COVID

Governor Abbott Establishes Statewide Face Covering Requirement

Today, Governor Abbott issued an Executive Order which requires that a face mask shall be worn inside a commercial entity or when in an outdoor public space, wherever it is not feasible to maintain six feet of social distancing from someone not in your same household.  A person does not have to wear a face mask if: 

1)      a person is younger than 10 years of age;

2)      a person has a medical condition or disability that prevents wearing a face covering;

3)       a person is consuming food or drink, or is seated at a restaurant to eat or drink;

4)      a person is (a) exercising outdoors or engaging in physical activity outdoors, and (b) maintaining a safe distance from other people not in the same household;

5)      a person is driving alone or with passengers who are part of the same household as the driver;

6)      a person is obtaining a service that requires temporary removal of the face covering for security surveillance, screening, or a need for specific access to the face, such as while visiting a bank or while obtaining a personal care service involving the face, but only to the extent necessary for the temporary removal;

7)      a person is in a swimming pool, lake, or similar body of water;

8)      a person  is voting, assisting a voter, serving as a poll watcher, or actively administering an election, but wearing a face covering is strongly encouraged;

9)      a person is actively providing or obtaining access to religious worship, but wearing a face covering is strongly encouraged;

10)   a person is giving a speech for a broadcast or to an audience; or

11)   a person is in a county (a) that meets the requisite criteria the Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM) regarding minimal cases of COVID-19, and (b) whose county judge has affirmatively opted-out of this face-covering requirement by filing with TDEM the required face-covering attestation form—provided, however, that wearing a face covering is highly recommended, and every county is strongly encouraged to follow these face-covering standards.

A person in violation of the order can receive up to a $250 fine for each violation, however the first violation shall be issued a warning.  

Governor Abbott Issues Proclamation To Expand Hospital Capacity In Four Additional Texas Counties

Effective at midnight on July 1, the Governor has extended his executive order prohibiting certain non-essential surgeries and procedures to Nueces County, Cameron County, Webb County, and Hidalgo County.  Under this order, the Governor directs all hospitals in these counties to postpone surgeries and procedures that are not immediately, medically necessary to correct a serious medical condition or to preserve the life of a patient who without immediate performance of the surgery or procedure would be at risk for serious adverse medical consequences or death, as determined by the patient’s physician.

Nueces, Cameron, Webb, and Hidalgo counties join Bexar, Dallas, Harris and Travis county in this restriction. 

For Immediate Distribution  |  June 30, 2020  |  (512) 463-1826
Governor Abbott Issues Proclamation To Expand Hospital Capacity In Four Additional Texas Counties

AUSTIN – Governor Greg Abbott today issued a proclamation suspending elective surgeries at hospitals in Cameron, Hidalgo, Nueces, and Webb counties to help ensure hospital bed availability for COVID-19 patients in these communities. This proclamation amends the Governor’s previous Executive Order to include these four counties in addition to Bexar, Dallas, Harris, and Travis counties. 

“As these counties experience a surge in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, we are committed to working alongside hospitals to help ensure that every COVID-19 patient who needs a bed will have access to one,” said Governor Abbott. “We are constantly monitoring the data at the local level and will continue to take precautionary action where it is necessary. I want to remind all Texans that each of us have a responsibility to help slow the spread of this virus, and I urge everyone to wear a mask, wash their hands regularly, practice social distancing, and stay home if possible.” 

Under the Executive Order, the Governor directs all hospitals in these counties to postpone surgeries and procedures that are not immediately, medically necessary to correct a serious medical condition or to preserve the life of a patient who without immediate performance of the surgery or procedure would be at risk for serious adverse medical consequences or death, as determined by the patient’s physician. Through proclamation, the Governor can add or subtract from the list of counties included in the Executive Order to address surges in hospitalizations that may arise in other parts of the state.

