SDDS Shares Coronavirus (COVID-19) Advisories

 

March 5, 2020

 

In an effort to keep our membership alerted to the latest advisories concerning the 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak here in the US, we’d like to share a number of advisories that were put together for you by the staff at the New York State Dental Association. Some of the information comes directly from the ADA, with FAQs and referrals to government agencies for assistance.

 

Diseases that are not capable of being protected against by bloodborne pathogen standards, like active, unmanaged tuberculosis or novel coronavirus, warrant medical referral and rescheduling dental treatment due to the risk of public contagion. Novel coronavirus is also a reportable public health condition to the New York State Department of Health. The NYSDA blog has carried the latest CDC updates and guidance on novel coronavirus for the last three weeks (people just need to search for "coronavirus") and the homepage of the New York State Department of Health at: https://www.health.ny.gov/diseases/communicable/coronavirus has all the guidance members will need on the novel coronavirus, including a hotline to call for advice/information. The NYSDA Blog is available in the members only content at www.nysdental.org.

 

There is a significant amount of information here. It is incumbent upon you to spend some time and read the information made available by the ADA, including a letter to all member dentists from ADA President Dr. Chad Gehani. But for starters, take note of the following NYSDA communication developed by Dr. Terrence Thines, Professor and Chief of Service, Division of Dentistry from SUNY Upstate Medical University, paying particular attention to the last two paragraphs:

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex M. Azar II has declared a public health emergency for the entire United States to aid the nation’s healthcare community in responding to 2019 novel coronavirus. "While this virus poses a serious public health threat, the risk to the American public remains low at this time, and we are working to keep this risk low," Secretary Azar said.

 

This is a rapidly evolving situation and information is changing frequently. The Health Alert Network (HAN) for CDC Interim Guidance on the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) is available for updated. This is the most recent CDC guidance, but may be superseded as more is learned. Visit CDC’s page on the 2019 Novel Coronavirus for the most up-to-date information. There is also a specific page for Healthcare Professionals.

 

The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) may cause a respiratory illness with symptoms of fever, coughing and difficulty breathing. There is currently no vaccination to protect against COVID-19 or drugs to specifically treat the virus. The emergence of a new infectious disease reemphasizes the importance of vigilance relative to all aspects of infection control for dental healthcare workers. Dental specific information may be referenced at the CDC website. A PDF concerning infection control in the dental setting may be downloaded.

 

As patient appointments are being made and/or confirmed it would be prudent for front office personnel to solicit information about the well-being of the patient and recent travel. If it is determined that a patient may have an acute illness elective treatment should be deferred until the patient has recovered. If urgent dental treatment is necessary, dental and medical providers should work together to determine the appropriate precautions on a case-by-case basis to avoid the potential spread of diseases among patients, visitors, and staff. Because dental settings are not typically designed to carry out all of the Transmission-Based Precautions (airborne, droplet, or contact transmission) that are recommended for hospital and other ambulatory care settings, dental and medical providers will need to determine whether the facility is an appropriate setting for the necessary services for a potentially infectious patient.

 

As a general reminder the experts have said the best prevention against respiratory illness is the following:

  • Wash hands with soap and water frequently for or at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home if you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue or your sleeve, then throw the tissue in the trash

With that said, please view the ADA-provided information at the links below and be aware that this is an on-going development. More and refined information from CDC and NY State agencies will continue to become available.