To owners of spas, franchises, chiropractic offices. High-volume massage therapy settings. You in Georgia, Florida, Oklahoma and so many other states allowing re-opening:
Employers, much has been made of your efforts to step up your safety protocols and get ready for re-opening.
On the face of it, your efforts are admirable. You have devised cloth PPE, and swapped leads on EPA-registered disinfectants. You have added time between clients for your therapists to wipe down the room. You’ve stepped up contactless payment, and some of you have installed arrays of Plexiglas in the reception area.
All for the Grand Re-Opening of 2020.
For guidance, you have consulted the CDC, OSHA, other professions, your governors, massage therapy professional associations, and boards. Some of you have hired consultants. You have processed a dizzying amount of information.
I’ve read a lot of it. Much of it seems earnest and thoughtful. An attempt to protect your staff and the public while re-opening.
You’ve left out only one thing.
You cannot really protect your staff and the public while re-opening.
Not now, anyway. All of the cloth, paper, products, clothing changes, intake questions, turnaround time, and Plexiglas cannot and will not protect them.
Deep down, I think you know this.
You know this.
Proof: You set up contactless payment, right?
Because contact is not safe.
You know this situation reads like a Saturday Night Live cold open? It is parody.
Denial is a fine thing, but it takes some mental gymnastics sometimes: “Maybe contact is safe! Sort of safe. Some contact is safe…as long as other people do it.”
Many meetings later, voila! We can make contact safe. In our contact-free formula, each therapist will:
• Make contact, while standing a foot or so away from a client
• Place hands right on the skin—as in, can’t even slide a credit card between the therapist’s hand and the client’s skin (so much for contactless payment.)
• For an hour
• With a mask that, when worn perfectly, is only partially effective
• While remembering not to touch anything—except the client—after handwashing/gloving.
All in the same small airspace. A therapist, a client, and a highly contagious virus.
What could go wrong?
You cannot operate at volume, while fully protecting your staff or the public.
The word is out. In the groups, on the webs. Some self-employed massage therapists are making those lists, too, itching to come back. Gloves, check. Masks, check. Bleach, check.
But many other MTs are confused and terrified. Clients, too: The majority of Americans want to continue our current measures for a while, until it’s safer. Until we know more.
I’ve seen all these opinions out there, but I’ve missed hearing from you. You’re not out there making statements about really protecting people. If you are, you’re not amplifying them.
Real protection would look like this:
• Form coalitions of employers (e.g., whole franchise chains, or all the franchises in a certain state, or within spa organizations)
• Take the position that massage therapy cannot be done safely and sustainably right now, just a few months into a pandemic and a poorly understood disease;
• Remain closed, so that employees can continue to collect unemployment benefits;
• Advocate for those benefits. Advocate for public safety. Be vocal: Put direct pressure on governors to carry out contact tracing, testing, and isolation. Insist they allow close-contact workers access to relief and stay closed until infections drop and PPE is widely available;
• Hold press conferences and town halls. Write op-eds. Dominate media and social media;
• Ask why governors’ mansions, courts, and government buildings are not open for tours/business, while bowling alleys, restaurants, and your close-contact businesses are opening.
The following behaviors are not real protection:
• Working without a clear understanding of treatment room/building ventilation, and what that means for virus transmission;
• Offering massage without an understanding of COVID’s clotting risks, how stroke presents early in younger people (newly identified complications of COVID), and whether it’s even possible to manage that risk in massage therapy;
• Assuming that we can effectively screen for COVID by taking temperatures (Remember: In asymptomatic people, absence of fever doesn’t indicate absence of infection);
• Providing sub-optimal PPE and disinfecting products;
• Opening while testing, tracing, and isolation are inadequate;
• Opening before infections have declined;
• “Learning as we go” – trying to employ conflicting, confusing messages about infection control protocols;
• Adding just 15 minutes between clients for infection steps that may require 20-25+ minutes on a good day. (I am hopeful that you plan to pay them for the additional time that this will take.)
You have an opportunity to protect people.
Instead, you’re rushing to re-open.
The bottom line: It is not yet safe to return. The preponderance of public health opinion tells us that. We are still learning some of the basics about this virus. Our first death occurred just 9 weeks ago.
In the absence of benchmarks and information, governors who reopen are trivializing human life and safety. It is a social experiment—their experiment.
It is an outrage.
During an outrage, your best approach is to be outraged. Instead, you’re focused on masks, disinfection, turnaround times, client communication. All important for seeing clients.
All when it is too early to see clients.
Please push back.
Refuse to supply the subjects for this experiment.
Support the safety and safety nets of your MTs. Coordinate a vocal, organized refusal to re-open prematurely.
Lobby on behalf of massage therapists.
They have no union and little bargaining power. They have been abandoned by some of our key leadership. They have been pummeled with conflicting information.
I’ve listened to employers and read some of that information. I think, it all sounds so reasonable. These are reasonable efforts, from good people who want to get people back to work just as much as their people want to work. Everyone wants to reassure. One colleague I admire—a franchise owner—reported on re-opening conversations among her peers and other leaders. Plenty of plans, protocols, and supplies.
When I asked, she reported not one conversation about the possibility of delaying re-opening. Nothing about putting on the brakes a bit, until more information comes in. Nothing about holding off until benchmarks are met.
No sense that a more reasonable approach would be to wait. Wait until it is clear how to navigate business with a brand new, highly contagious, deadly disease.
Your workers are your livelihood.
You can’t prosper without them.
Now, they will hole up in your treatment rooms with your clients and guests, playing roulette at close range. You will have tried to do your best, but they’ll still be unprotected.
There’s still time to step out of the rush. If your state chooses not to care for your workers, you still can! Stop going along with the state, pretending contact is not contact and close contact is safe. Be that Plexiglas, for real. Shield your workers from loss of unemployment benefits. Agitate for relief.
Be the employer your massage therapists want to return to. Be the employer they trust with their safety.
It is tempting to return to normal.
This is America, the land of resourcefulness. Staggered schedules, clients waiting in the car instead of the waiting room. An intake from 6 feet away, cleanable covers over everything.
These measures might prevent most infections, but minor errors in infection control could be deadly.
Do you really want to experiment, a few weeks into an unprecedented pandemic?
For now, we are not ready.
Scientists after scientist has given us the requirements: that safe re-opening is conditioned on extensive testing, contact tracing, and isolation of infected individuals. Public health has not wavered on this point, yet it has not taken effect in any state. Not one.
Your governor’s willingness to sidestep these norms is a willingness to light up in a dry forest, just miles from fires already raging. On April 2, just 4 weeks ago, one governor claimed he had just learned the virus could be transmitted by someone who was asymptomatic. Everyone else had known that for weeks.
Yet the same governor continues to ignore public health experts, and is willing to play fast-and-loose with your business, your workers, your clients, and your guests.
I really appreciate the attempts from all of you managing the spa and franchise industries, but no amount of your good faith effort can counteract that kind of recklessness.
And the heartbreak?
I don’t claim to speak for all massage therapists, but I’ve listened to thousands of them over 30 years in the field. Most earn modest incomes. Little safety net, hardly any vacation. Occasional health insurance. Paycheck to paycheck. Massage therapy may be satisfying work, but our numbers have been dropping for years.
Now the lease is up. Some are closing permanently, retiring early, retraining. Social media is filling with sad, empty offices.
The results of this experiment will be more sadness and emptiness. We’ll lose MTs to further disengagement from the field. If public health experts predict correctly, we’ll lose more to illness and even death. Our numbers are heading fiercely in that direction.
As for the kind, compassionate, skilled people left standing in the profession? If you want a future with them, help them through this.
Otherwise, it’s just a show.
Charisse Corsano says
Excellent. You’ve covered all the areas of concern and some.
Thank you for your time & efforts, courage, caring & professionalism for looking out for our professionals.
May you & all stay & be well.
Well said? She admits she only read part or some material that others published about why it is safe to open.
Everyone has a right to do what is best for them. Spreading this misinformation is not doing anyone any good. This is her opinion people. Testing is already in place with more than enough kits. You actually have to do research in your area.
This is part of the reason MT’s aren’t taken seriously by other field’s.
Thanks for the opinion piece, but I’ll go with the facts and not scare tactics.
Tracy Walton says
Not enough tests. Not one state has done enough testing, tracing, or isolation to say this.
Well written but unfortunately because the 5 largest Massage organizations will not step up and voice this concern because they never have the spine to stick their necks out. We are looking at the money and cries for money to open these spas, offices and clinics up. Faster then it is really safe to do.
AMTA, ABMP , NCTMB, FSMTB and the AFTME have all their members/ insurers money yet do not advocate strongly during this time.
They need to be voicing clearing!! They should be requesting a pause for our industry/ profession til we get the clear understanding of what would be safe for clients, therapist and business.
They already have the direct contacts with legislators to help guild them.
I agree that the AMTA, ABMP , NCTMB, FSMTB and the AFTME
should be working together cohesively. Leadership is needed.
A new model is required now. Advocating, nationally for a more therapeutic clinical approach to massage therapy with additional training for the industry so it can safely sustain itself especially since the virus is not leaving.
Erica Gray says
I am so very disappointed in the trade associations for not standing up for us.
What’s even more insulting is the liability insurance they all offer us, will not cover us for Covid19.
And if you are in a state like me, liability waivers are generally unenforceable in Virginia.
Thank you Tracy for writing this. It’s what my gut has been telling me…. this is a bad idea.
Not enough testing and many states skewing their numbers.
Yesterday at the presidential briefing, Dr. Birx said the 2 states at the top the list for increasing positive numbers were MD and VA. Our governor opened the beach this weekend and was even spotted not practicing social distancing and without a mask. The beach and streets were packed tonight.
What’s beyond unconscionable is our nursing homes, one of which made national news because of the number positive cases and the number of deaths, still lacks testing and PPE.
I have been seeing my clients for a decade and they are like family. Many of have preexisting conditions and they trust me not to put them in harms way. It’s the reason they understand why I am waiting.
it was on the news tonight that 2 different hair dressers test positive.https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/may/23/missouri-hair-stylist-coronavirus-exposureinfected
I’m waiting for the dust to settle.
You’re right the massage associations have done nothing to pause this rush to reopen.
Susan ahlquist says
I totally agree with you. We need more time our profession needs more time to evaluate and plan.
I am a MT, and I work in a office building; renting room. I started back last Monday, working on several clients, and yes, I spread these sessions out. Out of the 3 client 2 had no problem wearing a mask, and one did. The horrific truth of Covid is the refusal, and or denial of the Virus. In this building, other Therapist work. Following protocols in common areas; entrance, bathrooms, ect I, and others have agreed that Masks and hand washing, and deep cleaning everyday after clients as well is of great important’s. In our office we have a therapist that refuses to wear a mask, nor follow the protocol in her business. Putting everyone at risk. The good news is that she will be moving in July. However, I am stressed, frustrated, and I each day feel that going back to work (massage) I am carrying a battle ax on my shoulder. I appreciate what you have said, I truly feel like Massage Therapist shouldn’t feel like they are overreacting if they fear getting, and passing along Covid-19. We still are not 100% safe from Covid.
Chris May says
This virus may be highly contagious but it also has a 99.986% survivability rate. Take precautions for the elderly and the chronically ill. Stop spreading misinformation.
So what about people21-64…no consideration for them huh just send them back to work and watch them suffer for weeks or die before there is a vaccine that could possibly save their life….sad sad sad people
I’m in the high risk category as a 70 year old massage therapist with asthma. I have been working full time as an independent contractor in a large resort hotel and spa on Maui, Hawaii for the last 24 years. Most of the clientele are tourists visiting from all over the nation and from around the world. Our spa director just sent us an update that the spa may try to begin opening in early June (just a couple of weeks from now) offering services to the local community, as the hotel itself is still closed as are most the hotels and all short term vacation rentals on the island. I do not know how soon the hotel itself will open and when we will begin with massage services to those arriving from around the country and around the world. I absolutely do not feel safe going back to work as a massage therapist at this time in the pandemic. There is no way to do massage and keep social distancing, and we’re enclosed in a small room with our client, hands on their body for anywhere from 50 to 110 minutes per session times however many clients we have per shift. Right now we are receiving unemployment benefits (my first time in 54 years in the work force). If they open up and I do not return to work I will lose the unemployment benefits and perhaps my job. I do need to continue working to make ends meet. We’ve just gone from “stay at home” orders to “safer at home” and we are required to maintain social distancing and wear a face mask whenever outside our homes. I cannot hug my daughter or grand kids, cannot go in their home nor they in mine, can only see each other occasionally outside while social distancing, and yet I may be asked to return to work doing hands on massage in just a couple weeks or so. Makes no sense to me, and I definitely do not feel safe.
As a resort massage therapist for over 30 years who has asthma I can totally empathize. We opened last week and every client was from NY, CA or TX. They do not take the guests temperature and most just got off a plane. We were told not to wear gloves but that wouldn’t help anyway because we use use our forearms and elbows. Everyone wants DEEP tissue which we get an extra $8 for but wants to only pay for Swedish because our prices are so high. They comp the service if a guests says they didn’t get enough pressure. The spa director has never been a therapist and bought the mpst toxic cleaner to clean with for 30 minutes between guests . I really feel compassion for the membership slave therapists who have to deal with the greedy owners.
Audrey Waldrop says
There is no misinformation here! Yes it’s an opinion, but a well informed opinion. That’s the most we have as an industry right now and its not enough! You are correct. It is very survivable. But we don’t know why some people don’t survive. It’s not just the elderly. We don’t know enough. It’s too soon.
A Parker says
The truth is that healthy people are dying , too. You should do more research. Your argument is old and proven incorrect. Also, for the people who survive, it is a very long road back to health. There are people who do not feel better for months after covid, have longstanding health issues like reduced lung capacity, and bone-chilling stories of thinking they would die…not once but several times. Those are the “moderate” cases, aka too healthy to go to the hospital. Those people sat at home waiting to live or die. Weeks of not knowing what the outcome will be for them. Now, the babies and children are getting sick and some of them are dying. Sorry if I sound rude when I correct you, but you are wrong and there are a lot of people who do not like the reality of this illness. We have no idea how to cure or cope with it. I have no problem with states opening up, but having people together in a closed room is dangerous.
You have not had the virus touch your family. Ny healthy young friend ended up in ICU on a ventilator for 50 days. He lived but he left the hospital half the man he was and when he did wake he watched people “dropping like flies” dead all around him. Including young people. Take your chance but dont make the rest of us. I dont want to be a guinea pig for the government or a statistic but a I am pleased that we have plenty of volunteers like yourself to go out and test the water for us. Thank you
That is factually incorrect. Confirmed cases in my area are holding at ~4.7% fatality rate, per public health data. It isn’t only impacting old, or those with preexisting co-morbidities.
Jeanne C says
Those who survive also experience long term side effects such as diminished lung capacity, kidney damage that could lead to long term dialysis, PTSD, and other poor organ function, including brain function. Theres so much we still don’t know about this virus. It’s our responsibility to take precautions for everyone, not just the sick and elderly.
Not true. As of 8/12/2020, per Google’s Covid-19 alert, 167,000 people in the US have died of the virus, out of 5.26 million. That’s 3.17% death rate, which doesn’t account for the cases of people who survive but are left with chronic debilitating issues involving clotting that can affect multiple organ systems, especially heart, lungs and kidneys. You’re the one spreading disinformation with your cavalier approach and botched statistics.
A Parker says
Sadly, the testing only has a 70% accuracy rate, so 30% of negative tests results are a false negative. This is a fact. Antibody testing is also inaccurate. There are reports that there are more than 30 strains. It is a fact that opening up massage too quickly will be dangerous. Is it too early? It sure looks that way when you look at the CDC guidelines, that say we continue social distancing. Why in the world is it ok to touch someone when social distancing is in order? And then there is needlessly taking PPE from others. Mexico has no PPE now. That is a fact. Health care providers get sick with direct work in the ER, and they have PPE on. That is a fact. You can dislike the writers op-ed (yes it is an opinion piece), however it is backed up by many facts about how covid is too dangerous for massage right now. These are not just feelings, they are very real concerns that I think any sensible person would find justified. Many LMTs feel this way.
Robin Commerford says
Thank you for stating the facts so clearly. I agree with you a 100%.
I agree 100%
I have only just read this letter. And Tracy said out loud all my fears. Why do I have clients craving to lay on my table? Why are they not scared? Our area here has had so few numbers. But we all know this can change in a heartbeat.
I am bery scared.
A month ago our governor placed massage therapists in phase six plan which is POST PANDEMIC, that made sense.
How can we fight this.
OMG! I agree! Strange huh, I had clients begging practically 4 weeks ago to come in, and do house calls. Of course I turned down, heck I was turning down potential new clients in April; even a girl that was pregnant. I think this is crazy, I started back monday. I work for myself, and still, I am in so much fear, and feel I should already pull back and cancel appointments that have been booked. This is crazy. Massage isn’t suppose to make you feel anxiety, or stressed out. This is bizarre that Newson has given us the ok to go back with Covid cases rising as they are, again. “social distancing how? when we hang over a table for 90 minutes. Im done
Magenta b Greenwood says
how much is enough testing? every time POTUS ups the figure the control anti opening people say not enough so how much is enouigh really, please?
What is testing going to solve , NOTHING
What has it solved nothing ,
The media has lied the local Governments have lied about the number of sick and or dead
Massages are coming through on Long Island. I refuse to go back. I recently got over COVID but there’s no confirmed information that your body creates antibodies. against it. You’re spot on with your article. Would you ever consider advocating with us. You’re name is known and people will have greater respect for that.
Tracy Walton says
Avril: I hope you are feeling much better! I consider this writing advocacy so I hope it helps. I hope you join the massage therapy and covid group on Facebook. A great place of support.
michael andrew frazier says
Just from your anger evidenced here it’s pretty obvious that the issue of mixed messages and unclear risk management/assessment is still our biggest issue as a nation and as MT’s. Amidst any lack of professional consensus it’s unwise to set about forging forward; a fact that would apply as much to a soda company as to our field. I’m sure you’ll agree.
Where are you that there are enough test kits to go around? Yes, know your area; there are certainly not enough kits here in Socal, and this is why we should wait until we have a better idea of what the real numbers are that we are dealing with.
These are not scare tactics, these are prudent words; as is said: an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. I’ve been a therapist since 1984, there is no need to push the river, we will be working again in time.
