COVID-19 Community Spread Didn't Start in a Nail Salon: Salon Owners

Industry Group ‘Nailing it for America’ says state officials apologized to them on a private conference call for the Gov Newsom’s comments singling out nail salons.

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Nail salon owners tell the NBC Bay Area Investigative Unit the governor’s office is quietly backtracking from Gov. Gavin Newsom’s prior assertion that the first case of COVID-19 community spread started in a nail salon.

In May, Governor Newsom enraged business owners when he revealed the first known case of a California resident contracting COVID-19 without leaving the country occurred at a nail salon. However, the Governor did not provide any additional details about the case, citing privacy concerns. Salon owners feared the Governor’s comments would scare away customers, further injuring an already wounded industry, that’s largely owned by minority individuals.

State officials on Tuesday conducted a private conference call to discuss reopening guidelines with salon owners and members of Nailing it for America, an industry association.

Members of Nailing it for America tell NBC Bay Area they learned during Tuesday’s call the state no longer believes community spread started at a nail salon and apologized for the Governor’s remarks.

On Friday, NBC Bay Area and a few other media organizations asked the governor whether he still believes community spread started at a nail salon, but he did not answer directly, instead choosing to address when salons can reopen.

“We’re looking forward to putting out additional guidelines today that should put further clarification on the next iteration opportunities for counties to continue a phased reopening,” Newsom said.

Linda Do owns Blossom Nail Spa in Campbell. Do says she also heard a state official say on that call Tuesday that community spread did not start in a nail salon, but she would prefer to move forward and look towards how the industry can recover.

“Our focus with my community is to reopen nail salons,” Do told NBC Bay Area. “I’m working with the county of Santa Clara on safety measures, giving them details what we should do, how we should do it, and how we should keep COVID-19 in mind to stop community spread.”

When Blossom Nail Spa reopens, Do says she will only accept customers by appointment to reduce crowding and is in the process of adding more face shields to protect customers.

The state’s health officer announced Friday that schools, gyms, bars and pro sports can open next week in select counties, but not nail salons will remain closed.

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