Utah Governor Gary Herbert announced that dental practices can reopen and perform elective and other procedures, as long as adequate infection control practices are in effect, during his April 22 briefing. Full guidelines are available at coronavirus.utah.gov.
“You can perform really about any procedure that you were doing before the coronavirus and COVID-19 with some safety protocols and precautions in place. So it’s going to be back to very close to business as usual with some safety precautions and protocols,” he said.
For example, anyone who enters a healthcare facility must have their temperature taken. They also must complete a questionnaire asking about possible symptoms. People with symptoms related to COVID-19 may be asked to wait outside the office until personnel are ready to see them.
“Also, no more than one individual may accompany a patient, so you can’t bring your family with you. Just one individual can be there to escort you and help you,” Herbert said. “Everyone who comes into a healthcare facility will need to wear a mask when they’re within six feet of any other individual.”
Masks only may be removed when they interfere with the procedure taking place. Plus, toys, magazines, and other items must be removed from the waiting area, and visitors will not be allowed to congregate within or around the facility.
“This is not an exhaustive list of protocols. There will be some that will be tailor-made for the individual doctors, dentists offices that they have out there. But again, if you go to our webpage, it will give you more information about what you can and can’t do,” Herbert said.
Hospitals and surgery centers will see even more robust policies, including testing for COVID-19 before any kind of surgery. Patients who have questions are encouraged to work with their doctors and healthcare providers to get additional information.
“I appreciate the fact that doctors, medical health providers throughout our state, dentists, have worked very closely with us to help us develop these policies and put them in place,” Herbert said.
“They’re rational, they’re common-sensible, and they’re going to help us find that balance and make sure that we can open up again this part of our economy and yet not risk the health of those that we associate with,” he said.
“Again, I feel really good about what we’re asking people to do and how we’re going about doing this,” Herbert said, adding that the state’s major hospitals, hospital associations, and healthcare providers are reporting that they have enough personal protective equipment for the near term, enabling the state’s relaxation of restrictions.
“This does not mean that the pandemic is over. This is just a step in the direction of recovery. And it’s a good step, but it’s just a small step. We will continue to monitor the data,” Herbert said.
“Data is what’s driving us. It’s not fear. It’s not politics. We see both of those out in the marketplace today. We’re being driven by data and trying to find again that right balance point,” he said, adding that adjustments will be necessary if infection rates go up and supplies go down.