A. Warren says
Take a Micobiology course. The facts from Korean world renown virologist…coughing spray can put the virus into aerosol spray form that remains floating and can go the distance of 20 feet. They do not allow testing for Asymptomatic in my state. You have magical thinking. So let’s break it down for you. Carriers bring it into environments and expose those of low immune. $20 is not the value of my life or those of my awesome co-workers. Use this time to go to medical sites and educate yourself about the people who live day to day with illness and stop being so ill informed yourself. Many teachers are educated and yet still disrespected by the masses. Some of us carry multiple illnesses and some carry Ignorance, Arrogance and Disrespect are an illness of a whole different form. Self medicate by educating your mind not your opinion.
J. Amato says
Well said A, Warren!!!
Bravo A. Warren!
You really haven’t Listened to the facts! We don’t have enough testing? Have you been tested? NO!
Every this she said is on the money !
You can’t be in this business or you would not say that!
Hope you stay safe!
Not one state is doing sufficient test and trace. Not one. And not everyone has the money to get tested even if they can find a place to get tested. “Everyone has the right to do what is best for them.” That simply isn’t true. If what’s best for me is to punch you in the nose, I don’t have the right to do that. You don’t have the right to harm your clients simply because you have the “opinion” that facts don’t matter. Exactly what “facts” are you pointing to that say it’s safe to do massage right now?
Misinformation? You were obviously not reading scientific articles and only listening to media & politicians. You sound like you may be an owner not a therapist.
My goodness. All the top scientists and doctors are telling us it isn’t safe. What do you mean , “Look at the other side?” There is no other side. Millions are dying because our government won’t provide testing, contact tracing, and PPEs. Our country, which is supposed to be THE world leader can’t even supply PPEs to its doctors and nurses. What kind of a country allows a foreign invader to ravage certain parts of it, ie all the individual states, without stepping in to defend them? What kind of country forces it’s states to fight each other for the materials to defend their own citizens, ie governors having to outbid each other only to have the Feds seize the materials upon arrival? It’s a country that cares only for the ones who sit behind a desk and wait for others to do the real work. It’s a country that cares only for those collecting gross amounts of profits without concern for those having to make the choice: Possibly die or feed my family.
Jay clarke says
Not to be insensitive over loss of life ,but,By may 27th, ‘millions ‘had not died.in this country, or the world.Please leave out emotions and stay w Acknowledged facts emanating from places like Johns Hopkins U , CDC ,and world respected fact gatherers.
Youarguments that maybe lose credibility when you throw fake numbers around do to your emotional integer. As of May 27 US deaths were less than 100000….yes terrible but hardly in the millions.As of 8 7 20 worldwide deaths 700000 plus. Still not one million.Please shred the hyperbole.
Dina Gosse says
I haven’t been able to be tested. How about you?
I have been tested, and a previous poster is right: you can’t get tested without symptoms.
You must have the right combination of symptoms. I was having difficulty breathing to the point that I felt concerned enough to ask my husband to take me to the ER.
We ended up calling a doctor through United Healthcare, my husband’s work insurer. I felt I was on a game show while somewhat panicked over not being able to breathe. OH! I’m sorry, but those symptoms don’t sound EXACTLY like Covid. I was told to drink some water and offered a prescription for an inhaler.
When my breathing didn’t improve with the inhaler, I called my primary care doctor through a virtual visit. She was the one who authorized my test and only because I had developed additionally a slight burning sensation near my sternum. At the testing sight, you must be checked in by giving the name of the doctor who sent you. So you understand, this was not a simple process. For instance, my aging parents would not have been able to go through what I went through. They are not computer savvy. Someone without a doctor or insurance would have no choice but to go to an emergency room, exactly where people were being discouraged from going.
It was ludicrous. At one point I asked the United Healthcare doctor what the standard for dire was when it came to breathing difficulty. He said, “When you can’t finish a complete sentence.”
I was horrified by the entire ordeal. I tested negative and was treated instead for a bronchial infection. I consider myself lucky.
So at what stage is safe for a massage therapist back to work
What phase can a massage therapist go to work
Depends on who you are and what state you live in. If you are self-employed with no employees you could have stayed working in NY state! Based on the very 1st exception rule in the NYS Office of Professions website. We must remember to look at the guidance from who allows us to work in respective states. This exception I believe was made in response to the fact that many LMT’s and other professions where you are the sole proprietor would be devastated by such rules. Remember everything is based on making sure 10 people or less rule… So you and one client is only 2 people. Or course, extra precautions, limiting #of clients seen, and spacing at least 30 minutes between each is the best way to limit any potential exposure…
We must not allow politics to interfere with our ability to perform our duties… This was politicians that were making rules and not our governing body nor the states that register us to work. We have to remember to gather as much information and make the best decision for ourselves. As for me… When a young lady calls and is in desperate need because of Suicidal Idealization, because of Isolation and is in desperate need of healing touch… I will and have worked under those circumstances… and honestly do not care about those that want to jam down our throats about the dangers of a virus… Her life was worth the risk of contracting a virus that may or may not have been… I have lost friends to suicide… I wasn’t willing to lose a client because of it… Why? Because I love her as a friend and not just a client! As we all should.
Her point is that Spa’s like mine are rushing to reopen, putting ALL of us (clients included – I absolutely can’t guarantee to my clients that I won’t cross contaminate) at a significant risk in an unprecedented situation, so the billionaire owners can get back to making money at our expense, rather than delaying the opening and allowing us to continue to be eligible for benefits. Social justice v. profiteering. Many of us who are returning to work are doing so because our salaries are so paltry to begin with that we don’t have savings to carry us through unforeseen tragedy. Willingness to return to work does not mean we feel safe or ethical in doing so. Not to mention that a spa operating at 25% capacity will not be enough clientele to support a living wage. Yet, with the option if returning to work, we lose our benefits. She’s simply questioning why the rush, as a gamble with lives, in a close contact field, where 6ft minimum spacing is standard recommendation.
I hear you, J.
Perhaps the time has come for Massage Therapists to form a either a Guild or a Union to have leverage when dealing with corporate employers.
J. agree with you… in bigger corporations and spas it is vitally important to remain closed. Especially if they are not willing to give you all 30 minutes in between clients!!!
Carrie Lawyer says
Today is July 16th. I’ve worked as an LMT for 19 years. I’ve been receiving pandemic unemployment for weeks and while I was told I would continue to receive payment until the end of the month, this week it just stopped. No one in the state of Ohio can tell me why. That I should wait it out. In the last two weeks I’ve only had 4 clients. My children and I can’t survive on $60 a week. I’m 50 years old and devastated that the job I’ve loved is finished. It’s over. Say goodbye to Massage envy, hand and stone. Our occupation is now a dinosaur that people are afraid of. The massage schools have been closing for years. Now we all have to start over and reinvent ourselves, because the states don’t care.
The truth is awkward isn’t it. And You don’t like the truth because ?
You took an oath to do no harm and there is not enough information given to proceed with a clear conscience. Shame on you for badgering those who err on the side of caution. And what class did you take on the subject to make you an officianado?
Patricia P says
It takes 7 days to get results. 7 days of maybe infecting other because you believe you do not have this Covid 19. Realize that these results are from 7 days ago. If the numbers are going up realize that there is a 7 day gap.
Bingo!!! smh… The only thing I will say that I agree with this opinion is this…
It is a social experiment—their experiment. “A Plandemic!”
these are not scare tactics, if you are an LMT, then you are fooling yourself. If you’re NOT an LMT, what professional health background do YOU have to make such a statement?
Malka Amster says
Thank you so much for this well thought out and well spoken article. I encourage all to keep this on your phone or other devices to refer to. Stay well, be safe
Cecelia Hill says
This is a very good piece. I’m sorry to say I live in Florida. No one in my establishment has received one cent of unemployment. I do have some money in my personal account and am keeping my people in food. Things are really dire. I’ve been looking for a loan to keep them, and myself afloat. Florida’s system is broken and all our governor can do is say they are fixing it. In the meantime rent and mortgages are coming due for the second time with no money.
You should be able to get PUA benefits of $600/week. I applied In March and it’s been a long process, but I was told I’ll receive funds this week. It should be a lump sum.
My state congressman helped me. Contact that office.
LMTs are eligible.
That is not the case in Florida.
Why is Floral da not eligible for federal pandemic unemp. assistance (PUA)?
Patricia P says
Yes you do. You have to apply for it once your thirteen weeks of unemployment are over. You are still entitled to it. No matter what. Go to the web site and click on the pandemic unemployment. You will get it. No job searches needed until July 4th.
Sandra B says
follow up: have you received the lump sum payment?
PUA Max is unemployment benefits paid UP to $450.00/
Additional, stimulus monies paid OF $600.00 per week UNTIL 7/30/2020 only.
thereafter it is just regular unemployment benefits, no $600 additional.
My timeline is the same, and I contacted my state congressman as a last resort after having made 32 calls to the DOL, 4-5 emails down the single online portal for all the. PUA applicants in the state of CT with no response. I can look at an account for myself online that says I’ve been approved for benefits, but I have yet to receive a cent.
Patricia P says
They can not evict you until some time in Sept maybe. Courts are not open. They can not hear eviction cases. Unemployment. Call them or go on the web site. Calling is better they will help you.
Donna Tullius says
Wonderful and enlightening- The state is allowing us to go back May 18th- Im waiting until the initial experiment has past.
Joi Derisma says
Thank you! Thank you!
Paul Youngquist says
Tracy, you’ve put all the pieces down in black and white with laser precision. Our profession once in action again would be on top of the list as one of the single worst services to be engaging in with the threat of a contagion. It will be a gamble if and when I get back to my practice which had it’s best year yet in 2019. Thanks for your public statement.
Amy H says
Of course Ms. Walton speaks the truth, even if MT’s are as anxious to get back to work as everyone else and would rather accuse her of fear mongering It is literally impossible to keep any kind of distance from our massage clients, who are most often vulnerable, medically (and not just the old people!!!!).
Yes, we are all wearing masks, but not N95’s!
I totally agree that we should wait this out for a while. Unfortunately, I live in MA and our governor plans to open massage and day spas in early June. This will be a huge mistake.
We must be smart and we must put into practice the oath we take, DO NO HARM!
Katherine Madden says
Amy? I also live in MA, and I agree with you 100%
We need to join Tracy to ha e a louder voice!
Tracy, can we reach you & join forces?
Tracy Walton says
Katherine: Thanks for asking! To join forces I highly recommend the MT and COVID group on Facebook. https://www.facebook.com/groups/covidandmassage/
Amy Handler says
I am interested in how safe the spas really are, as of August 25, 2020.
My concern is aerosol spread within small, contained spaces without windows, in commercial buildings.
It’s June 10th. I don’t feel anything has changed significantly for the better. Everything Tracy said still holds.
I was called back to work at a day spa. I thought by now I’d be feeling safer. I don’t. I’m declining to return at this time. Leaving a job of 18 yrs. Losing my unemployment benefits. But I don’t see that things are improved. The numbers of cases go up but the ‘curve’ is going down so the Govener and the owner say GO. I don’t get it. I’m out for now. Good luck evrrybody, stay safe!
I am so with you; you are doing the right thing, no matter what it takes for us to get through this!
I agree with you 100%. I’m here in California and we’ll be opening in the next few weeks. I definitely feel unsafe about the rush reopening too. How can we raise awareness in the community to stall the reopen? My grandma lives next door I interact with her daily and it doesn’t feel right to start going to work just yet. How is the economy more important than human lives? Smh I appreciate your article and happy that others share common sense.
After 1 week of re-opening a massage therapist was infected with Covid-19 and dozens exposed at my former workplace. They followed all protocols, wore masks, face shields, all guidelines. This is an outrage that in WA massage opens before stylists.
Very well said. Our mistakes were to trusts our governor and believe that he would the right thing by us . Even when I heard from the grapevines that all major 4 massage franchises united and hired a lobbyist to use the board and massge schools to convince the Governor Murphy it was safe to open. I thought he was a good person, what a mistake. At first I thought it could be just a rumor but my Spa owner admitted to one a coworker but she called a “lawyer” but said exactly that. “The 4 chains hired a lawyer to up reopening”
First protest outside about a very justifiable wrong death he took the opportunity to reopen for huge Corp. but is threatening to sue very small restaurants that said they’ll defy to open with only 25% inside occupancy because it’s not “safe” same for gyms. but Its safe to lock me up in tiny room with poor ventilation for 1 hours. No fans btw so probably a 80-90F inside.
And sad to say the majority of chain owns did not do any research other then how to clean better. Ne even that my boss said to me that the extra 15 min to clean probably won’t happen for much longer because we are losing money and other spas already dropped that.
We are in NJ the second most contaminated state with numbers sometimes 3-5 higher then the rest of the country. Compare us to other states is irresponsible. The jersey shore is packed with tourists no face cover, no social distancing. People standing in line one right behind the other to pick up food in between the table with people eating. 7-11 so packed it has a line on the outside. The local walking policie walking around like nothing is happening. Gov Murphy pretending nothing is going on. Yesterday he said that our numbers are dropping like a rocket. Here’s the latest numbers. 6/16 -277 6/17-358 6/18. 422 thats the same day he said dropping like a rocket. Did I lean math wrong school?
I went for a “reopening” training and it was a chaos first they were supper busy exactly trying to get the spa ready to reopen and the training took 5 min while the owner and the manager had to go and answer a phone call. There were no real protocols what they had decided yesterday with one group was not the same the next day.
The entire time she was telling before opening us she wouldn’t be able to bring all of us back right away so she would ask some volunteer now she’s saying we all have to go back and if we don’t is refusal do work and and will be terminated and or no unemployment. We have people that work over 60 and 1 over 70 with underline conditions and I saw look at her face and basically say not my problem and told her maybe is time to find a new career. At 65 years old, after working for her after a decade.
Esthetician’s will not be reopening because someone somehow with some common sense realized it’s very risky and now they are “investigating” a little more. But the difference is that they are more united and have a better board.
its time for us township trusting the government to keep us safe and get ll of this into social media and the news so we can protect ourselves. I just saw a post from a private therapist in Oklahoma that lost 3 clients this week because they didn’t want to wear a mask because her government didn’t make it mandatory.
I am so glad someone else thinks alike, everything you have mentioned I have been speaking about.
In California there is an owner that makes it very obvious, he does not care about his massage therapists, if you have wrkd for that specific company for over five yrs, he does’nt care, he will lower you pay from the $15 you started from until you quit if you don’t like it, he’s starting new m.t’s @ $12 an HR, WHAT AN INSULT!
and he does’nt acknowledge your accomplishments he does’nt care if you quit especially if you are a therapist that gets paid the max and even then, during a review he deducts $2 to $3 dollars off, every quarter he reviews.
He is re-opening all his facilities and just having employees call therapists to see if they are returning, he never once checked on his employees nor forward an e-mail of concern, IT IS ALL ABOUT MONEY WITH HIM.
It is still risky and scary, there is still alot of people dying, I’m certainly not returning, thank you so much for everything you have mentioned, while reading it, I felt safe and comfortable that there is “you” telling it it like it really is.
Thank you, thank you
Michelle A says
Thank you for being a voice for us.
Oh my gosh, this is too much for me and my massage therapy clinic in fresno. Cant wait till this all blows over.
Linda Lynch, RN, LMT says
I am deeply ashamed to be associated with any member of the massage therapy profession that thinks it is ok to categorically eliminate our profession from its ability to help alleviate human suffering. Basic protocols can reduce the risk of transmission of the Covid 19 virus and some of our most “vulnerable” populations are in need of it the most. I find it ironic that your site promotes training to work with cancer patients on the same page that you deride our profession for wanting to get “back to work”. No one in science or medicine always has all the answers. Science is a process and we all do the best we can to learn and grow with information. Many therapists want to get back to work because our work is meaningful and because being in our profession, one that is in service to others is truly the highest calling.
Theresa Hankins says
This is fantastically written and hits on every single point that we has massage therapists are feeling. It highlights the ethics we take seriously and our concerns for public -as well as our own – safety & protection. It ENCOURAGES us to stand in unison as an industry, from top down in the chain of business – to ensure proper measures are taken… and it highlights to decline of our industry as more people are dropping out. Well worth the read, and 100% worth a share so others in the industry and consumers are educated and aware… and everyone can fight the good fight against this awful virus. Many thanks! Be well.
Patricia Faubert says
Thank you. In total agreement
Excellent , Thank you for caring ! very true ..
Kathy Zibell says
We should all be contacting our governors to complain. In CT they are saying LMTs can return to work when hair and nail salons return, as though our jobs were that similar. At my spa, my employer is planning on us donning gloves and masks to do all types of massages and body treatments. I have contacted my Governor as well as expressed my concern to my boss.
I am from CT and haven’t heard massage would be first face. I contacted many health departments and other agencies and they all told me massages would not be open with hair salons and nails. And in the government website said hair and nails only.
Where did you heard massage would be open in CT?
Indeed, I have yet to see a massage practice open in my area of Fairfield County.
Mary Vaassen says
Vicki Hastings says
Very well said. I hope it will be heard. Our work is not about the money it is always about the healing.
As a healer for over 20 years, I love what I do and so do my clients!
Thank you very much
Allicia Woodhouse says
Truth. Thank you.
Jenna Arnaz says
Well said!!! I am a LMT as well a nurse. All spot on in the article. This virus is unfolding on a daily bases. We don’t know alot about it. We need to understand what WE do KNOW which in reality is very little. Granted all the precautions are great but, it just takes that 1 minimal FATAL error to infect not just us but, our clients as well. All LMT’S need to stand in solidarity to unite as one for OUR protection and our clients. I do understand the financial issues it has done on our industry. As a professional you have to step back and look as well. Is it the almighty dollar or YOUR LIFE! What will happen if you became infected and died? What is the future of your children, spouses and families if something happen to YOU? Their loss the grief they would indur along with not having a mother, spouse, sister, brother, aunt, uncle or grandparents. You get the picture. Do you really want to put that final burden on them? As the article referenced this is an experiment to SEE what will happen. The old saying “let’s throw it against the wall and see if it sticks”. The government is pressured to open the economy back up, people protesting to open the states. How will these people feel with their actions when one of their love ones or THEMSELVES are effective with the Coronavirus. Education is a key but, not full proof of what we do not KNOW. Thank you for the article. Stay safe.