Governor Abbott Issues Executive Order Expanding Hospital Capacity

Today, Governor Abbott issued Executive Order GA-27 that will limit elective surgeries at hospitals in Bexar, Dallas, Harris and Travis counties.  Under this order, the Governor directs all hospitals in these counties to postpone all surgeries and procedures that are not immediately, medically necessary to correct a serious medical condition or to preserve the life of a patient who without immediate performance of the surgery or procedure would be at risk for serious adverse medical consequences or death, as determined by the patient’s physician. 

At this time, the Executive Order only applies to four counties, however, additional counties can be added as hospital capacity is needed. 

For Immediate Distribution  |  June 25, 2020 |  (512) 463-1826
Governor Abbott Issues Executive Order Expanding Hospital Capacity
Order Suspends Elective Surgeries in Four Texas Counties 

AUSTIN – Governor Greg Abbott today issued an Executive Order to ensure hospital bed availability for COVID-19 patients as Texas faces an increase in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations. The Governor’s order suspends elective surgeries at hospitals in Bexar, Dallas, Harris, and Travis counties. Under this order, the Governor directs all hospitals in these counties to postpone all surgeries and procedures that are not immediately, medically necessary to correct a serious medical condition or to preserve the life of a patient who without immediate performance of the surgery or procedure would be at risk for serious adverse medical consequences or death, as determined by the patient’s physician.  

Through proclamation, the Governor can add or subtract from the list of counties included in the Executive Order to address surges in hospitalizations that may arise in other parts of the state. 

“As Texas faces a rise in COVID-19 cases, we are focused on both slowing the spread of this virus and maintaining sufficient hospital capacity for COVID-19 patients,” said Governor Abbott. “These four counties have experienced significant increases in people being hospitalized due to COVID-19 and today’s action is a precautionary step to help ensure that the hospitals in these counties continue to have ample supply of available beds to treat COVID-19 patients. As we work to contain this virus, I urge all Texans to do their part to help contain the spread by washing their hands regularly, wearing a mask, and practicing social distancing.”

N95 masks & PPE supplies

We want to share some options in response to the questions we received regarding PPE supplies.

The Department of State Health Services recently removed their restrictions on who could obtain PPE from the state. Now when a health care provider cannot obtain PPE from their vendors and has exhausted all options to obtain PPE and supplies are nearing depletion, the health care provider may submit a request to the state through a State of Texas Assistance Request (STAR) by working with their local emergency management office or disaster district coordinator. Contact your Texas District Coordinator to find out who your local emergency management representative is.

Please note that requests will be filled based on availability of supplies and are not guaranteed.

We were informed today that TDA members are eligible to order one box of 50 N95 respirators while supplies last. TDA members may begin ordering immediately. There will be a nominal fee of $40 for shipping and handling, plus credit card processing fees. Non-member dentists may begin ordering at 3:00 p.m. on Friday, May 29, 2020.

Please visit https://www.summitppe.com/ to place your order.

We will pass along any additional information we receive on PPE supplies.

Best,
TAPD Executive Board

TAPD Statement on Emergency Rule 22 TAC §108.7 (16)

Today, the Texas State Board of Dental Examiners (TSBDE) passed Emergency Rule  22 TAC §108.7 (16), which governs the reopening of dental practices in Texas. While this rule must go back to the governor for final approval, no changes are expected. We will post the official guidance to our social media and website when it posted in the Texas Register. 

Dentists should use 22 TAC §108.7 (16)  as official guidance for your practices during COVID-19. TSBDE advises you should not reopen your practice until you have the proper personal protection equipment (PPE).  

For additional guidance and recommendations, please utilize AAPD’s re-emergence checklist.  

TAPD thanks each of you for your feedback regarding reopening practices. Your recommendations were part of our correspondence with the TSBDE and the Governor’s Office. While you may begin practicing tomorrow, we hope you will do so in safe and prudent manner.  

Member Update 4.27.20

Dear Colleagues,

I hope you and your families and friends are well. As you have likely heard, Gov. Abbott announced the timeline for reopening dental practices today via Executive Order 19, which loosens restriction on health care professionals, including dentists. Dentists are permitted to re-open their practices on May 1, but must follow safety standards set out by the Texas State Board of Dental Examiners (TSBDE). We expect TSBDE to promulgate emergency rules dictating these minimum standards ASAP.

