Unlike my normal posts – this one is mostly my opinions and thoughts on how businesses are reopening in Texas and Georgia. Texas and Georgia Hair Salons Opening: Would you go?
Overall, let me say that I am for reopening businesses as soon as it is safe enough to do so and I try to make data driven decisions. Several states including Georgia and Texas have allowed the reopening of some businesses. However, the list of businesses seems odd to me. Why are hair salons, tattoo parlors, bowling alleys, massage parlors and gyms among the first businesses to be allowed to reopen?
It seems peculiar to me that after weeks of hearing we will follow the data, that these businesses are opening with essentially with no specific data and no plan to actually collect the specific data. I’m for opening business but I prefer it be done in a manner where there are not so many risk factors and so few answers. For instance, with all the testing that has been done (over 4 million and counting) has any gym or massage parlor ever been a source of an outbreak? If the answer is no, that would be good to know. If the answer is yes, then why open them now?
It seems odd to open these businesses for two reasons. First, in three of the businesses, hair salons, massage parlors and tattoos, it seems impossible to maintain 6’ of social distancing while conducting business. In fact, the customer is likely to spend most of their time within 6’ of business staff. I can imagine how bowling alleys and gyms may be able to maintain social distances, but both of these businesses involve a lot of touching of surfaces by the clients (bowling balls, bowling shoes, score sheets, weights, pull up bars, bikes, rowing machines etc.) Each of these surfaces would have to be disinfected after every use – will this be done? Is it even practical
The second oddity about these businesses is that there are not a lot employees involved. Texas has 28000 people that work in hair salons and George has less than 10,000. With respective population of 29 million and 10.6 million, this will help a small fraction of the unemployed, but hardly a significant contribution. Similarly, there were just over 6900 registered masseuses in Texas and only 2700 in Georgia.
There are around 2500 health clubs in Texas with a membership of over 5.3 million. However, it is not clear how often these people go. However, 5 million people is a significant number. If the early antibody testing holds up under further investigation, somewhere between 4 and 14% of the 5 million people were or are infected with Covid 19…that makes roughly 200,000-700,000 gym members who have had or have Covid 19. Actual Number of Los Angeles Infections: over 400,000
I could not find any statistics about the number of bowling alleys but in my own county of 1 million residents, I believe that there are two bowling alleys. I know it’s not Texas or Georgia but I find it hard to believe (no criticism intended for people who work in bowling alleys) opening bowling alleys is not going help unemployment numbers much.
Some have called this a social experiment, but it’s not being conducted like an experiment. In an experiment, you have a question you are trying to answer and you have measurements that you will make to get an answer. I have not heard of any additional testing or tracking that is going on with these openings and comparisons to the people who use these businesses and those that don’t..
If this was truly and experiment:
Because of the built-in lack of social distancing, workers should be tested for Covid 19 and the antibody before they can start work. Workers should be continued to be checked every 5 days to make sure they have not picked up the infection.
Customers should also closely be tracked. Preferably the customers would also be tested for Covid 19 5 days after the appointment (or work out, or tattoo) to see if they have the antibody indicative of infection. If there is an outbreak somewhere, it would be good to know if there was a hair salon or gym that was the epicenter (like the church in Korea). South Korea: Covid 19 Containment vs Privacy
If after this testing, the Covid 19 does not seem to spreading, then I’ll be ok with it.
I am not OK with opening these businesses that do not put very many people back to work but can increase the exposure to Covid 19 especially if they aren’t going to follow what happens.
It seems there’s a lot of other types of businesses that could be reopened (with guidelines) that would benefit larger number of people as both employees and customers.
The good news is that over 80% of the people who get infected will have no or minor symptoms and the fatality rate is overall getting lower, but at risk groups should remain very vigilant.
I am hopeful that the opening of these businesses will be successful. However, I wish I had more confidence in that wish. The results from the first openings will have a large impact on how reopening other businesses will be conducted.