Angie Ward says
You are so right…on top of everything our franchise here in florida said we have to sign a waiver stating we cant sue if we get sick so that could be a deciding factor for many therapist
Roger Richard Fontaine says
as a r.m.t. operating a clinic space within a private fitness centre that usually has 50-100 people milling between equipment I am not thrilled about re-entering that environment with shared breath and contaminated hands. Despite the quasi-effort by members to clean individual equipment after use it is not universal.
As for safety for myself and my clients who come to my room the issue for safety really becomes one of the air supply and circulation. It is not possible to ensure complete safety from Covid19 with a common air supply and ventilation. Short of having haz-mat suits with personal air supplies there cannot be 100% security, not even 75%.
There is no way to calculate the risk.
So am I apprehensive about treating my clients in a public space? yes. Will I be going back to work as soon as health authorities say it’s safe to re-open , yes I will. Although I do have a immune-compromised spouse at home and can’t afford to being Covid 19 home. My wife is more anxious than I am.
Yes exactly. It’s too soon to get back to doing massage. Prolonged contact with someone is a sure way to get infected.
It might work for a chiropractor since it’s 10 minutes at nest, no sheets and no skin to skin contact.
There are too many variables to consider making it impossible to do massage now. Not enough information is known about COVID-19 as there is more than one attain.
I broke not working for nearly two months but I can’t risk coming into contact with an asymptotic person who will invent me. It’s too risky and I don’t want to play Russian roulette from a client lot more than client.
Christine Johnson says
Very well said
Joana R Dizon says
Yes I totally agree!
Please don’t forget the estheticians!!!
Amen! Thank you!
Thank you for again putting to words so clearly and with heart what I have been struggling to articulate over these last several weeks.
Same here. 🙁
Lynora Silverman says
I love your point about contactless payment yet they are on our massage tables and we are throwing a bow in their glutes… these Comments all seem to agree… yet, massage is Re-opening along with everything else and MT’s are right there on the front lines in GA, FL and others that are opening up… I thought massage was in phase 4 or 5 and won’t happen right out the gate. I figure by the time they get to phase 2, we will be looking at a second round of this virus… but nope, massage is opening first thing. So crazy!
Our florida gov had a conference on friday 16may he didnt specifically mention massage so i called tallahassee to find out if it included us… the gentleman said they saw the same press conference…salons barbers and gyms can open but it did not apply to massage…3hrs later my job texted and said we’re opening on monday 18may…talk about confusion
Beth L Alford says
I live in Florida and they just announce we can re-open. But for my boss that won’t be the case….because she NEVER closed this whole time. It’s all about the money for her, and even though she received a small loan, and PUA benefits and unemployment, she continues to keep the doors open. Several attempts to get someone here in Florida to care enough to close her up…she “slipped through the cracks” and still is open. Now that they say we can return, I have so much anxiety about the “unknown” of the spreads, and a-systematic people. I still don’t feel right about going back to work.
Robin Commerford says
I feel for you. The bosses only care about the money. Hopefully you will be safe.
Melanie Eggleston says
Wow! Thank you. I have a private practice and feel a lot of pressure to open as soon as it is legal. I have decided to hold off, but it’s hard when so many other MTs will start back to work again with their fingers crossed that they don’t get it and/or spread it. Your words mean a lot and I appreciate it.
I completely agree with you and am also feeling this exact same way. I also have a very compromised immune system so I’m very worried.
Me too. My office space is in my home. I have 5 other people in this house, two of them elderly. I feel very apprehensive about opening back up at all, let alone any time soon. I have several clients who have been texting me that they want to get in as soon as I re-open.
Susan Ambrose-Romano says
Respectfully read and message received LOUD AND CLEAR! Thank you Tracy.
Amanda Sosbe says
This could not be said any clearer or be more easily understood. Kudos.
Melissa Cope, LMBT NC #4552 says
Thank you Tracy!!! So well done and all of it TRUE.
Taylor Love says
Thank you for taking the time to put everything into words that I’ve been struggling with over the past 6 weeks. I’m a Licensed Massage Therapist working out of Texas and we are currently in Phase 1 of our reopening. It is assumed that massage establishments will be slated to open in Phase 2 on May 18th. I started contacting my state and local reps in Mid March and I haven’t stopped since.
I’m in Texas, too.
I do not want to go back in Phase 2. Really thinking about whether my job is worth my life.
I love my job and my employers, and I just hope they are able to stay paused.
I resonate with this so much. Expecting us to work right now is just not right.
Originally we did not have many cases here in Oregon, and the curve finally began to flatten in mid May. My employer gave us the option to return or wait a while. I said no. Then June 13th she let me know that she was “Officially ” calling me back for July 1. And -at that time- it seemed reasonable. She is awesome and had put as many precautions and safe practices in place as possible.
But than the numbers here started to go up…. and up and up. The daily numbers are now far above what they were in March when we went into lock down. I worked one shift on July 2, and the numbers still went up. I emailed my boss about my concerns requesting more time under the new circumstances. I massage at elbow length, not even arms length, and even the grocery store still has a 6 t rule and plexi-glass in addition to the new mask mandate of July 1.
Now I am evidently on some kind of “voluntary leave” because of the unemployment rules. Now I cannot get unemployment and have no income at all. I miss my work, my calling, but the numbers are still going up. It is not reasonable to expect us to massage at this time, let alone when this article was written. I do not know what I will do. This seems like an impossible choice to have to make: The health of my family or an income…
Linda Dwyer says
Tracy, thank you for this. I, too, am contemplating giving up my practice.
Nancy MacDonald, LMBT says
Thank you, Tracy. It’s heartening to read your wise and thoughtful missive and take in the power of your words. You’re right. And it is difficult and heartbreaking and painful, yet I feel a sense of relief to see these thoughts in writing.
Debbi from Massachusetts says
OH Linda, I am so sorry to hear of this….I know that was a very hard decision for you to come to. But you must do you…However, if you find later on what ever made you come to that decision to leave changes you could always either work for someone or open up a place…So think of it like that..you just taking a hiatus for a bit…
Thank you SO SO much for sending this out there Tracy! It’s what has been needed to be said. Hoping it falls on the right ears and not just on the ears of those of us who already understand that all the best intentions to stop the coronavirus from invading our sacred spaces cannot actually do that. Here’s hoping……
Wendy Marsh says
Tracy-thank you for taking a strong stand with all of us who want to practice safely. It is getting harder to hold the door closed as clients and law-makers lean into us to act unwisely. You words and guidance help!
Thank you for this. It helped me get greater clarity.
Anita Bakke says
Karin Rand says
I’ve been licensed as an MT in MA for over twenty years. Our governor, who has unfortunately been misguided by a few averious large spa and franchise owners; has just announced that we, in MA, should begin massaging again this coming week.
I am totally appalled and horified by this. We are not manicurists or hairdressers. The personal service we provide is of a medical, not esthetic, nature; and necessitates prolonged intimate physical contact in small, poorly ventilated enclosures for prolonged periods of time.. The same precautions, PPE and TIMELINES that apply to medical professionals during physician/dental visits should be requisite for the protection of MTs, as well. In fact, we are with our clients generally far longer than they are with their patients!
I totally concur with everything Tracy Walton has put forth and greatly admire her for doing so.
Thank you Tracy, from the bottom of my heart. I’m sharing this with anyone who will listen. Let’s create unity around this rallying cry!
Leslie Forrester says
Oh, my goodness.
Donna Thomas says
Thank you so much. I am a solo practitioner, not a franchise worker or employee. But this still rings true. I’m getting a lot of pressure from my clients to re-open and they threaten to go to other therapists. Fine – go to them! If they are re-opening this soon, then your safety and health – and their own – is not their top priority!
SARA PITTMAN says
Same here. I have received many inquiries. It does not help that the chiropractor next door does not take the virus seriously and has been sending us clients again. My rural community has a very low count but they also have not tested. My fear is that with folks getting out and about and no testing that there will be a surge. We are waiting
Sara, i live in another state and can tell you my chiropractor takes this virus seriously. I have 2 herniated discs in my spine. I see him every week. His adjustments to my spine is helping to keep me out of surgery.
He said if he only operated for ‘urgent patients,’ I certainly fit in that category.
Massage therapy is a different issue. You have skin-to-skin contact with your patients.
I feel so bad for LMTs, but I do believe we eventually we rid this virus, and your business will be up and running again♡
Jeannine Reins says
Amen! I am getting clients asking me if I am open. At least one caveat is most of my clients are over the age of 65 and that group of individuals is still in the “stay in place” mode until June 12th. That at least takes some of the pressure off, but they still ask and are anxious to get back to having their massages. I also will not work until I have full PPE and see a decline in the death toll.
Kathy Seckler says
Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!!!
Judith Peterson says
I totally agree with this! My background is in healthcare and we talked and talked and talked about infection control. Opening up too soon does not support valid infection control principles. Especially since we have limited knowledge of this virus. My daughter Is self-employed in massage and closed a long time ago and has no plans to reopen anytime soon. I give her a great amount of credit for this decision and wish that our politicians would do likewise!
Veronica Hildebrand says
Thank you for your thoughtful statement. It is helping me put a voice to what I feel is right so I can explain why I am not re-opening any time soon.
Jayne Hoese-Berge says
Nailed it again, Tracy.
I will be back doing massage, when things are better, infections are down, contract tracing is the norm, and vaccines are in development and being implemented. Meanwhile, I am going to advocate for my fellow therapists whom are struggling with same decisions and trying to keep their homes, apartments and family fed. Thank you for the clarity you demonstrate. Our fellow therapists deserve to be protected.
Rachel Swinney says
THANK YOU. My concerns too.
Iliana Bates says
Thank you for this. My husband and I have a private practice and have decided not to open yet. With no income coming in, no unemployment (still waiting after 6 weeks), no SBA and still no stimulus. You’d think we’d rush into opening, but I don’t believe this could be done safely. In our county the numbers continue to rise, difficult finding any PPE products and even the close touch. Even if you’ve known certain clients for a long time, how can you know for sure they are not a carrier? It’s too risky, but at the same time, our funds are growing low and I fear we will be left with no choice unless unemployment starts to kick in. That’s what we are hoping for.
I have contacted our Governor and our District Representatives and our voices are not being heard. How can we change this?
I’m glad though to see that there are many MTs that feel the same.
I’m also a business owner. I just want to let you know that my SBA and PPP came in just the other day, so keep trying!
Lisa Waugh says
What state are you in?
Wendy Keiver-Hewett says
I received my PPP but only enough for 6 weeks, if I stay closed I’m not sure if we will be eligible for more aid. At least I could pay my rent and a few bills. It will come! Good luck, it’s a very difficult financial situation we’re in. Be Strong to your beliefs! We help ppl feel better would stink to have them get sick on our watch.
I don’t feel as though our representatives truly get what we do and are so overwhelmed with the situation they won’t take the time to read what we have written which will leave us struggling financially. We haven’t received the first round of unemployment or stimulus, let alone any future rounds of enemployment to help us in the gap between stay at home orders and return when it is truly safe to do so many months down the line. I have been afraid of this lack of understanding from the beginning of this.
Amelia Mitchell says
Thank you Tracy, as a small business owner with employees I am very cautious about reopening. That said, It feels like I am under pressure from a dozen directions to reopen. This is from someone in an informed state that is truly considering the health concerns before reopening.
This is very helpful, I appreciate that we cannot actually be safe or create enough systems to truly protect everyone and that protection in our industry looks a lot like staying closed right now.
I have been very vocal and will continue to press state and local leadership, as well as my trade organization, to support slowing this down and to help us continue to receive relief.
Thank you for always advocating the most rational and compassionate way.
Sandra S Cochran-Fritz says
Wow yes !!! perfectly said!!! Thank you for taking the time to put every concern into words!
Keep all of us safe by extending business closures until there is a known way to fight this pandemic! Show you care as much about our lives as you do about your money!
Tamar Thomas says
Thank you for your words of wisdom in these unsure times. I agree with you one hundred percent. Your message is so very much appreciated.
Very well said! You put my mind at ease. I have my own practice in Florida & I am the only therapist I am choosing not to open even when the governor give the ok. It seems like a no brainer, it is not safe!
Jeanie G says
I’m curious…What WILL determine when/if u re-open? When will YOU feel it’s safe again?
I think that The Governor won’t really know when it is truly safe for us to reopen. Their decisions to open will be based on finances. I think what she is saying is that it won’t be safe to reopen for a very long time far beyond when governors say it’s okay to reopen.
Brenda R Gregory says
Have you heard anything about a proposed date for being able to do massage in the state of Florida. I can’t find a thing online.
Yes can someone please pass any information onto us in FLORIDA ? It seems we ARE NOT following CDC guidelines and on Mothers Day my boss called me and said we were opening Wednesday May 20th and if we didn’t report to work he would notify FL DEO that we Refused our jobs would not receive any unemployment !benefits?? It’s been 9 weeks since being furloughed and I have not received any penny from FL DEO ( as you see on the news it’s a failed system) BUT MY GREATER CONCERN IS I AM NOT COMFORTABLE AND I DO NOT AGREE . We should be following guidelines to keep people safe including Therapist . What laws are protecting me ? Can you help answer my concerns
Not to mention your employer is not someone I would want to do business with, and work with anymore . I’m so sorry . Shame on them, and they don’t deserve you . . Quit in regards to them not following safety protocols during this time.
Beth L Alford says
They just re-opened massage and tattoo parlors today (unfortunately) In Florida I myself will NOT go back until I AM READY…and I FEEL ITS SAFE. I worry about the asymtematics, Am I one? are they? It’s a scary thing.
No, your not the only one. I also, am very concerned. I’m not scared per say but common scents alone would dictate waiting to resume work for the safety of clients and therapist alike.
The spa where I work as a I.D.C. reopened 5/8. Definitely to soon for our line of work to be resuming.
Julie Jeffery says
Every day for 2 months i have been researching the Virus and this situation. I love science and pathology. I came to the conclusion after ALL my research that it was is absolutley unsafe to re open for business as usual with my Massage Business. I have been in business for many many years. I care about my clients deeply and I want them and myself to be safe. There is no way we( our Profession), can be safe here UNTIL infection rates fall for a sustained period and testing is free to all at our local Rite Aide or CVS. I will not return until I get a negative test over and over and my clients are tested as well NEGATIVE before they come in . They must show me the date of their result as i will w them mine. EVEN THEN the moment after the test is negative we can get the virus………so thank you for this letter. I came to this conclusion before I read this letter and you have re confirmed what my research showed me …so I thank you big time 😉
Jacqueline L Gooding says
This is a great idea. I was wondering how in the world I would ever know I could be safe. When they have tests everywhere I will require proof just as you’ve recommended above. Thank you very much.
The problem is, that you can test safe today, but get it on your way home. Note that The President is being tested daily for this very reason.
This article and in particular, your response is exactly how I have acted in researching this disease and I feel. Thank you! . It helps me feel not as alone in going through this, and strong in my conviction as my clients express their disappointment.
Matthew J Olds says
Tracy, Probably one of the best things that I have read. While here in Massachusetts there is no rush from Governor Charlie Baker’s to open anything, I’m just wondering if you have thought of sending a copy to this to the Reopening committee that he has set up? I think it would be a great idea. Sincerely, Matthew Olds, LMT.
Margie Arrison says
Tracy, I just read Mathew Olds’ comment, and I think he has a wonderful idea. I also am hoping you will send a copy of your message, as Matthew suggested, to the Reopening Committee (and maybe to Gov Baker himself!) Your text is eloquent…clear and to the point! I think there is a good chance the Governor will take it to heart!
Thank you Mathew for your comment!
Tracy Walton says
Hi Margie! I remember you! I did send something to the RAB but it was a different version than this. This was aimed at employers. Thanks for the support!
Hi tracy thanks for being a voice for many of us therapist. I agree…if you can send this to the governor of florida ron desantis and even the florida board of massage it may help(all governors and state massage offices) THANKYOU AGAIN
Franci Knight says
Thank you. I will share widely!
Christina Waterson says
Great! More guilt-work at it’s finest.
i dont understand your response. do you find the information not true?
kimberly koontz says
I appreciate the letter, its very boldly stated being aimed at the owners of the businesses, and not ready to share with my employer quite yet, but fortunately, she has decided to wait to open, until all of the COVID crisis protocols are something she can wrap her head around and manage so we can be safer.
The WSMTA letter sent out on the 29th of may is a must read, well that’s Washington, but very helpful guidelines for ALL.
This is what actually helped her make the decision to hold off on opening for massage in the near future, (she already had massages scheduled for next week, )
I highly recommend LMT’s share with their employers! (The guidelines for PPE and sanitation from WSMTA.)
Give them something to reconsider, and/or maybe this letter if they are comfortable with that. Not saying your letter is wrong or disrespectful, just may be interpreted in different ways. showing the facts, without the emotions as stated in your letter, may work more for some when reading and/or sharing with employer, ie. WSMTA protocols .
Thanks for posting!
Hi Kim, writing from Canada. Would you be willing to share WSMTA info with me? I would be grateful!
OMG finally someone I agree with!!! After 27 years a massage therapist. I am going to have to be done. It is not safe. I have environmental Illness and am allergic to all the cleaning products to use to sanitized. I am 61 and have lung scars from a previous illness. I am terrified and petrified, words I have never used before in my life. I am grateful to KY gov for some Unemployment as I have been self employed all these years. But, I think he wants us to open on 5/25/2020! You are so right , IT IS NOT SAFE. Your partner in wellness PAMI.
Pam Soule says
Dear PAMI in KY,
This is Pam (Soule) in NM. I have been planning to retire (25 years) this September 1st. (I am also 61).
But this is taking the stuff out of me.
I understand. And support you.
BTW, I adore Tracy Walton. She is very knowledgeable and has been my specialty massage Guru!
Best to you PAMI
John Sefcik says
Thank you so much for having the guts to tell it like it is instead of sugar coating just to make a few dollars!
Great comment to Tracy!!
Thank you Tracy. I don’t think you left a stone unturned. Very clearly written & with all heart felt concern for our clients as well as the therapist.
Heather L says
completely agree and exactly what i have been saying. there is no safe right now. this isnt the flu, this isnt a basic illness we have heard immunity to it is something new and deadly to our most medically frail of people. well spoken and said.
OMG this is the first truly sane thing I have seen written about this! I would also add that our states and nationals should be suspending requirements !!!!until this is over! That would be one really great way they could support us!!! I am not in any rush to open my office I have been closed since march third ! If the state tells us we can open I am no planing to do so and I do worry that by pushing to open those that need unemployment will not have grounds for it …in the end my clients will know I truly care about their well being as well as my own
Regina Dick-Endrizzi says
Thank you. If the massage therapy business is “not ready”, what is “ready”? What are the markers or indicators that need to be in place to determine it is safe for the practitioner to return to doing massage.
