With the global outbreak of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), the AAP has been diligently monitoring information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), World Health Organization (WHO), the American Dental Association (ADA), and state and local agencies, and will continue to share relevant news with the membership as expeditiously as possible.
At present, the AAP recommends that periodontists refer to, and monitor, all appropriate state and federal recommendations and guidance. As of March 16, the ADA recommends all dentists postpone elective procedures for the next three weeks. The CDC also recommends postponing routine dental care for the next several weeks, and has provided guidance specifically for dental professionals.
Continue to use evidence-based decision making in your practice to ensure your staff, your patients, and you remain healthy. Members are encouraged to visit the WHO's rolling updates page and the CDC’s COVID-19 page for the most up-to-date global and national information regarding the virus.
UPDATES FROM AAP PRESIDENT
- Enrolled Bill: Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act - signed into law 3/6/20
- Enrolled Bill: Families First Coronavirus Response Act - signed into law 3/18/20
- The CARES Act (Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act) is still pending in Congress.
According to the CDC, COVID-19 is spread person-to person through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. All healthcare facilities are urged to take necessary steps to prepare their practices for COVID-19. The WHO has also created a comprehensive COVID-19 Risk Communication Package For Healthcare Facilities.
Steps from the CDC to protect your workforce:
- Screen patients and visitors for symptoms of acute respiratory illness (e.g., fever, cough, difficulty breathing) before entering your healthcare facility. Keep up to date on the recommendations for preventing spread of COVID-19 on CDC’s website.
- Ensure proper use of personal protection equipment (PPE). Healthcare personnel who come in close contact with confirmed or possible patients with COVID-19 should wear the appropriate personal protective equipment.
- Conduct an inventory of available PPE. Consider conducting an inventory of available PPE supplies. Explore strategies to optimize PPE supplies.
- Encourage sick employees to stay home. Personnel who develop respiratory symptoms (e.g., cough, shortness of breath) should be instructed not to report to work. Ensure that your sick leave policies are flexible and consistent with public health guidance and that employees are aware of these policies.
Steps from the CDC to protect your patients:
- Stay up-to-date on the best ways to manage patients with COVID-19.
- Separate patients with respiratory symptoms so they are not waiting among other patients seeking care. Identify a separate, well-ventilated space that allows waiting patients and visitors to be separated.
- Consider the strategies to prevent patients who can be cared for at home from coming to your facility potentially exposing themselves or others to germs, like:
- Using your telephone system to deliver messages to incoming callers about when to seek medical care at your facility, when to seek emergency care, and where to go for information about caring for a person with COVID at home.
- Adjusting your hours of operation to include telephone triage and follow-up of patients during a community outbreak.
- Leveraging telemedicine technologies and self-assessment tools.
- Communicate with your patients and provide updates about changes to your policies regarding appointments, providing non-urgent patient care by telephone, and visitors. Consider using your facility’s website or social media pages to share updates.
Below are some additional helpful resources for members in private practice.
- ADA: Coronavirus Frequently Asked Questions
- ADA: The ADA Code of Ethics on COVID-19
- ADA: On-Demand Webinar on Infection Control in Light of COVID-19
- CDC: Interim U.S. Guidance for Risk Assessment and Public Health Management of Healthcare Personnel with Potential Exposure in a Healthcare Setting to Patients with Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19)
- CDC: Guidance for Healthcare Facilities: Preparing for Community Transmission of COVID-19 in the United States
- WHO: Healthcare Professional Preparedness Checklist For Transport and Arrival of Patients With Confirmed or Possible COVID-19
- American College of Surgeons: COVID-19: Recommendations for Management of Elective Surgical Procedures
Look to your state dental society for recommendations specific to your area.
For the most current information specific to your state, visit the CDC’s State & Territorial Health Department Websites, consult the Directory of Local Health Departments or contact your local dental association, state dental board, or local government office.
Misinformation about COVID-19 is spreading rapidly, and patients may look to you for guidance during this time. The CDC has developed a number of free communication resources that include handouts, factsheets, posters, and videos to provide to staff and patients. You can also direct them to the CDC’s FAQ Page for more detailed information.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, patients should be advised to practice the following habits:
- Wash your hands frequently
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash
- If possible, keep a distance of three feet between yourself and someone who is coughing, sneezing or has a fever.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth
- Stay home when you are sick
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe
- Phone ahead and inform the health center when you will visit if you have fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical care.
The Academy is closely monitoring the current situation of COVID-19 via the CDC and WHO. The AAP currently plans to move forward with the 106th Annual Meeting in Honolulu. Visit our Annual Meeting website for more information about registration and the current schedule of events.
The Hawaii Tourism Authority has provided helpful information regarding COVID-19: www.hawaiitourismauthority.org/news/alerts/covid-19-novel-coronavirus/
Consult the CDC’s updated travel notices based on the assessment of potential health risks.
Please direct questions about the Annual Meeting to email@example.com.
The following resources are available to help minimize the risk of transmission: