that we're worried about.  As we look to the most safe places in our community, barbershops, hair salons, gyms, fitness centers and schools really are in the top in terms of the most safe in my view."

When reporters are called on to ask the governor a question during these conference calls, they do not get the opportunity to follow-up after he answers.

Monroe County Executive Adam Bello said on Thursday that he believed his office would get a day or two “heads-up” if the Yellow Zone was going to be bumped up to orange and he had yet to get a call from the governor’s office. 


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