Dana Jackson says
*Standing Ovation and claps happily *
Yes yes and yes!!!! Completely agree on ALLL aspects. Beautifully crafted with words from alll of our hearts as MT’s.Thank you for saying it all!! I pray that some will take heed. Stay strong, stay healthy!!
Ruth Werner says
Thank you Tracy, for all you do. This is BRAVE.
Shy Davis says
I’m crying. I’m literally crying. I’ve been screaming the minute they began discussing reopening, when only 2% of the population have been tested and no state has seen a downward 14 consecutive day trajectory in case numbers.
I constantly fall back to two things: 1. The common cold and the flu are contraindicated but somehow we’re supposed to go out there and work? 2. ASYMPTOMATIC! Why are they forgetting about that major factor?
Now if folks were receiving the funds from the CARES Act from their states there won’t be this pressure on some therapists. One point of the CARES Act was to compensate for the average worker’s weekly income so that folks could stay home. But no funds or very little of those funds have been paid out.
I’m just flabbergasted by spas, on demand mobile companies, state boards and other associations, actually pushing for, encouraging, and creating “safety” measures that are far from safe.
Look at what nurses are wearing just to collect samples! They’re covered head to toe, no forearms showing, mask, a shield and that’s to collect samples from both those experiencing symptoms and not. But yet we should be in a room in our regular attire, a gloves and a mask and somehow, somehow, SOMEHOW, for 60-90mins we’ll be okay?
Well written. Thank you.
Thank you, Tracy! You are right on target, and I totally agree with you. Beautifully written! I know therapists need to work, but it might be too soon. Don’t risk your life or the life of your client.
Caroline Munday says
Thank you so much!!! So well written!
Thank you for taking the time to write this essay. Massage has been my only profession for 30 years. Stopping practicing was necessary, and having patience is too. I agree wholeheartedly with your statements.
Thanks for covering every angle! I wholeheartedly agree with the entire article. After 18 years of working in the massage industry, I am deeming myself retired until further notice. Thankfully, I’m a sole practitioner and I call my own shots. The risk is too great! Thanks again!
Jill Berkana says
Thank you so much, Tracy. I will share this far and wide.
Elizabeth B. Scupham says
Hear hear. This is very well said. Important. Obvious. Shockingly obvious. In all the boards I’ve looked over comments no one is saying this. Doctors nurses first responders dressing up like beekeepers to be in the room with people who MIGHT have the virus and we are going to be skin to skin in an unventilated room for an hour or more with someone? And then not touch their credit card? This is just theatre to give the appearance of “all is well.” Breaks my heart. I SO want to go back to work. Thanks for writing this and putting it so starkly and clearly.
Well said. Thank you for commiting this to writing and sharing!
Paula Kochanek says
I respectively disagree. Fearmongering by the media and health organizations has made healthy individuals into fearful bowing subjects. That’s the experiment. If the virus is so contagious a routine trip to get food among many individuals that have touched plenty of plastic surfaces is no different then the credit card example. The “thing left out” is just because “suddenly” the government says the pandemic is over protects you from what? The next lie that says the asymptomatic person was lying because her neighbor saw her sneeze even though she was 6 feet away from the credit card.
I agree. No one is forcing you to go back to work but in the same manner don’t force me to live under the same fear. I have clients that are legitimately in pain and suffering because I’m not allowed to work.
Lacey, I agree with you. All viruses have a shelf life, and this one has expired. To continue pushing this
false narrative is absurd. I have 3 cousins who’ve tested positive for COVID-19 , and they’re all fine. Look for any interview with Dr. Judy Mikovits, and you’ll learn that the CDC has just revised their stats for COVID-19, and the death toll was revised downward from 66k to 37k. That’s a huge discrepancy.
Tracy Walton says
Unfortunately Mikovits has been widely discredited. Among other things, no other lab was able to replicate her work. This is problematic.
Lacey, agree 100%
Thank you – thank you – thank you! A voice of reasoning!
Why is the response to those of us who would rather exercise caution “fear mongering” and “I don’t live in fear”. Not all of us are living in fear, but in fact have a reverence for life. It is not my right to potentially make someone sick with a virus that could potentially kill them. I have more respect for people who are in dire need of the cash flow to live as a reason to return to work than those who drag out the “but my freedoms” and “fear mongering media” arguments. You’re wrong. Literally the entire WORLD is experiencing this. The situation in the US is not unique, and continuing to act like it’s fear based is ignorant and selfish.
Scarlet Cleary says
I think people are misunderstanding that people can not be protected and aren’t meant to be. Herd immunity only works when the herd contracts this virus. The only reason to be quarantined was to “flatten the curve”. It is going to rise. People ARE going to get sick and they need to, just not all at once; which is why things are slowly reopening. This way the spread will be slower but it IS going to spread. You can not prevent that. The immune compromised and those at risk need to continue to shelter in place while the healthy go out and create the herd immunity needed to protect them. If you’re afraid of catching COVID, stay home, eventually the brave front liners will develop the immunity for you and when it starts to decline you can come out of hiding.
Very well said.
Herd immunity is a lot more complex than that. There is currently no evidence that people who have recovered from COVID-19 and have antibodies are protected from a second infection. I’m not convinced that “catch and release” is a better course of action as it may needlessly increase the number of cases without the much hoped for herd immunity. I’m curious to know what’s the threshold? How many deaths and full ICU beds are enough for authorities, businesses, and individuals to pump the brakes? And at what point – and with what adjustments – can we swing wide our doors again?
Maybe you should read this:
Gary Trainer says
Finally, a rational comment.
Alexandra G Lopez says
You’re absolutely right, that’s how it needs to play out. Sadly, many more need to die to have that happen. I’ve been a therapist for 15 years. I have asthma and I live with my elderly and sick parents. I will continue to shelter in place because even though, I understand herd immunity and the need for more spread and death, I really don’t want it on my hands or conscious. I want to feel that I did everything I could to protect those lives I care for and luckily I can shelter in place for the time being.
I thought I would comment here since they seem like they’ve deleted my post but I was just
saying sounds like most have only listened to the fake media and not done their research. I did lots of research and lost lots of respect for the so called experts when I learned that this
virus was probably caused by Bill Gates, Dr. Fauci and other evil globalist and even the WHO and CDC has been found to be corrupt at times. Gates etc are hoping to make a fortune on their forced vaccines and other attempts to lead us into a one world government. He is also into depopulation so they don’t care about our health. They have used the media to scare us all to death and I’m sure their dissapointed that more people haven’t died. Wake up people and don’t be so brainwashed. Yes its a real disease they created which I think I may have even had in December but only because my boyfriend was coughing so bad. Just like the flu you avoid people in that condition. That’s my two cents that will probably get deleted again but you know some of us are broke and have bills so we shouldn’t be punished too. Their are many video’s out there but here is one https://patriots4truth.org/2020/03/06/dr-anthony-s-fauci-running-damage-control-for-pirbright-institute/
Lare damico says
So well said Tracy, I just sent it to another therapist and she was not impressed, her line was snark is unnecessary
As is condescension , I find everything Tracy said utterly true , theses are the realities now, testing is useless as one person flying in from a hot spot state can infect anyone
Immediately, I worked in 6 different rooms at 6 different places , there never had been a window to allow fresh air to circulate, I am taking a sabbatical for at least 6 months, it’s just not worth the risk, I understand there are therapists who need to work to pay bills , is your health worth the risk ? If one person gets sick, then your place has to close down and quarantine for 14 days ,…..
It’s too soon for me .. Real
Go see a psychologist and stop spreading insane conspiracy theory garbage.
Agreed. I feel fear mongering is prevalent as well.
Thank YOU, Paula! I am planning to re-open as soon as they “allow” us. I have always been highly vigilant, leaving 30 minutes to an hour between clients to safely clean all areas that we’ve touched,; cell phone, linens, pens. It also gives me time to rest and recenter before the next client. BEFORE COVID-19! I have a private practice in a rural community. I am going to see my local clients ONLY, until I feel safe enough to take out-of-towners. The thing about this virus, like the flu, is that it will continue to kill people every year, regardless of a flu shot being present. This is not going to go away. Ever. These viruses will continue to evolve, as always, creating new strains. That’s what they do. Everything else is control over and fear for the masses.
Ariana Raine says
Makes a lot of sense. But it’s a tough thing to ask people to give up their profession. Because that IS what delaying would mean for many of us. I feel very sure that most employers who are not also massage therapists (or estheticians, etc.) will not be willing to bend over this far backwards and sacrifice profits to such an extent to protect their employees. And independent massage therapists will not be able to put their businesses on hold for 6 months or however long it takes — while still paying rent, not to mention CEU classes, license fees, insurance, etc… Putting single practitioner businesses on hold indefinitely will pretty much mean shutting down permanently, and that’s a bitter pill after the many years (16 in my case) of investing in a practice — investing years of time, practice, education, costs for new equipment & classes, not to mention the emotional investment…. I can understand very well how not everyone will be willing to make the choice to just walk away, especially if they have no other profession to fall back on.
Thank you for writing this.
What you address here is still relevant to the future outbreaks as well. I’m really wondering what the profession at large will do to get ready for the next wave. This literally could be the END of our full time profession if we don’t organize as a group and figure out our response. We *should* have a union.
We do need a union ! Desperately
Linda Conte says
You are a groundbreaker, thank you so much for this.
Thank you! I finally feel like I am not the only person that thinks it is too soon to return for massage therapists. Our contact levels are not even close to any other job out there. I will definitely be taking this article to my boss.
Excellent and thoughtfully written.
Julie Ackerman says
Brilliant Tracy, truly brilliant and as you stated it is so important to send to our Governors so they don’t open us back up and cause us to lose our unemployment (if we ever get it).
Most people in Florida can’t even get unemployment. Massage Therapy does not qualify. May daughter, who has her own practice has been trying for months and is continuously rejected. If she isn’t permitted to open soon, she will lose her business.
Judy Stahl says
I have a track record in this field.
By definition, when practicing massage therapy, physical distancing is impossible to accomplish. Impossible. So, what this means, girls and boys, is this:
While we are in the midst of a global pandemic caused by a brand new virus for which we have no cure, and no vaccine, and for which we have zero idea of what all the devastating effects may be that this virus can cause on a human being, WE DON’T DO MASSAGE.
This fact is so elementary, so basic, so fundamental, so obvious, that it is incredible that we are even having this conversation. Yet, such is the state of the massage therapy ‘profession’ in this country.
Massage therapists will end up being ‘super spreaders’. Some of our ranks will die a horrible death from this virus. Some of these massage therapists’ clients will die a horrific death. It will happen because we ignored the first and most important rule of being a healthcare professional:
First, do no harm.
I know people need to make a living. But this will just be making death. Regardless of how difficult it is to be without an income, fantasy, pie-in-the-sky blather from folks who are in it for a buck, is going to kill people. This is what our ‘profession’ has come to? Really?
If we do not do the OBVIOUS right thing for our clients in this situation, which is to NOT perform massage until we have the necessary data and treatment, then we cannot claim to be health care professionals. We are, in fact, purveyors of death and destruction.
We cheapen and pervert what may otherwise be the most effective non-pharmacological treatment for both mental, emotional, and physical pain and suffering known to humanity.
And that may be the worst outrage of all.
Perfectly said, Judy.
Yours is the comment mist relevant.
Do No Harm
Judy we need these words of yours. They are so true and excellently put. Yours words here and Tracy’s need to be shared every where. People need to be educated. Our government needs , all departments need to be educated , bipartisanship must come together. Tracy and Judy how can I get both of your words out there to try to educate fellow LMT’s, healthcare professionals, government officials that are wanting to open to soon. We still have to many unanswered questions. I know I am not alone here with wanting to help. Let us know. Also, maybe you two gals need to get together online and talk. You both have said so much and so well. Thank you.
Tracy Walton says
Use any of the language here that you need. Just lift it and use it–I hope it helps!
Dear Judy, you are speaking the Truth. I am asking myself every day what is wrong with our Industry, You don’t massage infected people and spread this unknowing disease.
We need serious help to protect the massage industry. Where is the help?
This is mind boggling.
Where is The Massage Therapy Association?
Where is AMTA?
Clayton Rowe says
Just plain and simple. Let’s maintain our integrity. Hold off on the massage until we can be sure about the safety of ourselves and our clients.
Pam Soule says
To drop all that we know about safety, precautions (which are now on everyone’s end to protect each other)! when it could mean so much, is irresponsible.
In everyone’s defense, it is hard to SEE amid the needs of our clients (that we old so dear) and or own needs to create income, and a whole lot more, we simply can become distracted from our purpose of holding the line of safety.
Bless us all who can hold the line.
Maryanne Robinson says
This is so true. I have been feeling so depressed and anxious over the last couple of days. Our governor has made a huge mistake opening up our beaches and allowing tourists to flood our area. All the while, we, the small business owners, are being lost in the shuffle.
Beau L says
Thank you for writing this. I just forwarded this to the chiros where I work. They are great people who have not pushed me to return (“legal” for me after May 8th, already legal for them), and yet are eager for me to do so. This is a challenging place for each of us, and there are no answers that satisfy every desire we have. I’m a calculated risk taker and it pains me to say that the odds are not in my favor on this one.
Eloise Wright says
Please, PLEASE put this into a petition and we shall gladly sign this! I have been doing Massage since the 80’s and am currently 68 years old. I am a sole-proprietor and to no avail, have not been able to get assistance with PPP since I am only 1 employee and they keep running out of monies! Then the challenge with the paperwork and changes for self-employed and weeks without work or income for bills or business. Closed my doors March 25th 2020. Yes, I will love to open back up and do this safely however, points taken in your informative and thorough letter. A closed room and skin contact is needed to perform massage. I also do Barefoot massage but must apply the creme with my hands. Even as a seasoned Therapist, it is not possible to keep a social distance and perform my job of LMBT without direct contact. We are well trained for safety and cleanliness and take precaution to provide a Therapeutic Environment but there are to many inconclusive results to open up just yet. When will it be? I want my clients to be well and certainly practice Mindfulness and Wellness for myself. At what point are we once again able to say Ethically, Massage Therapy is a safe practice/Profession?
Melissa Faith-Baun says
Wow, so powerful and true. Thank you Tracy Walton!!!
Don Dillon says
Thank you Tracy. A sane and sober proclamation for all massage practitioners who are feeling anxious and unsure in the face of the “invitation” before them to return to work.
Yours is the voice of advocacy contrasted against suspect corporate interests that, given this novel and not-yet-understood threat, should be aligning with your direction. Our profession, with such intimate proximity to our clients, is most vulnerable to this type of contagion.
“Refuse to supply the subjects for this experiment.” Chilling.
Thank you for your position, and your indomitable spirit.
Marie-Christine Lochot says
Tracy as always you are the compassionate voice of reason .
You should be head of our massage associations which are failing us . Yes ABMP is better than AMTA but this is all about going back to work . And of course I want to go back to work but I don’t think that I will be so good if I am scared to get it or give it to a client . And what about breathing all those chemicals ?
Irene Diamond says
And this is why we wait ’n’ see…
The massage profession is no different than the hundreds of other professionals who are wondering how they can return to the jobs they love that REQUIRE close contact with clients and other people.
Everyone must take their time and not rush back in before more is known on how to do it safely for all involved.
It is apparent, not everyone has the ‘luxury’ of waiting for the ‘all-clear” signal that massage services can be safely provided once again. …
If the answer is, “NO”, to the question of, “Can I financially ride it out until I can provide massage again?”
I suggest, there are many other ways people can generate revenue/income/paychecks for themselves and their families, either temporarily or permanently …even if it is not a preferred choice.
The true question is, “Is my rush to generate revenue from massage, worth risking lives?”
VERY well written. After 15 years in the industry you learn the quickest way to get sick every year as a massage therapist, is to be closed in that room with someone claiming to have allergies, just got over the cold yesterday or maybe “its sinuses”. Despite being “prepared” every year for cold & flu season. With the virus being deadly taking that risk is not worth my life at any point. In no way will any amount of cleaning/disinfecting stop the transmission of airborne germs from happening in an enclosed space. Are they to wear the face masks while face down as well? If not you are asking for your employees to be contaminated. If there are 2 professions that know how unsanitary the human body can be despite how clean you may think people are. That would be doctors and massage Therapist. This profession has mad me more aware of germs, cleanliness and just how easily they are transmitted when stuck in a small space. Not only are we to provide unsafe massage services but also play nurses and take temperatures now? I’m sorry but I do not feel comfortable being in people’s mouth talking temperatures or face giving neck massages when both ways leave me exposed as the Therapist.
Debbie Shewman says
Yes, I totally agree with you how easy it was to catch that “allergy” even when we are so sanitary and cautious with germs. People should not go back to work yet.
Amy Bean says
Thank you for this. I’m a sole proprietor without employees, but you’ve addressed many of the questions I’ve been thinking myself. I miss my work and my clients, and I’d love to have an income again (no unemployment yet). But I’m not in a hurry to touch bodies again anytime soon. Or add 30 minutes to every session to clean all touchable surfaces, change my clothes, disinfect the air, table & store used linens safely. It’s not clear how to make all of this happen, safely, for any of us.
Evon Bailey says
Amy, we are on the same page. I am a sole proprietor. I pay rent at a salon with 53 rooms. It has one receptionist to escort clients to the various rooms and clean restrooms occasionally. I am seriously thinking of exiting until I am comfortable. I love money but I love me more. I am not getting unemployment but I will survive. Stay safe Amy don’t rush.
My sister is a nurse in Virginia. She is heading into week #5 of recovery from Covid-19 without hospitalization. AND she just tested positive for Covid-19, again. Her hospital wants her to return to work regardless of this finding. They are choosing NOT to follow the CDC’s guidelines for healthcare workers requiring two negative test results before returning to work following an infection or known exposure.
“DO NO HARM”. This is the simple truth that sustains me in my steadfastness to refrain from rushing back.
Thank you for the facts, simply and emphatically stated.
I think it’s hilarious that all you “therapists “ who claim to work miracles and be such a gift to everyone with your healing powers, cower and look for reasons to run. People need the help of skilled therapists. You are afraid to touch skin, but you’ll go to the store or anywhere outside of your homes. You claiming you have the answers have the right to do what you want for yourself. You do not have the right to speak for all. Stay at home and let the practitioners that actually make a difference, work. You can take precautions to lessen the chance of spreading but this is nothing new. There’s viruses always out there. Better go hide in your spiritual bunker with your candles and give yourself continuous pats on the back.
