New York officials released a number of new guidelines dentists and patients must follow.

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Below are guidelines dentists and patients must follow in order to reopen, according to New York State Forward:

Physical Distancing

  • Ensure 6 ft. of distance between individuals, unless safety or core function of the work activity requires a shorter distance (e.g. provision of care during dental visits and procedures).
  • Modify or restrict access to any waiting area seating, as needed, to allow for 6 ft. of distance between individuals in all directions (e.g. spacing chairs, instructing people to sit in alternating chairs).
  • Ensure adequate social distancing in small areas, such as restrooms and breakrooms, with appropriate signage and systems (e.g. flagging when occupied) to restrict occupancy.
  • Limit in-person employee gatherings (e.g. meetings) as much as possible.

Protective Equipment

  • Ensure that patients and accompanying visitors wear face coverings at all times when in the dental facility (including in elevators, lobbies, and waiting areas), except when undergoing dental procedures. Acceptable coverings include at minimum cloth face coverings or surgical masks that securely cover nose and mouth.
  • Procure an adequate supply of necessary PPE and provide employees with acceptable and appropriate PPE at no-cost to the employee.
  • DHCP must wear appropriate PPE when providing care to patients, in accordance with appropriate OSHA standards, including surgical masks, eye protection, gloves, and protective clothing, when performing any dental procedures that do not generate aerosols.
  • For aerosol generating procedures, providers should wear a properly fit-tested, NIOSH-certified, disposable N95 or higher-rated respirator, eye protection (e.g. goggles, face shield) gloves, and gowns.
  • Establish policies for PPE removal and replacement for before and after DHCP see patients. DHCP must follow CDC recommendations for donning and doffing PPE. For example, when removing potentially contaminated PPE such as face mask or N95 respirator, do not touch the outside of the mask without wearing gloves. Always perform hand hygiene before and after using PPE.
  • Staff with duties unrelated to patient care, such as clerical staff, must also wear appropriate face coverings at all times.

Hygiene, Cleaning, and Disinfection

  • Adhere to hygiene and sanitation requirements from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Department of Health (DOH) and maintain cleaning logs on-site that document date, time, and scope of cleaning.
  • DHCP must wait at least 15 minutes after completion of dental procedures to allow potential contagious droplets to sufficiently fall from the air before beginning cleaning and disinfecting of surfaces in the dental operatory per CDC Guidance on Generation and Behavior of Airborne Particles.
  • Staff that clean and disinfect operatory must wear, at minimum, gloves, surgical mask, and eye protection, such as goggles or face shield.
  • Provide and maintain hand hygiene stations on site, including handwashing with soap, water, and paper towels, as well as an alcohol-based hand sanitizer containing 60% or more alcohol for areas where handwashing is not feasible.
  • Make hand sanitizer available throughout common areas. It should be placed in convenient locations, such as at entrances, exits, waiting areas.
  • Touch-free hand sanitizer dispensers should be installed where possible. Conduct regular cleaning and disinfection of the facility and restrooms, and more frequent cleaning and disinfection for high-risk areas used by many individuals and for frequently touched surfaces.
  • Ensure that equipment and tools are regularly cleaned and disinfected using hospital-grade disinfectants. Refer to the OSHA recommendations and the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) list of products registered in New York State and identified by the EPA as effective against COVID-19.
  • Provide for the cleaning and disinfection of exposed areas in the event an individual is confirmed to have COVID-19, with such cleaning and disinfection to include, at a minimum, all heavy transit areas and high-touch surfaces (e.g. elevators, waiting areas, entrances, badge scanners, restrooms handrails, door handles).
  • Place receptacles around the dental facility for disposal of soiled items, including PPE.
  • Prohibit shared food and beverages among employees (e.g. self-serve meals and beverages), encourage employees to bring lunch from home, and reserve adequate space for employees to observe social distancing while eating meals.

Communication

  • Affirm you have reviewed and understand the state-issued industry guidelines, and that you will implement them.
  • Institute a training plan to educate all staff on new practices and responsibilities before re-opening or expanding operations.
  • Post signs throughout the dental facility, consistent with DOH COVID-19 signage, reminding individuals to maintain physical distance, wear appropriate face coverings, follow hand hygiene and cough etiquette, and report symptoms of COVID-19.
  • Notify the state and local health departments immediately upon being informed of any positive COVID-19 test result by an DHCP at their facility.
  • Cooperate with state and local health department contact tracing efforts. Conspicuously post completed safety plans on the premises of the workplace.

Screening

  • Implement mandatory health screening practices (e.g. questionnaire, temperature check) for DHCP, patients, and visitors, asking about (1) COVID-19 symptoms in past 14 days, (2) positive COVID-19 test in past 14 days, and/or (3) close or proximate contact with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 case in past 14 days.
  • Immediately notify state and local health departments of confirmed positive cases and provide the individual with information on healthcare and testing resources.
  • Designate a central point of contact, which may vary by activity, location, shift or day, responsible for receiving and attesting to having reviewed all questionnaires, with such contact also identified as the party for individuals to inform if they later are experiencing COVID-19-related symptoms, as noted on the questionnaire.
  • Require DHCP to immediately disclose if they begin to experience symptoms, including outside of work hours.