Joe Wiseman, LMT says
Amen. I’m no more afraid of this bogeyman virus than I am of the common cold or influenza. I’m not afraid of working and helping people again.
husband of Houston LMT says
Obviously neither of you as lost anyone infected by this virus.
She is not speaking for all. If you are healthy and want to work, go for it.
Please understand that not all of us are healthy ‘therapists’ and most of us don’t claim to work miracles.
You don’t sound like a massage therapist in your choice of words.
I would hope that if you are, you have empathy for older therapists, and in fact, everyone, who are not ‘cowering’ but trying not to get sick.
Once most of the ‘herd’ is immune, then the vulnerable will be safe from spread by symptomatic or asymptotic carriers.
Evon Bailey says
If you are a massage therapist, she is definitely speaking for all of us. Unless you own an establishment and have people working for you, and love money more than lives, then she is not speaking for you.
thank you…this thread js actually making me intensely angry…I appreciate you speaking your truth.
Kevin, Joe, agreed.
Carole Ben says
I agree with Kevin. There is no perfect environment that will allow us to feel 100% safe. There is so much controversy with this virus- especially the asymptomatic symptoms. This virus is 79% related to SARS from 2003. We still do not know where this “virus” originated. There is a lancet paper that describes how this test was given to show the current genome strain. Only 9 patients were tested. The “virus” was not purified. And there was no negative group that the Chinese studied. I encourage you to look up Dr Andrew Kaufman, MD. He has Utube documentation to show what this virus is really about. I had a blood test two weeks ago and was negative. I had symptoms very similar to the COVID-19 in January after traveling and my antibodies were negative. There is so much we still don’t know!
I understand how most everyone on this forum needs to take precaution. However, there are lots of clients that have not been touched or hugged in weeks. And are in so much pain. How to we overlook them? I plan to proceed with caution and encourage my clients to get tested. I have not received any money from the state yet, so cannot continue without going into debt much longer. Power to the ones that can. All the best to you!!
Art R. says
I’ll try to not match your condescending anger while responding to your post. I didn’t see anything in Tracy’s post talking about working miracles. Responding to science and prudence is not cowering or looking for reasons to run. Those advising caution are actually looking for ways to return to SAFE treatment. Possibly any reservations about touching skin, along with the other hazards of close contact is not fear of contracting the virus but of spreading it to others. Read some literature about dangers of going to the store and keeping proper distance, and compare with the other risks stated. Apparently you feel that you “actually make a difference” and may be an excellent therapist, but licensed doctors with scupulous safety methods available are only treating cases needing immediate care, not “elective” massage even for clients who may have desire for relief from pain or dysfunction. “There’s (sic) viruses out there” for sure, but you are playing with mortality. It’s the same as the “my constitutional rights to not wear a mask” folks. If you want to risk your own health, that is perfectly fine, but you are risking others’ health. I does seem angry and condescending to accuse people demonstrating medical prudence and safety of hiding in a spiritual bunker (what does safetey have to do with spirituality?) with candles and continuous pats on the back. I wonder how such anger comes across in your work?
Linda V says
Cyndonna Tefft says
Thank you for a well written piece. Nebraska says MT’s can reopen tomorrow, May 4th if both therapist and client wear masks and follow CDC guidelines (?) In Omaha we are having our second week of sharp increases (double digit) in positive test results. We get mixed message from the Health Dept. and our Governor. Franchises are opening. Some Spas are opening. However, those of us in the Small Business arena even though we may need the income, see the disastrous outcome of leap frogging over the different phases for reopening. Unless and when there is a decrease in positive test results, and then if it is even safe, would we consider reopening. Yes it is tough when clients seem to pressure us, but in the long run, our duty is to First Do No Harm.
Cindy Frahm says
Thank you so much for putting this beautifully written statement.
As a sole proprietor and independent contractor in the healthcare industry here in Texas, I am in the same quandary as to reopening. I know it is too soon to do so and I will remain closed until at least June 1.
I am an 62 yrs old, the sole caretaker of my 82 year old mom, hubby who is 75 with congestive heart failure, 37 yr old son who is transplant recipient, and daughter/granddaughter with asthma. How would I feel if I went back to work, using all of the CDC Guideline
Precautions, but still have that one client who is asymptomatic show up infecting me and I carry it home to these individual family members, possibly killing them? I would not be able to live with myself at that point. It is bad enough just having to go to the grocery store for them and risking infection.
Think about that while looking at going back to work too soon. Could you live with the consequences of an inadvertent infection to your loved ones. Listen to the survivors’s families begging people to stay home.
Thank you again for a terrific message .
Bridget Richards, LMT LLC says
Very well said Tracy.
Leslie Rosenthal says
Thank you. Someone had to say this and you did it so well.
These words needed to be said. Your amazing, thank you thank you thank you!!!!
Well said. Thank you. I’m working on my Plan B just in case.
Bonny D Goslee says
Very Well put and much needed! Thank you Tracy,
However- I’m a provider and instructor of Live classes.
Being a CE instructor yourself, this all applies to our classes. Here in GA we are due for our renewal before Oct 31st.
As well as teaching our offered Live CE classes, WE too, need our own live hands-on CE’s and our GA board has not amended our rules yet for us to comply for (at least) this renewal period with webinars or online CE’s. I heard they are waiting to “discuss”it in their June meeting – however this doesn’t give us instructors much time to turn our live classes into webinars.
Should they keep live CEs mandatory- it puts EVERYONE at risk even if we limit the number of attendees.
Any thoughts on how we can address and present your above info to our board ( all states) ? What can we all do? petition? At this rate we are supposed to practice as usual with limited protection as is. Our arms are maybe only 3 ft long- that’s not even the social distancing amount of 6 feet!
Tracy Walton says
I hear you, Bonny! Yeah, we need to work out the CE ramifications. I am so sorry about GA, on so many fronts…:( This is huge.
Thank you for bringing the CEUs up Bonny. I’m a GA LMT as well. Unfortunately, our state is run with great incompetence.
Thank you for the article Tracy. On point.
I cannot agree more with the therapists recommending we have a union. I have always thought it’s ludicrous that we don’t have one. Long overdue.
“Step up. Otherwise it’s just a show”.
The last two lines say it all for me!
thank you so much for the wonderful message!!!
Infact I was asking myself if I have to start my practice even if I love doing my training and I like helping people but I was not sure if I can protect myself and my client as I have to use public transit.
Shahwar Dur-e says
Thank you! Very well written .Thanks for the insight in detail. Every life counts.
Stay home with your loved ones.we pray Almighty to end this pandemic ASAP.
Zoë Vaughter says
Tracy, thank you for your accurate, well reasoned and intelligent words to those who would sacrifice MTs for a bit of money.
I got an email from the chiro office I work for and zero mention of PPE, sanitizing, protection for us or clients or which clients we would be able to see, just stay 6ft away from the chiros and the front desk staff. Oh, and don’t come in when you’re not scheduled.
Needless to say I’m outraged. I see their true colors and what their MT staff mean to them.
I needed this comprehensive response that you’ve shared with us.
Thirty years in this field and I’m appalled at what our lives are worth to chiros, business owners and politicians. We’re fungible pawns in their economic game. I’d like us all to remain resolute in not playing this dangerous roulette type game with any of them.
Thank you again! Your words and insight are much appreciated!
Renee Principe says
Thank you for this articulate and well written article, Tracy. You put into words my thoughts on reopening my practice perfectly.
Reading through the commenets here I can see that some people are sceptical to the point of denial. It’s easy to deny the facts when your personal reality isn’t impacted.
Here in Montgomery County, PA we are still in a code red. New cases and deaths are still on the rise and I’ve been closed since March 16th. Clients are calling, I’m calling them back. Clients are messaging, I am messaging them back….clients are actually driving by my house to ask when I’m reopening?? So there is pressure to reopen from all sides. I will not. Intellectually, I simply can’t work through the ethical guidelines that our profession has created for us and justify opening. And let me add that I am grateful for the guidelines…they have successfully helped me through situations I was challenged by.
Anyway, I will take this opportunity to step back and evaluate the profession that I love and believe in and which has given me so much.
Thanks again for your voice. You give me hope.
Renee Principe, LMT, BCMT
Sharon C says
Thank you Tracy Walton, well said! Please send this to all the MASSAGE ENVY’S!
Yes!!! This! They don’t pay us enough on a regular day, but to put our lives at risk for their profit?! No way!
husband of Houston LMT says
Sharron, Get everyone you know to send , share and post this to everyone you know including your boss.
Get a friend or even reasonable client to send.
Massage Envy is a Franchise so hit them all.
Use every social media platform you can. Find a hashtag pertaining to this issue.
Be careful, safe and Fight the Ignorance of those demanding a massage.
Best wishes, g
Christi Shelby says
I know many will get mad at me for saying this but I think we should not be so scared and paranoid. I personally feel not afraid around people unless their coughing, sneezing etc like they had the flu etc. After all Ive done tons of research online and have lost respect for the so called experts Dr. Fauci, Birx, WHO, CDC, Bill Gates and the other evil globalist behind this disease. Not to mention Dr. Fauci gave millions to the lab that started this and they own the patent. I feel they started it and wanting to not only hugely profit from forcing vaccines on us but their also protected with a clause they can not get sued. Globalist like Bill Gates are also into depopulation so they don’t care about us. They own the media so they have done their best to scare us to death. They have falsified many of the true deaths etc. How can we trust all their scare tactics. Some of us like myself have had trouble getting into the unemployment system and need the money but I respect those that want to wait a little while to reopen for their own personal reasons. Those that come in for a massage know that if their afraid their taking a risk just like they would be going to the store. I know alot of people who have only listened to the “fake media” on tv and not done this research I have probably don’t believe me etc, but out of all the many video’s etc I found I thought I would share a couple so you can at least keep a open mind as to the possibility they were trying to “scare” us more then honestly guide us and please don’t hate me or shoot the messenger as they say. We all have rights to our opinions. https://patriots4truth.org/2020/03/06/dr-anthony-s-fauci-running-damage-control-for-pirbright-institute/ and here is proof the CDC has had some corruption at times too. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ncMGccpJ80s
jenna weed says
Thank you so much for this! Your thoughtful and insightful words reflect how I feel. We need to stand up and become vocal vs just sitting here like defenseless ducks.
It will all come down to “what is your comfort zone?” Some have loved ones at home to worry about. Some have compromised systems themselves. Some don’t get paid well by the franchises.
Some are worry warts to begin with.
Others are single with no kids or close relatives. Others have good BMIs and keep themselves super healthy. (Not that that gives you a 100% pass) Some have out-call practices where they make $100-$150 a service. Others are fierce warriors who have no fear.
Get Covid now, or get it later. Wait for a vaccine, whenever that will be? Or protect yourself as best as possible? And what happens when you find out a client you worked on is positive? Quarantine yourself for 2 weeks every time?
If your comfort zone is to go into the trenches… have at it. If you prefer to wait… we understand. If it’s time to transition to a different occupation or retire…thanks for your contribution to our industry.
But please don’t begrudge or beleaguer those who choose to go back to their tables whenever that may be. As that is their comfort zone.
Well done Tracy Walton! Lots of food for thought.
Elizabeth O says
Thank you, hear in Alabama I now how clients clammering for me to return to work because one therapist got an exception for medical massage with a doctors prescription. This is ridiculous. I won’t risk my unemployment to work on 2 or 3 people and risk my health. We definitely need to have a stats coalition speaking for us.
Jose V. says
A good read. However, I always look at the brighter side without duly sacrificing safety. Economic recovery and MT safety can go hand in hand. For the benefit of everybody, Massage employers must provide an Antibody test for Return to Work MTs. Presence of anti-Covid19 antibodies offers some immunity to the MTs themselves, so this would address the problem of Asymptomatic clients.
Not if your next client has no immunity. And, as hard as we try to disinfect, what is the probability that it will/will not be passed on. It’s all a guessing game at this point. Hopefully the risk takers stay safe and don’t spread the virus and hopefully those that choose to wait a little longer can afford to not go bankrupt.
This is so well said. I wish we could all rally at our respective Capitol buildings and really be heard. This is not over. I am going back to work. My employer is an awesome person t work for who is struggling with the governor’s orders and with keeping us safe. Therefore- as you said- we should join together and protest for our own safety. Thank you for an article that was excellently written!!!
Glad to see this post.
Lucky enough to have been mostly retired at this NO touch time. My 30 very satisfactory career in MT doesn’t look great for future therapists at this time. In doing body work I know that patience is a priority and feel that it is needed with this pandemic as well. Stay safe!
B Herzberg says
I couldn’t have said it better myself. Thank you!
Sarah van Leer says
Thank you! I am not a massage therapist, but I had a small alternative healing practice before COVID-19. I have been struggling with all of the issues you raised in your wonderful letter. I have decided not to reopen for the foreseeable future. I just don’t want to put my clients at risk. I am so glad I am not alone.
Rhonda Payne says
Well said. Thank you for sharing. I shared this to facebook.
Lumel S. says
Thank you!! Completely agree!! Well said!!
Carol C says
FORWARD TO MASSAGE ENVYS!!!! IGNORANT!!!!!
Thank you so much for this very well articulated message. Can you please make a petition? A national petition? I will be sending it to my governor and representatives and fellow LMTs. I would like to send to my employer, a Massage Envy franchise, but am afraid of repercussions such as being fired and therefore losing my current unemployment benefits, or being brought back and punished by not getting scheduled very much and barely make any money, not to mention risking my health!
I also have concerns regarding liability. Will employers make us sign a waiver of some sort if we catch or spread the virus? Where does AMTA stand regarding liability when it comes to spreading Covid?
Thanks again, and I hope every single person in this industry from owners/employers to workers see and read this.
Tracy Walton says
Oh, I wish I had those answers. Please join the COVID group on Facebook. “Massage, Health Practitioners and COVID-19” or something like that.
Patricia Fast says
I hope this has been forwarded to state governors offices!? I want desperately to massage soon but only safely…let’s wait!!
Playing the other side of the argument:
What if we don’t get a viable vaccine or therapeutic treatments? What if it takes years? Even if we develop treatments and vaccines there will still be disease present in the population so where do you draw the line? Does our profession end? Communicable disease exists in many forms and we have managed to run our practices.
From an employer perspective, if we can’t open our businesses, we lose our homes, our retirements etc. An employee or freelancer can walk away from a job and move into another field or income stream with relative ease. An employer who has a 5 year lease with $500,000 of debt in the form of that lease and vendor contracts cannot. At some point, businesses will reopen and therapists will have to make the decision whether they want to come back to work. No one is forcing them. Covid19 will force many to reconsider their choice of work. Clients too will make the choice whether they want to get a massage. We must adapt to the new reality, we will stumble along sometimes but asking everyone in this profession to just stop until it’s completely figured out is unrealistic. I’m not saying we should all jump back in now, but that day is approaching.
Husband of a LMT says
Thank you so much Tracy. My wife is a LMT in Houston and I am very worried about her being called back to work.
Your letter will be spread, read and hopefully be the beginning of people thinking about facts and not risking our lives for the ignorant. WE MUST ORGANIZE !
Thank you for so succinctly saying what needs to be said. You are on the mark on every topic. I appreciate the time and thought that went into this. I appreciate you and the stand you are taking on our behalf.
Was this written by someone that works for the Washington Post? Perhaps CNN? I hope Massage Therapists that read this don’t get sucked in to the fear mongering. These claims that you make are not based in fact., and your conceited “know it all” attitude is something I’ve grown accustomed to seeing during this terrible time we’re all in.
As a practicing LMT for over 30 years and a clinic owner for 25 years with 18 employees, it is a tough position to be in. It has always been people first, money second. I provide full benefits with hourly and have sacrificed my own personal finances to keep insurance benefits in effect for staff while we’ve been closed for what will be for 3 months so far.
The reality is that in 1 to 2 months, approximately 25% of small businesses will close for good because they won’t be able to stay open. Loans or not, there could be no business for MTs to come back to.
It’s easy to say “it’s about the money” or that employers are greedy and put profit over people. As an employer, it’s my responsibility to find a balance between financial and personal health. With guidelines of 50% capacity what could be for months after whenever reopening begins, you could see job loss for MTs reach over 50%.
That would mean we should all reconsider a different profession and that massage may never make a comeback. The numbers of students declining is a multifaceted problem, with some employers being the issue. The key is mass testing so that those who don’t know they have Covid can stop infecting others unknowingly. It’s not an indefinite stay at home order that will resolve this.
Tracy Walton says
Sandy, thank you for speaking from an employer perspective. This is heartbreaking. Our safety net and testing are not there.
Thank you very much for this. My chiropractor employer has been generous and agreed that if I am not ready to come back to work when he opens the office tomorrow we can hold off for a couple of weeks. That is not enough for me with the stakes being what they are. Separating finances and emotions from the reality of what we do and do not know about the virus is a constant exercise for me. I stand by my decision even when I see others go back to work and I feel split down the middle by guilt and what I know is right for me. With difficult decisions in the past I have asked myself to imagine the possible outcomes of choosing one over the other, and then asking if I would be willing to accept those outcomes–is it worth it. In this case the answer is a solid NO.
Tony Siacotos says
In our profession, one of the unavoidable facts is that I am a vector of transmission for disease; I can be a source of infection to my clients or acquire an infection from them.
Even though I can’t eliminate it, I can take precautions to minimize these risks.
The fundamental problem in our current circumstance is that we do not yet have the knowledge (the specific characteristics if this virus) or the tools (a steady supply of PPE or ready availability of testing) to assess and manage risk.
So we wait until we do.
Thank you for writing so clearly on this for us.
Thank you, Exactly how I Feel!
Tyshaun Layne says
Perfectly stated! Thank you.
As a retired ER and Intensive Care RN I couldn’t agree more with your every point. There is no way my timeline for re-entering any business that involves close proximity to other people for prolonged periods of time is going to be shortened by. government policy. I am well aware of the difficulties of keeping anyone in protective isolation or of protecting ones self with personal protective equipment. It is incredibly easy to make an error or a break in technique that could transmit a virus or bacteria. It’s just too easy. I trained for years to become a nurse and we are asking tattoo artists and salon employees to attempt equal behaviors overnight? I will let my hair grow and my muscles ache until there is more hard, scientific data available.
Thank you for bringing this to the light of all.
Now to share this will clients of past and future.
Nicole Clarac Lagès says
Thank you so much for articulating this extremely difficult situation point by point.
I am a LMT of 35 years, self employed & have not had a cent of relief funding yet…I still can not believe that the planet has been brought to a standstill. But this is what I feel I must do…STOP and be STILL.
Be individually responsible in doing my best not to get infected & most importantly, as a health provider, not to pass it on to another.
I would like to know if you would allow me & I hope all of us who read this article, (which clearly expresses my gut feelings of frustration, fear & eagerness all in one), To COPY it and SEND it to our representatives: Mayors, Governors and Senators.
First & foremost, Massage Therapists are 100% “hands on” people.
Your straight-forward outline might reach the good senses of these representatives to postpone the reopening of the Massage Therapy businesses until the CDC and scientists think it is safe.
Hippocratic oath: I believe this oath also pertains to Massage Therapists!
Latin for ‘first do no harm.’ A guiding principle for physicians that, whatever the intervention or procedure, the patient’s well-being is the primary consideration!!!
Thank you once again for your support!
Nicole Clarac Lagès
Tracy Walton says
Nicole, lift any language you want and use it in your letters. Good luck!
David Burrows says
thank you for speaking up
Are you all ok money wise? I am not. I rent rooms at a clinic. I rent my home. I’ve been given discounts on rent but still have to pay the majority of my expenses. Groceries are not discounted, of course. I am a single mum with 2 kids that got divorced 2 years ago and was just getting back on my feet financially,. I have seen no stimulus check and no UI. What are you all living off when you say you are totally fine and support being closed to business and shaming those that are making their best efforts to possibly see clients? I was talking to a colleague today and they can get by on her husbands income. I can’t. If society needs us to stop working, then they have to provide some seriously different economic plans, which they have not been equipped to do at short notice at this volume. It is a shit show, and it is understandable. No one could have been prepared for this. It doesn’t help when people in our own field act high and mighty because they can take multiple weeks off work and not loose their business or end up bankrupt, because they are not the primary or sole breadwinners or just have themselves to support. Some of us are forced to go back to work in order to survive ourselves. Not losing my home and being able to feed my kids is my priority and I have taken signifiant steps and spent a significant amount of money on clinical supplies to make my clinic as safe as a place as I can make it for me and them. At the end of the day, it’s totally their choice whether they come or not. I’m not forcing people to put themselves in a position that they are uncomfortable with, but still, I know my clinic is WAY safer than going to the grocery store
Tracy Walton says
Helen, it is your story, of staring down financial devastation, that moves me to demand in this post that employers advocate. For you and everyone. The lack of safety net gives people no choice but to return. You are absolutely on point. I don’t think we know for sure about the grocery store comparison, but I really do pray that everything turns out okay for you and everyone in your community.
I’m a Licensed Esthetician and this goes for us as well. You said every single word I’ve been thinking !! Thank you I’ve had such anxiety thinking about doing facials so soon . Honestly I’m making the same and probably more NOT WORKING getting unemployment and the weekly federal gov. $ !
NO HURRY to get back before it’s safe.
My brother lives with me and was just diagnosed w/ liver cancer and must get chemo. I don’t want to kill him quicker than cancer by risking bringing the virus home ! NOT to mention my teen daughters ‼️
Joni Masse says
I resonate on every word you wrote. I personally am retiring my practice until further notice. I can afford to. I cannot afford not to, as I have emphysema and have lived w a chronic cough for about 10 years already. My sister in law also is a LMT and believes she cannot afford not to open, and has convinced herself she will be safe if she cleans, wears a mask, etc. It is a personal choice, and one which will have its ramifications for a long time to come. I highly encourage us all to step up to the plate and take charge of our own lives and protect the lives of everyone we meet know and love, the best way we can. Sadly enough, more will get sick, more will die, and we will learn what we ought not to have done. In the future of our profession, we will know more, and we will have our lessons be known for the next generation to follow. I for one, am stepping aside for now.
Shanika W. says
Very well said!! I’m super hesitant to get back into the field. Private clients are anxious and asking, while my boss is also a bit anxious yet cautious. I, wholeheartedly, believe we are in a conundrum. Our field is not being supported in the way it should or needs to be, and we just don’t know or have enough viable information on this virus to jumped back to work. I miss massaging , but the unknown is scary!
Margy sommer says
Thanks so much for this, I have been massage therapist for 29 years, I live with my 89 year old health compromised mom, today is my birthday, I am 58 .- a really bad time for a career change. I am scared, worried all the time about this industry I LOVE- We touch people more than ANY industry, people need touch but not by putting ourselves at risk. THANKS FOR YOUR ACTION! sending love and hope
Jack Merritt says
Most intelligent information I have seen yet. I have been a therapist for 20 years and love my job. However, I’m 62 years old and a type 1 Diabetic. It is not worth my health or the risk to my family to go back to work while we have no idea as to what is happening. Very well written letter and thank you for standing up for us all.
Diane Mastnardo says
Thank you Tracy for being a True Leader in our profession and being brave.
Kathy Paul says
Thank you Tracy….for once again clarifying, articulating and amplifying the situation. Thank you for your leadership.
As valuable as I know massage can be – I can not imaging being able to give an effective massage while wondering if by doing so I may be a link in a chain leading to one or more persons’ needless death or suffering.
Svetlana Lopez Vargas says
You are absolutely right! Thank you for your position, from a RMT with 13 years of experience.
Sorry I have to disagree. Your article says this is a disease. It’s a viral infection a flu. Yes I agree it’s a terrible flu one that can kill a person who is compromised. 99% of my patients are not compromised they are stressed out right now need to get back to a normal life. The last time I had a viral infection I went to see an doctor twice and both times I was sent home and was told it has to run it’s course. People need to develop an immunity to this also I feel like it’s our best defence. Now there are the obvious precautions we need to take for our elderly populations and those who have compromised immune systems but 80% of the population does not fall under this category. Just some thoughts
Tracy Walton says
People are getting sick and dying who are not compromised.
Thank you so much for this post! I sent a letter to my State, County and City officials in Florida about this exact topic.
Thank you so much. I agree with you 100 percent. I am not ready yet!
A C says
I continue to pay my full rent for my solo practitioner space. While I respect my landlord, he has been clear to all 11 businesses within the building that no reductions in rent, delays in due dates, etc., will be made because he has a mortgage to pay on the building. His suggestion to all of us is to apply for small business loans and to apply for unemployment. Since I also have a second job at the hospital, I am not eligible for either. My high income came from massage, not the little job I have at the hospital for insurance. It does not matter that the landlord is taking ZERO additional steps to change ventilation, bring a cleaning crew in more often than once per week, etc. To me, that is a real danger for the solo practitioner in a multi-business setting. It is now on me to clean and sanitize 2 bathrooms used by all the small businesses in there and their guests, all the hallways, all the door handles, etc. Quite a large number of our cumulative clients are over 50, plenty more over 60.
One Lash and Nail person started seeing clients Friday. One Massage Therapist started Friday as well. Both cited needing the income to at least pay rent and not lose their spaces as the reason they are coming in. More than 50% of the Lash and Nail person’s clientele is over 55. But hey, she is bread winner in her family, and believes since the Governor says it is ok, she should be giving facials and pedicures, etc. That is TWO out of ELEVEN. What happens if we all decide to start back? How do we ensure clients do not infect each other? How do we ensure the “lazy” therapist is doing her part to check temps and follow guidelines…guidelines that only partially protect the rest of us anyway?
I feel as if I have an additional view to facts, as people using plenty of PPE within the hospital are STILL getting infected. Did they pick it up when a random person came through the ER? When an unknowingly infected family member ate at the Cafe without their mask? Or did they pick it up at a family event or the grocery store?
I am continually fascinated that we operate under the impression that washing our hands is going to prevent an airborne disease from infecting us. While it will help with the surface to face contamination, it will not keep you from inhaling the virus. It simply hangs in the air too long.
Because of my hospital job, I have now been away from my 7 year old daughter for over 45 days. She is with my parents. It is too risky to visit, as my father has COPD. I love my parents too much to inadvertently kill them.
To the folks on here who want to equate this to a hoax or a common cold or flu, I implore you to take note of this true story from just last week. (began several weeks ago)
A worker at a processing plant, wearing a mask everywhere but inside his home, became infected with the coronavirus. He brought it home to his wife, eight children and father. He gave the infection to all of them. He, his wife and his father ended up in the hospital. He is still in a coma. His wife was released to continue recovering at home. His father died in isolation. IF the plant worker wakes up, the hospital staff will have to tell him that virus he brought home to his extended family ended up killing his father. IF.
If I may, I find it both selfish and arrogant to call doing your part to protect others (Do unto others) “living in fear” or falling for “fear-mongering”. Yes, YOU may be healthy enough to come out the other side of your infection just fine…just like a common cold or the flu. But do you care so little for your fellow man that you would risk the lives of every single person you come into contact with to prove you are not afraid? Would it really be such a bruise to the ego to remain closed another month or two until there are substantially less active infections flitting about?
Am I enjoying using my savings for monthly obligations right now? No. Am I enjoying only video chatting with my daughter instead of hugging her? No. Am I proud to serve our population by manning my post at the hospital? Yes! Am I looking forward to picking up where I left off with massage when less of our population is unwittingly infecting each other? Absolutely.
Tracy, I look forward to finally taking your 4 day intensive when you are back up and running. I am confident that will be at a reasonable time, since I see several upcoming events showing canceled on your website calendar.
Hang in there people! Find something constructive to do with your time. Return to your profession if and when possible with a refreshed outlook and know that at least one person is thinking of all of you as a whole and encouraging you that we don’t have to be permanently beaten by this temporary problem.
Tracy Walton says
Thank you for every one of those sobering stories, including yours.
Sierra Adami-Koll says
I agree with so much of this and I know it comes from a good place, but it is also coming from a somewhat privileged perspective. At the end of May, I’ll either be forced to go back to work “too soon” or close my business and look for a new career. I can’t even pay my rent on the max unemployment that is offered in DC which is around $25,000 a year. It’s completely unsustainable. PPP if it goes through will help a little but is also very limited. Many of us don’t have the luxury to just “wait it out” and just return to it, when everything is super safe. We will be forced to walk away from a career we love and businesses we’ve worked hard to build, just to survive. Is that a decision we might have to make to reduce the spread of this disease, perhaps. But it’s more complicated than just staying home a little longer. It’s easier said than done. And just riding it out on unemployment is a joke in most places, unless you’re independently wealthy or in a 2 income household where your partner can support you. Massage therapists need financial support and funding.
Tracy Walton says
I advocate in the blog for employers to step up for their employees and get real relief. Unemployment is terrifying and real. And more terrifying, I think, if someone gets sick with COVID.
Dainah Craft says
Dear Tracy Walton and her sheeples, guess, based on your well written blog, that I shall be the only voice of dissent in your small world of people that live only in your small little bubble of fear and ignorance with you.
You are nothing, if not, cavalier, about the poverty and implosion of the economy that American Citizens, families, MT’s and our Valued clients (at last I value them) rely upon to stay healthy.
For example, receiving massage helps, as we know to maintain overall health by reducing cortisol stress hormones contributing to a balanced immune system, thus strengthening all (MT’s and clients alike) from contracting Covid -19 in the first place? I don’t know that specific numbers, but I am willing to wager my life that in the last 5 years POVERTY has and will continue to kill more people than Covid-19. Poverty, which we are literally standing on the precipice of because of the national hysterics regarding Covid, which you happily continue to feed and support.
I am a business owner in this industry that is in the middle of taking every recommended precaution before opening, while at the same time not requiring anyone who is scared, has been sick, or exposed to return — I have provided them the right to choose without ANY fear of reprisal for their jobs. And I never would require that people return if they are feeling truly unsafe. I would be the first person to send a person with symptoms of illness home immediately. I and my husband are both going back; we would never expect more from those we employee than we ourselves are willing to risk.
This is (or was) a free country, and if you are willing to sacrifice security for freedom, you don’t deserve to have either (Benjamin Franklin, Founding Fathering of the United States of America; in case you have never bothered to study history).
It is not your place to determine whether or not a person who wants to go back to work and take care of their families, and if people want to open their business while taking precautions should be able to. It is NOT your call to make. You do not have the right to infringe upon my rights.
Aids reared its awful head in the 80’s, Cancer has been around throughout the ages — we don’t “Understand” everything there is to know about those diseases, and yet…. people have still always been permitted to go to work. Should we have stayed home through the 80’s and 90’s?
Give me Liberty or Give me Death (Alexander Hamilton, another founding Father) — it’s my risk to take, and I refuse to allow you, the government, or anybody else to make that decision for me, and I will not make that decision for others. We are taking preventative steps as recommended by actual physicians who are studying this disease; we are offering the option to return as allowed by government; we are allowing those still feeling fearful alternatives so they don’t fall behind and can still contribute (all while maintaining job positions without pay cuts)
You have over-stepped the boundaries of critical thinking. I will remain the vehement, constitutionally based voice of reason over the voice of your fear and tyranny– which according to my observation always seem to go hand in hand. All of you agreeing with Miss Walton, have you even considered that massage therapy may be the alternative, the answer, and that your clients need you. Yet, you hold your gifts and talents back – out of fear…shame on you. I for one, can’t wait to be back to work.
Certified Massage Therapist since 2002
Successful Business Owner sense 2008, Massage employee before that.
Well said. Massage patients rely on massage therapy for health and well being and in many cases for to help recover from injuries. They never shutdown physical or occupational therapy and I have been seen all through this event. There are ways to have physical contact to employ therapy without significant risk. And it is voluntary on both parties.
Yogi Jan says
We have to look at the present situation in a more pragmatic way with a bigger picture and a better understanding. When the collective consciousness of human beings is corrupted by fear of death, a society which is very week and vulnerable is generated. This is what has happened in the entire world. Today we have generated successfully human bodies with a with a mind which is not at ease. Hence the dis-ease is spreading . We have to understand that everything that happens in the entire universe is cause and effect. We are seeing only the effect and do not pay attention to understand and eliminate the cause. We are just reacting to the effect. The cause of the present situation is the human beings in their exuberance to live with all the pleasures, acted irresponsibly. The virus which was comfortably hosted in animals as its habitat was destroyed by us. The poor virus is also trying to be alive as much as we want to be alive. Again we are trying to kill the virus. This invisible creature is very intelligent more powerful than the human intellect. It is finding ways to host in human beings. The human being whose immune system is strong and not compromised because of healthy living in physical, mental, emotional and spiritual level can live in harmony and host the virus with a few symptoms. The others whose immune system is compromised should be helped by wholistic therapies, hand in hand with the medical community. We can run away, hide and survive.
Bravo Dainah! Glad to see not all Massage people living their lives like frightened sheep. Finally an adult is in the room.
I, so-far, see nobody in this group describing how they refuse to practice their massage profession during the annual flu season when 50-70K people die each year in the US. Why is that?
99.9% of people who contract Covid recover. Better odds than the flu.
Dainah Craft says
I bet you don’t posses the guts to post my comment to your ridiculous blog. And I will mock you online for eternity if you don’t.
Tracy Walton says
Dainah, it’s ok if you want to mock or already have.
I did delay approving your comment along with several hundred others until now, but not deliberately. I thought comments had died down, because I wasn’t getting email notifications about them. Apparently the email notification was broken.
So now you and everyone else are here.
Linda V says
And I will bet that you have some growth potential in the area of stating your own thoughts and beliefs without insulting, degrading and demeaning others, while putting yourself above them. There are so many ways to make a point, without resorting to childish drama and lashing out at your peers.
Diana Thompson says
Well said. So true. All things I’ve said. The bazaar thing is I feel the tug even though I know better. I just bought $400 worth of PPE (I first checked with my nurse friend who’s currently working in an ICU to make sure they had enough) and I’m considering going back in June. I have so many clients in need. We’ve stayed in touch and they’re starting to ask if I’m going back in Phase 2 (WA is moving slowly…but slowly enough?). I’m torn between taking care of them and taking care of myself (a type 1 diabetic with a chronic cough that impedes my breathing). Isn’t interesting what we can talk ourselves into? Thanks for reminding me. JUST SAY NO.
Here’s a thought: what about all the essential personnel running our hospitals who have had to make do and press on without the support of massage therapy recommended by their doctor or mental health professional? I think every massage therapist needs to decide: am I providing a luxury? Or am I providing healing? I would hope every therapist and owner sees themselves as a healer and as an essential service.
It’s impossible to avoid risk in any situation, but the AMTA has laid out clear guidelines and practices to follow to mitigate risk for all. Can you imagine all the hospitals closing because doctors and nurses decided it wasn’t worth the risk to help their patients?
We are on the verge of a mental health crisis in this country. YOU are the front-line response. Thank you for all you have done in the past and will do with courage to remove physical and mental obstacles to wellness, enabling all the rest of us to help in other ways to the greatest extent possible.
Kate Gerencer says
Thanks so much, Tracy! Even those of us in private practice are feeling pressure, most of it well-meaning and/or stemming from need e.g. chronic pain. I find it heartbreaking to not be able to help them with muscle therapy. But the choice is crystal clear, as you so adeptly lay out. Have people lost their minds?!
I’ve been helping people remotely, asking for specifics about their pain, sending them photos and assisting on how to release trigger points, identifying affected muscles and suggesting safe clinical stretches & contractions, It often helps.
Your article is the best I’ve read on this subject. I feel the legitimacy of this deep in my bones. It doesn’t stem from fear so much as common sense and the responsibility to do no harm.
Well said. It saddens me that the dollar is so important to risk lives.
I have told my immediate sla manager, IF we have clients we are risking so much. Let alone putting all of us at risk. My clients demoographic is probable 65% african american. The other 35% are caucasion and latino. The majority of my clients are at risk just walking out of there homes.
My company has been gracious enough to pay us while we have been furloughed. Im sure that profit and loss numbers must be weigbing on the minds of spa management. I feel we should not open just yet. I know the governments are giving advise regarding hair salons. Nothing has been said. Which tells me the majority of law makers do not take massage seriously. At some point we can open under an improved setting and the testing, isolation and tracking is up and running better than it is.
Heather Hawthorne says
Thank you for this. You are saying what we all know to be true. It is true, this will be a seismic shift in our industry. I am 23 years into this profession, and I know that this is a deadly game I’m not interested in playing.
I personally Have been doing everything that you were saying about checklists, protocols,, etc. to help organize my clinic. And just yesterday I realized the reality of all of this. The only way I can protect myself, my clients and everyone in my community is absolutely without a doubt, to not do Massage. It’s a sobering fact but one I really think needs to be heard and accepted
LMT Birgit Sawinski says
LMT Birgit Sawinski, I don’t think it’s safe environment to return to Bodywork in a spa setting at this time with such close contact…N95 s are limited and don’t guarantee. We have such close contact and I am not willing to play Russian roulette daily with my Life. I have a friend that’s a doctor and she got it…her statement around her 10th day..people underestimate this virus. It’s the worst sickness she ever had…she has no pre-existing conditions…never smoked. She’srelspsing badly every few days….she’s more than 2weeks into COVID 19. No….I am not risking my life going back to do bodywork at this time. Common sense on staying alive. Thanks for your great article.
Tracie Livermore says
I read this article after ordering yet another set of supplies to ready myself and my business for reopening. I live in California, so we still have some time, but I want to get ahead of the supply curve. Thank you for writing what I know to be true in my heart, but did not wish to face. I have been in private practice for 30 years. I miss my client and my work. I want so badly to help my clients (I treat a lot of chronic pain). When I read your point about touch-less payment options my heart dropped. I have sent a copy of this article to my Governor and plead for his consideration of the points you bring up. Thank you so much!
Thanks so much for expressing this in such a well thought out and detailed post. I have felt the same way scared, nervous and horribly anxious. We have no voice to follow. We’re left to fend for ourselves. As you mentioned, I may be one to retire early before I really wanted to. I will not return until it is safe, which may be quite a long time . Longer then I want to wait. Our profession is hard enough. Now in a world where we’re suppose to be 6 feet from others and wear masks in every other situation MTs are expected to massage a client in a small unventilated room for 60 or 90 mins? I heat up without a mask. Add one and I’ll be passing out! But as long as we have plexiglass at the desk we should be good?! It doesn’t make sense. A mantra I live by, When in doubt DON’T! Thanks Im not feeling so alone.
Thanks for your comment. We do feel alone and unsupported. I guess we’ll all know in a few months how those complaining about their rights fare doing massage. Stay well!
Judith DeLany says
100% agree in its entirety. This is the leadership that people have been asking for, even if stay sheltered, safer-at-home is not what they wanted to hear. Every point Tracy has made rings true in my heart and in my head. It is just too soon and too dangerous. Every life matters and one small mistake can rip through a community. If you don’t understand that statement, then you do not know enough about this virus. I have studied the numbers, crunched the data, read the news and heard horrific accounts from patients and medical personnel, daily since early February (yes, I was in Ireland Feb 5th when I heard news of it in Europe). I still do not know how we will conduct a seminar with hands-on trade without significant risk to the students, the staff, those traveling, and the community where the class will be held. It is not yet time to experiment with that, without adequate PPE, and without extraordinary cleaning methods in the CE classroom. I don’t know all of the answers, but my answer for “is it safe to practice massage therapy now?” is simply and firmly, “No, it is not.”
Tracy Walton says
Yes! Judith, there are definitely ramifications for the CE classroom, too. I hear you. Well said.
Heather R says
Thank you, as everyone else above has stated. Such an excellent point by point take on what we are facing right now. I have been told that my establishment intends to reopen on May 30. There is no discussion of access to testing, or ppe. There are vague references to “new protocols” whatever that means.
In our hallways, there is not adequate space for client and therapist to pass another client and therapist safely. It is just ludicrous to consider reopening at this point, but clearly all anyone cares about is the almighty dollar. It is incredibly disappointing.
Although my fear has subsided some regarding covid 19 and my eventual return to work, the worry of returning to a small fraction of my former income while losing all of my unemployment benefits is high. That along with concerns about my service being far less effective and satisfying with all proper precautions in place.
Research was done a few years ago, it showed 10yrs ago there were 10K massage programs in the US, at time of research there were 1300 and decreasing.
Many new LMT’s were average 5-6yrs in profession before leaving.
That the retail massage industry wouldn’t be around in the next 10-15yrs due to no staffing, and changing economy. 4 massage businesses 4 locations have shut their doors in Colorado alone since the Pandemic, meaning they were barely holding on to begin with.
Brenda Schroeder-Miller says
Thank you Tracy.. I couldn’t have said it better…..although I sure have been trying!! We need to develop a coalition and stand up for ourselves. Your well thought out and insightful words have given me the energy I needed today to rise up again. I have been contemplating giving up my 19 year -Sole Practitioner career. Its just not worth it.
Leslie Dugan says
Thank you so much for caring about the reality of this situation for so many of us. I’m also grateful to hear how my fellow professionals are struggling with this too. I am a cautious person when it comes to the true consequences of this viral transmision. My question is, when will it be safe? Do we need a vaccine before it’s safe to go back to work? I have also understood that the herd immunity means people do get sick, and are expected to, but we are pacing contracting the virus so that there is medical aid available when we do get sick. I wonder, what does this means for our profession?
I’m 64, self employed, and am also saddened at the prospect that I will be abandoning the clients who have come to count on me over the years. Very sad.
Thank you again.
brillliant. precise, clear, and honest.
i just shared it with our state’s “re-opening task force” which is right this minute entertaing a demonstration on how massage therapy should be considered essential so it can re-open now.
we all know massage is essential.
we also know that the current situation is too dangerous to allow reopening.
thank you so much for your clarity, tracy.
I just wrote into my state representatives urging NOT to reopen. I referenced this article, thank you!
Could have not listed anything less or more. Thank you so much for stating this out loud. We just had a meeting about when and how reopening may look like and I had all the same concerns. But no one else spoke up, with me, so I thought I was in my own with these thoughts. So thank you!!
Carolyn Burnett says
Thank you, Tracy. I live in Texas and our governor just opened salons, barbershops and nail salons. Fearing MT’s will be opened next I googled “protocols to reopen massage therapy” and your blog appeared. The universe aligned your blog and my ideals, concerns, ethics, etc., etc… I appreciate you for taking the time to throughly write out what I’ve been thinking and more! I really cannot thank you enough. I do have the courage to stand for not reopening even if MTs in Texas are “next”. Now I have the wording for my scattered Covid19 impacted brain. I will quote you and refer my peers and clients to your blog. I believe in giving credit where credit is due.
Many blessing to you,
All said perfectly!!!! I agree.
Elisabeth Rio says
As you said so correctly, “There is no way to calculate the risk.”. The bottom line.
Marianna Maver, LMT RYT says
THANK YOU FOR SHARING THIS!!! I am in complete agreement. I stopped doing massage (and teaching my little yoga class) in mid-March after one of my clients let me know he was being tested for COVID. His result came back negative, but in the couple of days between the time he told me he was being tested and the time he let me know what his result was … I was on tenderhooks — how many people had I come in contact with since he’d first come in to my office…? What if I’d been infected, what ? I did NOT want to be responsible for being a “Ground Zero” for the virus, passing it on to my clients, my yoga students, friends… and I also didn’t want to invite an infection, myself. On March 24th, ten days after I stopped working, That Woman from Michigan (our nerves of steel Governor Whitmer) banned all non-essential services from operating (“essential services” clarified as meaning, “if it’s not life or death, it’s not an essential service”). Maybe we’ll get unemployment, someday. Several of my colleagues are raring, and several are desperate to go back to work, but I just don’t see it happening — yes, we’re between a rock and a hard place, but we CAN’T go back without looking at the whole picture, not just our need to make a living, not just how we’re going to shield our clients from ourselves, and us from our clients – NOT just “sanitation”. Michigan’s massage licensing board has said not a word about this – nothing; zip.
You have raised many very important issues that most massage therapists I know are not even considering. I’ve shared your post with graduates from my massage school, with my AMTA Michigan chapter, and with AMTA itself. Thank you again, Tracy.
Sharon Burch says
Wonderful article, Tracy. Kudos to you for taking such a strong stand and articulating it so clearly! I’m a nurse and not doing massage anymore but I’ll share this widely with my friends who are. Namaste.
I live in south Florida, and today the governor announced that spas will be re-opening on Monday. I’m absolutely terrified, just thinking about starting to do massage. I don’t think it’s safe, not for me, not for the clients. If I don’t show up to work, I may loose my job and my health insurance.
I’m a massage therapy customer who came upon this thread. I’m wondering why you can’t be creative and think of ways to make your profession more social distancing-friendly. As a customer, I would be willing to give up the “ideal” massage, like I get now, and temporarily accept things like: I must wear clothes during massage/no skin to skin contact (i would bring soft comfortable clothes with me, put them on before getting on table and remove and place in bag immediately off table and wash At home); While laying on the table, my head and face area rests on the other side of a “curtain” protecting me from therapists breath and protecting therapist from my breath ( and also we both wear masks); no face or head area is worked on; windows and doors are left open for maximum ventilation; etc, etc. or even outdoor massages. These might not be the greatest ideas, but experts in your industry need to develop some creative safety protocols! You can do it!
Heidi Wahlgren says
Thank you so much Tracy this is what I needed to read this morning as massage therapist reopen in my community and I feel pressure to do so. I know that it is way too soon to open and your blog gives me the reassurance I need to remain closed. Thank you again and sending love to our MT community.
Exactly on point! It’s about keeping everyone safe! It’s just unfortunately not time. I only hope everyone who reads this lets it soak in, it’s not just about the therapist it’s about the whole picture. Thank you for this.
BC WA says
The 99% (us) are disposable human beings by the 1% (those who hold concentrated wealth & power). Why not rush to re-open? It’s just the plebeians after all!
All those (white) people with scary guns protesting at various state capitals were chumps doing the unpaid grunt work of those who view us as profit/cost centers and little more. Not grassroots. Astroturf!
Atiq Zabinski, LMT says
Do you know of any online petitions to the State Governors demanding they order massage businesses stay closed? If not, let’s start one.
With profound gratitude, thank you so much for writing this and taking leadership. Our community is supporting your writing and now I am asking you to take your leadership to the next level. You have our trust, please do not let this opportunity go by. As mentioned, we have no union. We have no strong voice. We need you to help us fight back. Let us start with the petition someone suggested. I am begging you to continue your leadership.
Thank you for brilliantly laying out the truth, Tracy! My MT employer was so eager to reopen, she wanted to do it after only shutting down for a week. I dissuaded her then, and coworkers and I dissuaded her again until she was determined to open because SHE wanted to return to work. The estheticians, the other front desk person, one MT(there are 3, incl boss), and me (front desk) were extremely hesitant because it’s still not safe. But supposedly the “protections” as Tracy mentioned were put in place and the death games began on May 4.
Fortunately I’m at the “elderly” age who can stay home until June 12 (Georgia) and I am. I do not trust this governor nor the boss to keep me healthy and alive. My life is in MY hands and I value it.
I am grateful that this important piece was written and I will share it appropriately. Thank you again!
Danielle P says
WOW awesome, this needs to be sent to every Governor in every state.
I found this thread by googling how I’m supposed to practice social distancing as a stretch therapist.
Thank you, this is exactly how I feel!
Harry R says
Tracy, while I respect your comments, I feel you are not representing the entire picture. First and foremost, there are safe ways to interact with clients and co-workers. I have been a licensed massage therepist for 20 years and have been through otherhealth issues, from SARS to the common cold and, yes, even the yearly reoccurance of the flu which kills over 60,000 people in the US each year. I am healthy and have never contarcted anything from my clients. Unless you are acticting carelessly, it IS SAFE to massage. The CDC guidelines are simple and straight-forward. The virus is introduced thru eyes, nose and mouth, not your hands. Wear a mask and wash your hands. I don’t know about you, but I am not going to touch my face or put my hands in my mouth when covered in massage oil. I am not asking to law to be chainged to force terapists to return to work but stop trating us like children. We know the precautions and have clients that are in desperate need of our services. I speak to other therapists on a regular basis and if we do not return to work, we are going to loose our houses and cars to the bank. Yes, I have no problem with regulations requiring us to be safe but to bankrupt us unnecessarlly is not just illegal but immoral.
NEPHYR A JACOBSEN says
Thank you so much for all you are doing to spread sanity and caution and for speaking out to the need for therapists to be protected and able to earn unemployment. I’m a bit of a broken record on this, but I will not engage in teaching or practicing bodywork until:
1. We have widespread reliable infection testing
2.. We have widespread reliable antibody testing
3. We know for certain that antibodies give lasting immunity
4. We have a reliable treatment
5. We have a vaccine or other preventative.
Right now we have none of these things.
Thank you! Right on point! I wrote to my state Governor a few weeks ago reiterating these same points, urging him to consider the level of contact for massage, and to NOT give the green light to re-open massage establishments or services any time soon.
There’s a huge difference between “living in fear” and “walking in wisdom”.
I will not re-open my practice at this time; I do not want to perpetuate risky behavior; I do not want to risk transmission of a deadly virus through close physical contact, or shared face cradle contact (even if that face cradle is dipped in gasoline between clients)…
We each have to follow the dictates of our own hearts. My motto:
“Help whenever possible, but above else, do no harm…”
Angie Ward says
Thank you so much. I am a self-employed massage therapist here in Oklahoma. I’m scared to reopen. I myself have an autoimmune disease. Also have asthma. I have a daughter-in-law who has cancer. Too many people I know and love are compromised.
There is nothing here in Oklahoma that mentions specifically massage therapy. I even called our governing board today which is the Cosmetology and Barbering Board. She said that there has been nothing specific about massage therapy put out in Oklahoma. My own governing board has no information to give me. I know that under the recent openings that Spas are included. But there is nothing specifically mentioned about massage therapy. So your article was very helpful to me. That’s what my gut has been telling me this whole time. Thank you again. Stay safe and be well.
Yes, in Oklahoma, if you checkout the stalwart AMTA chapter site, you’ll find the latest news article dated October 2017, and it’s on carpooling.
MTs need a union or a professional guild. The current “leadership” organizations are nothing more than cash cows.
Good luck to you, Angie. Stay safe.
I agree with you. The risk is very high and there is much more than we do not know about the behaviour and development of the coronavirus we are dealing with.
As a Licensed massage therapist and nail technician I am very aware of the risk. I am in South Florida, where the epicentre of the pandemic is in Florida.
I have been unable to work for more than 2 months , I am self employed, and before the pandemic I had a volume between 2 to 5 ( average) services a day between MT and Nails … and worked in different locations.
When the close down hit, it did hit me, the unemployment application is a nightmare, the system collapsing non stop… I don’t have to pay rent for a salon, but I have to keep paying rent, bills and support my family…
My financial situation is quite bad as it is for most of us.
Despite clients calling me begging me to treat them, I politely rejected…. and then my own clients started to call me to ask me why I was not working while they knew of other MT and cosmetologist doing house calls?!!
Many people without even a license in Massage therapy and cosmetology started to offer services for about half the price or less…
I educated my clients but how many I did not reach?, Now we are supposed to go back to business on the 18 and yes, it is not safe.
Above all we must be united and clear:
No one should be working under the table because that is dangerous, cheating, unethical and unfair.
We all should report unlicensed activity AND the authorities MUST really DO SOMETHING about it.
LAWS MUST PROTECT OUR INCOME AND PROFESSION
More help should be available for all of us, not just the salon owners. I work, I pay taxes, I pay for my education, CEUS and licensing, association membership fees, and so on, but I feel very much without help and without hope…
I am seeking for information on all of the above and I cannot find it.
I have reported unlicensed activity and nothing has been done, despite of graphic evidence.
I am trying to apply for unemployment and I cannot even log into the system nor talk to a person.
I cannot help but wonder what are my chances? Should I risk it and work ? or should I continue going deeper into financial and emotional depression ?.
Beth L. Alford says
UGH, I feel ya. I too am in the same boat. No unemployment, and an owner who has never closed her doors due to “needing money” I have repeatedly called everyone “of importance” (I thought” that might try to get her to close her doors to help stop the spread, but to no avial, now she has beat the system, and we can now return to work. But I have high anxiety about the circumstances about our job. Too many risk factors. UGH, I wish the pandemic was more under control, or there really was a vaccine, maybe then I would feel like going back to work. I NEED TO, WANT TO, just NOT FEELING TOO SAFE.
Talya Solomon says
Message Therapy is all I’v bin doing for 22 years . I’ve never bin able to hold another job successfully that pays a living wage and don’t have enough money to stop working altogether with no end in site . Its admirable to take this moral stance but not realistic for everyone .
Dear Tracy, you were one of my favorite instructors at Muscular Therapy Institute 26 years ago. After closing my office on March 16 and reading your recent blog posts I’ve been reflecting on the career I’ve put so much into. It is so difficult coming to terms with what we’ve all lost. As Diana Thompson wrote, I’ve been feeling “the tug” to start up if and when we have the green light to practice again. I don’t think I can…not until many more benchmarks are cleared. Given the current leadership that could be a LONG time coming.
In addition to the many sobering points you bring up, I’ve seen and heard too many other upsetting things of late. Half the people I see outside are not masked and are not social distancing. I recently heard of someone visiting a local chiropractor and staring in disbelief as his previous patient exited the treatment room unmasked. The chiropractor was unmasked as well but grudgingly offered to wear one if this next patient requested. The patient sprinted for the exit instead. An acupuncturist has a colleague who is temporarily employed as a contact tracer. She was horrified to learn that many of her interviewees were in fact NOT quarantining – and blithely recounted their many trips outside for groceries, etc.
The kicker for me was hearing of a funeral home worker’s horror stories of prepping the bodies of Covid victims and finding that their blood had congealed into something resembling chili. Nope, nope, nope…I’ll be riding this out until the science assures us that it’s the right time to reopen.
You said exactly and beyond what I was thinking! I’m a LMT and I greatly appreciate your words !
Bravo!! Thank you!! I agree! Tracy, iI hope you write more for our community. I would love to hear this kind of support from AMTA.
Vincent Carbaugh says
Thank you so much for this letter. I practice in Long Beach, California and just this morning someone someone on social media told me that she knows therapists who have stayed open. That they called their county and told them they were critical care and allowed to remain open which I know is false.
I closed my practice temporarily since March 14th. I am of the mindset that, we are essential for true health but can not and should not practice right now.
Some clients are angry that I will not see them . They think it is getting “ridiculous. Your words have given me strength and support to stay strong and stay closed. Thank you for your commitment and support for all of us in the massage therapy community.
When things are operational again, I would love to study with you.
Your 100% right. I wish I could afford not to work until it was safe again. But like you mentioned in your article most of us MT’s don’t have a lot of savings. It sucks having to make that personal decision to put your life on the line and go back to work or to financially struggle. I made the decision to go back to work, and I’m terrified to go back.
To all you MTs stay healthy and safe. I hope your all well and that you don’t have to choose between your health and money.
THANK YOU for writing this and writing it so well. I am a massage therapist who feels exactly as you do. I see my fellow therapists rushing back headlong into work and I send them the scientific reporting that advises against it. I know they need the income as do I but I am not willing to risk my life and that if my clients for that. Maybe they aren’t concerned for themselves (I don’t understand) but they have a responsibility, particularly as a health care provider) to ensure the safety of their clients, not to mention the health of the family members they go home to. You make an excellent point about forming a coalition and putting pressure on governmental offices. How else can we protect ourselves, our businesses, our incomes, and the health and welfare of our clients?
Paul Stevenson says
Tracy, thank you for sharing your thoughts.
I hear often that we need to choose between economy or life… and I profoundly disagree.
Right now the word is divided between those who understand that we have entered in a ‘new normal’ that contains a new risk factor, and those who are just in denial, stuck at home, believing that we can’t do anything until the corona virus disappear of our lives… Well, flash news: the corona virus is here to stay, maybe it will mutate and will be less dangerous (who knows) but it won’t go anywhere. And, an effective vaccine might take 12 to 18 months to arrive; even then, it might not be available for everybody immediately. Yes, more testing can be an option earlier…. but are you expecting to test everybody everyday to make sure that we are all ‘clean’ 24/7?
So, now what? I guess that Tracy can basically shut down her education business, since no LMT will work in the next 2 to 3 years… because that infectious virus will still be there. Hold on, but not only this profession… also the hairdressers should find another job, and chiropractors, and physical therapists…. and hygienists. Forget to go to any restaurant to dine-in until we get a vaccine. Forget to take a flight or any public transportation anymore, sitting near another passenger for hours….
Of course, we can cancel the Massage Therapy profession right now; by reading some of the comments above, it seems that this is what some members of the profession are suggesting. I, for once, think that our profession is essential these days and I believe that the responsible thing to do it’s not spreading fear and suggest to stay stuck at home but to try to move on. When I say move on, I don’t mean to come back recklessly as if nothing had happened. Of course, we need to assess if the curve has been bent in our community and if our authorities are implementing enough testing and tracing: a realistic assessment not a hysteric one.
From our side we need to adjust our protocols to the new situation: yes the Corona Virus is highly contagious but there are simple and easy ways to minimize the risk:
-We will not see symptomatic clients because we will pre-screen them
-We might treat asymptomatic clients (who can spread the virus): as someone said above, if we clean our hands before and after the treatment, wear a mask (we can even ask the client to put her mask on when she faces up), and disinfect the room in between clients, the risk of being infected is very, very low…. perhaps lower than a trip to the grocery store
No intention to offend anyone, just giving an alternative point of view that (I believe) represents many of the silent majority of massage therapist.
r c n says
I understand that this is addressed to owners of high-volume massage therapy settings, and appreciate your post. I’d like your opinion on self-employed massage therapists re-opening their small private practices. My massage therapist is re-opening the last week in May. I trust her and know she’ll take necessary precautions but remain torn about whether I should get that massage – and am leaning toward cancelling my appointment. What do you think? Thanks.
Beth L. Alford says
I have been an LMT for 12 yrs now. I have mostly been an independent contractor, but I have done the corporate thing. The place I have been working for now as an IC, (little over a year now) has NEVER closed their door during this pandemic. The owner of the place has called me repeatedly to come in and work on my clients. I have refused, NOT ONLY because I have filed for unemployment, and her giving me cash while waiting to be accepted is wrong, but also it was against the law to be open. For over 2 months now and countless calls, I have finally (I think) gotten it through her head that I WILL NOT come in to work until I KNOW for sure I am allowed. Now that they are saying “We CAN re-open” I am at a divide. As much as I love what I do, and want to and NEED to work, I still feel it is much to soon for all the contact, close quarters, and uncertainties out there to return. I am almost at a panic, high anxiety about this. This pandemic is far from gone, the numbers rise everyday. I do not want to be part of the problem…I took that oath to “DO NO HARM” and the people telling us to go back, just don’t get it. How do you feel?
Angie Garofalo says
Great article. Are there any alternatives to massage therapists wearing gowns (other than changing clothes between patients)? I was researching DermaShield. What are your thoughts?
Joselyn B says
Thank you for this post. It means that I am no alone. I just lost my booth at the salon I work at because I was hesitant to go back yet. I was JUST starting to build my client base and now M wondering what I’m going to do and where I’m going to go in my small town with few options and closed minds on this sort of thing.
THANK YOU SO VERY MUCH for not making me feel like I’m alone in this confusing boat of ours. I understand completely about no money and pay check to pay check. So being a single mom, I understand both sides of this. However, I need to be extra careful so that I can take care of my kids and that means starting with MY health. If I’m taking care of everyone else’s needs how can I take care of myself and the kids. What makes me shake my head is that we are having contactless money (everyone uses their cards) yet it’s ok to touch people, their skin, their clothes and remember we are bringing toxins to the surface through the skin. That means lots of toxins in an enclosed area circulating in a small area. I have someone that freaks out about any other ailments that they could contract but allowing us to touch skin is ok by her. They should all be touching ALL of the bodies and in the room with every client we are working on and we all see in the spa! Maybe that will make them think otherwise. I understand overreacting but as of right now this is not. (MY OPINION ONLY!) This is prevention! Now if we have been “flattening the curve” so to speak and its been enough time given to test people and the rates are lower and we are still not wanting to go back then I FEEL that’s a different story! But I FEEL it’s TOO EARLY to go back. We are ALL entitled to our opinions and everyone perception is correct because it’s their own but let’s do look at the research and take precautions otherwise people will be saying, I should’ve listened or taken more precautions!” or might even have to say “good bye!” I have so much more on my heart but I will leave it at that.
Well except for THANK YOU TRACY FOR STANDING UP FOR ALL OF US WHO FEEL THE SAME AS YOU DO IN TAKING PRECAUTIONS. THANK YOU FOR BEING A LOUD VOICE. I Speak nothing but life and blessings to everyone in their life, their situations, their success, into their finances but mostly into their health. Stay safe y’all! Build your immune system and take the accurate precautions. Much love n respect for everyone and their hearts and their intentions.
Not all places are hit hard by Corona. Mainly states up north. 8 northern states make up 60k of the 90k total USA corona deaths. Some cities are barely hit at all. Even many large cities barely have a corona problem. Look at the death numbers for yourself. Not every business needs to act like they are 1 breath away from killing all their clients. This is fear mongering not based in reality. If you are in a hard hit area you need to be beyond careful. But many people are in cities that are doing ok.
Hi Tracy, Your article has allowed many MT’s to express how we are feeling about the pandemic whether we agree with each other or not. There hasn’t been a lot of support from our governing bodies. Thanks for letting us comment about your views. I have been a Massage Therapist since 1992 in Illinois. I do house calls. I am not happy about the massage industry reopening for many reasons.
1. There is no such thing as social distancing in massage. My office is the clients home. I have no control over the space.
2. The massage motto “do no harm” applies.
3. We have no clue yet, if once infected we have immunity. We also need 50-60% of the US population to become infected for herd immunity to take effect. That means millions of death.
4. ASYMPTOMATIC and presymptomatic shedding.
5. Massage is CONTRAINDICATED for flu and fever.
Because of Asymptomatic shedding and not enough hard data on immunity all massages should be contraindicated at this point.
6. We have no clue how massage is going to interact and affect our client if they are covid positive.
7. If we get the virus our business is going to be shut down even longer.
8. Even with strict cleaning protocol’s are we willing to possibly spread the covid to our clients? Will they trust us in the future? Will we be liable? The media just named a hair salon the other day. Will it close our business down permanently if people get infected?
We all have to take Ethics courses for licensing and our governing guidelines. This is the perfect Ethics course. Contraindications, pathology. I feel like my governing body did not rise to the occasion during the pandemic.
Are we truly “essential” workers as some Mt’s have stated? I don’t consider myself a 24/7 emergency service. Will our clients die if they don’t see us for several months? They might if we go back to work now. The work we do is important but at what risk.
I know some clients are ready to get back to their appointments but are we ready and possibly willing to expose them and their loved ones to a virus that can range from mild symptoms to death. I’m not so sure I’m willing. What sticks with me is an interview with a covid patient who wasn’t in the hospital. He described the virus, ” it was like drowning on dry land.” I hope I never experience that or make someone feel that way.
With that being said, the financial impact on a lot of us has been horrifying. I’ve already used up my savings. When the Governor’s open our states many of us won’t have the option to do what’s best for ourselves and our clients if staying at home a little longer is our choice. It’s not about hiding in our houses in fear. It’s about facts and all the facts aren’t in. Am I willing to receive a massage or get my hair cut right now? No! If I spread the virus even with all the guidelines can I live with that? I also live in a covid hotspot. Because the rest of the states numbers are decreasing, it averages out that the whole state will partially reopen May 29. That doesn’t make me feel safe.
It’s inevitable that we won’t all agree on opening or staying closed so good luck on whatever choice you make. Stay safe, stay healthy.
Perfect Tracy! Thank you for your well written explanation. We can email this to our employers who still don’t get it. Much appreciated!
Thank you very much for voicing these important points.
Day spas are classified under the business code 812199 which includes other services such as depilatory or electrolysis (i.e., hair removal) salons, saunas, ear piercing services, steam or Turkish baths and tanning salons. This means that, in the state I work in, day spas will be allowed to open in Phase 3. The close and sustained contact of massage therapy is incompatible with social distancing, no matter the precautions taken. I am gravely concerned about returning to work.
I wish you health and safety.
Carrie Duke, LMT says
Thank you Tracy,
Im familiar with your words, and name through the massage practitioners, and Covid19 Facebook group. I really appreciate you writing this. I opened up my own massage practice in my home only a year ago. I’m beyond devastated after 20 years in our industry. I will not open until it’s safe. Still when will safe be? I’m in denial as I buy everything I could possibly need to be as safe as possible in the future. A lot is on backorder. I bought plastic vinyl runners for covering my carpeted floor, and around my table . Once they were down I stood there and just laughed. This is not going to stop the virus from ruining my life, and my family’s life. These runners might work when covid 19 is on its way out and gone for ongoing safety.
It just all hit me . This is a joke. It’s just not safe. Hey it least I tried .. I’m prepared for when our world is safe again. I’m unemployed and just spend a lot of money on all of this to realize that non of this will save us, or our clients from getting the virus. I’m waiting it out as I’ve said before. I’m not a gambler. I’m also not a puppet our country can test out the opening phases with to see what could possibly happen. All the protocol for opening phases state to stay at least 6 feet away….
Again thank you for standing up for us and making me not feel crazy .
Laura Yates LMT says
Please add links to this letter, so it can go viral on social media platforms. A share button to send to Facebook.
Time is running out. Our place is opening in 2 days and our concerns are falling on deaf ears.
Thank you for such a beautiful article.
Pamela Pollack says
Wow, thank you for this! I’ve been conflicted about reopening my private practice, mostly because of pressure from clients! This clarifies a lot, and validates that my hesitation is reasonable.
Excellent points. So do you propose these same standards should apply during each annual flu season where 50-70K people die each year?
In other words – should massage close down for 4-6 months of each year?
If not, then could you please explain why not.
Are Covid deaths more “valid” than flue deaths?
While folks are waiting to be perfectly safe, make sure you do not get in a car and drive your car anywhere. Stay in your homes until 2022. It will be safe by then…maybe.
Myrca Augustin says
Thank you for touching all the points. I even was thinking about delaying.
Erin Lambert Hartman says
I published an article calling for research and risk analysis in our industry. If our trade associations, franchises, schools, and spas are going to sanction these experiments, then we should at least have the decency to document the results. We should know our deaths, our rates of infection, etc. We need to document and study the consequences of our actions so future generations can learn from our mistakes.
i was a massage therapist for 14 years. i am soooooooo glad that i am not one any more. unfortunately if you work as an employee, often safety is not a requisite + greed is rampant. my last job was at a high volume spa + i would routinely witness fellow massage therapists perform a massage + then go into the break room + eat out of a bag of chips without even washing their hands … it was horrible. management didn’t care if therapists were sick + often bullied them into working. clients were not screened properly + i had so many with mysterious rashes, blisters, wounds, etc … again, horrible. this was a very high priced spa in california btw. i feel bad for massage therapists that are dealing with this, good luck + stay safe.
Hi everyone. I googled ” Massage Therapists that don’t want to return to work during COVID” and this link popped up. I’m glad I found and read that a lot of you feel the way that I do, that it is still unsafe to return to work. A lot of Massage Therapists in social media groups that I’m part of are so excited to get back to work. I haven’t seen one person express their feelings, or as I’ve seen other people here write, the lack of common sense here. We’ve been told to date that the less contact you have with people and keep your distance from, the better off you are and have a much better chance of staying healthy. As a Massage Therapists we physically cannot avoid doing those major two things at all!! Plus the fact that we are in small rooms for a long duration of time! I’m in NY and I do trust our governor and there is 50k tests being done daily. However, I just can’t help feeling because of the nature of our profession and all the hands on contact, that we should have an extension of closures. Unfortunately we don’t have the option of working from home safely on a computer. At this time, Massage is a luxury in my mind and isn’t more important than my life or the life of my family. Unfortunately I’m left with the tough decision of not being able to pay my bills if I take a leave of absence or quit or have to play Russian Rhoulette with this virus & the potential of contracting it. Great feeling!!!
Great article!! This is exactly a social experiment and its grotesque!
We were removed from unemployment to be sent back on payroll for less money!! So the owner gets to keep her share. On behalf of our backs.
I am amazed at how they are so blatantly turning a blind eye. Letting elder vulnerable clients in and exposing massage therapist everyday to a virus that can be airborne.
Tracy, thank you for posting this! We as MTs need to be advocating for each other. Where are the National Board and the organizations we pay to be a part of that take our $ for membership, literally where are they!?? Guess they’re not even trying to have our backs and let governors know this is unsafe,and reopening too soon! Also, my manager called me last week trying to get me in said ” we’re reopening on May 25 and how do you feel about it?”. I was honest and said what I feel. All I got was” you can’t stay on UI forever”… (like this is a national pandemic idiot ) I also wasn’t too thrilled when I found out clients will not be expected to wear a mask while prone….. WTF?! Where do our rights come into play I want to know. If I’m doing my part wearing a mask then I expect my clients to respect me enough too as well!!
Thank you so much for answering all the questions I’ve been asking myself for the last 2 months. I have now decided to take a sabbatical for at least 6 months and maybe longer , but keeping my license current , because I love the work I do and miss my clients. Thanks again for clarifying the current situation We are all in …..
Thank you for posting this important message. And look how it’s resonating. Massage therapists are coming together here in a way I personally have never seen anywhere before. This is good.
I’ve often thought massage professionals could use a union to collectively bargain in what is a multi-billion dollar resort and spa industry. Perhaps it’s time. The spa industry wants to turn massage therapists into front-line workers when they can’t guarantee safety. It’s reckless.
I just had a massage – well not a normal one. I live in FL in a county not very affected from the virus. Double digits cases and 8 deaths. All deaths seniors and compromised by heath issues. I had to wear a mask as did he. My normal MT has chosen not to come back. It was HORRIBLE! I have never fainted or near fainted, still feel nauseous. Was hot the whole time. The mask made me regret going or paying. They upped the prices (I understand) and they do no faves , hands, arms. MT pressure felt like he was scared. It was the worst experience. I will continue to suffer and wait this out.
I don’t have the answer because not one of us knows the ‘right’ thing to do right now.
That includes you.
This much I do know for a fact –
‘During an outrage, your best approach is to be outraged’ is completely wrong.
Jessica Melzer says
I can’t thank you enough for writing this! I feel the same way….. I am slated to return to the spa on July 20th . I am home schooling my daughter through summer school and struggling to find any child care options with my husband being in an on-call position as a plant operator I am backed into a corner I can not get out of. In all honesty I don’t want to be either. This is a terrifying situation. A Spa environment is the perfect breeding ground for this with clients more often than not, actually being on vacation. I can’t say I feel safe anywhere. So we stay put and stay in our close knit community. Financially its taxing , however the anxiety being birthed of the entire situation is far beyond anything that I want to have to continue to deal with here at home never mind going to work. How can I came home and have any contact with my family in good conscience? I have never called out once and I love my job but I don’t think I will be able to return in good conscience ….
Mary Petacchi says
So well said ! I returned to work for one day and almost passed out from the heat of the face mask, the extra PPE and the lack of a fan in the room. I could not finish my shift. Guess what? I was fired and my unemployment was cut off. Now what ?!
Owen Langdon says
Your blog post is really important and useful to growth a websites. Thanks for sharing
If you don’t feel you can operate safely then don’t re-open or book a service-it’s that simple. I’m in the UK, I know that I CAN and DO operate extremely safely and myself and my clients ARE protected and much more than if they went about their day to day life in offices, supermarkets and on public transport etc. People like you only serve to spread unnecessary fear and it’s really starting to annoy me.
Sandy Weiner says
I am the oldest therapist in the franchise location in Spring Lake, NJ.. I have HBP, autoimmune illness resulting 2 years ago from a coughing-in-my-face-client. So I am contra-indicated and told Tracy I was faced with retiring or continuing in the profession I so dearly pursue. She told me it was an especially hard decision to make. I took a deep breath and chose to continue, as of June 15, with every safeguard available from my employer… extra 15 minutes to sanitize and air dry my room; laundry bag provided to remove linens to laundry area after each client; paper face masks provided, gloves if wanted; multiple stations with hand sanitizing products; clients screened with a Covid form and temperature scan; HVAC and ultraviolet filters installed, all from a caring, concerned employer. The rest is up to me.. I TALK to clients before settling into massage. I THINK ahead of time about what I have to do to protect them and myself… I chose to return and I proceed with caution . I have had 3 six-month post Covid clients who revealed their health status to me personally and not on a health questionnaire that maybe didn’t ask the pertinent questions. I proceed daily with care and caution. I refuse to be intimidated by scary thoughts and negative therapists around me. I research daily any necessary updates . Stay positive and be safe, everyone… and thank you Tracy, for your kind words.