Last week, the Governor’s Strike Force to Reopen Texas contacted TAPD seeking recommendations concerning the timing and appropriateness of returning to practice. TAPD submitted a “best practice plan” for a safe reopening of dentistry. We have sent this plan to TSBDE as well.

In addition to this, I’d like to share some of the issues TAPD has actively addressed during the Covid-19 pandemic. As soon as the impact of this crisis on our patients, families and practices became clear, TAPD began working with the various agencies, boards, dental schools and the Governor’s Office to help facilitate a safe and reasonable policy for providing dental care to our population. The initial response was to establish parameters for treating emergencies and ensure the various regulators understood the need to provide truly emergent care. Both TSBDE and the Governor’s Office clearly stated that we should continue to provide emergent care.

Additionally, we sent a letter to TSBDE requesting an extension of CE, PALS and CPR requirements. TSBDE extended license expiration dates by three months for dentists, hygienists and dental assistants who were due for renewal in March, April and May of 2020.

TAPD also contacted MCNA, Dentaquest and TMHP to advocate for retrospective reviews of claims when we begin opening our practices to expedite procedures and avoid further delaying care. This process is ongoing and we will update you when we have more information to share.  We will also be asking the MCOs to raise our reimbursement fees to cover extra expenses associated with PPE. 

TAPD has been hard at work with literally hundreds of hours of meetings and communications with medical and dental specialists and our elected officials. The critical feedback we received from many of you has been instrumental in this process. I understand we are all eager to get back to work. Currently, our virtual TAPD General Assembly meeting is scheduled for Friday, May 15 at 1:00pm. Because the practice of dentistry will again be open at that time, we will adjust the scheduled meeting to accommodate the return to work. We will send out a new date and time very soon. It is more critical now than ever for us to have robust participation in our annual meeting.

This has been a difficult time for us all, but please know that our primary concern continues to be your safety, as well as that of your staff and patients. We know the pandemic is far from over and we will face obstacles moving forward. We are committed to continuing to advocate the best possible care for Texas children and for all of you.

Sincerely,
Refugio Gonzalez III, DDS
President, Texas Academy of Pediatric Dentistry

Guidance for TAPD Members on Latest Practice Restrictions

Gov. Greg Abbott has issued an executive order requiring all medical providersincluding dentists—to delay until midnight on April 21 “all surgeries and procedures that are not immediately medically necessary to preserve a patient’s life or avoid adverse medical consequences.” In accordance with this executive order and to alleviate the burden on hospital systems, the Texas State Board of Dental Examiners issued a directive saying “…It is imperative that dental clinicians care for emergency patients in a timely manner rather than referring them to emergency facilities.” Violating the governor’s order is punishable by a fine or jail time.

It is up to each dentist’s professional judgment to determine what constitutes a medically necessary situation (ie, dental emergency), and you are encouraged to consult The American Dental Association (ADA) Emergency Procedures Guide as a reference. If you have any questions regarding this order, the standard of care or a specific case, please contact the Texas State Board of Dental Examiners at licensinghelp@tsbde.texas.gov.

Everyone in the medical/dental community is working hard—and working together—to respond to this unprecedented crisis. TAPD Secretary Ben Morgan is collecting information regarding donations of medical supplies and personal protection equipment (PPE) in conjunction with the Texas Hospital Association. If you have any medical supplies or personal protection equipment you would like to donate to hospital workers, please email tapdben@gmail.com with your name, location and what supplies you have.

We know this is a difficult time for everyone and we hope this guidance helps answer the questions many of you have had. We are all in this together—please know that we are here to support you however we can. We will get through this together.

Dental Board Statement Regarding Gov. Abbott Executive Order

The following was issued by the Texas State Board of Dental Examiners:

In his press conference today, Governor Abbott issued an executive order restricting healthcare professionals and facilities.  According to the Executive Order No. GA-09, “beginning now and continuing until 11:59 p.m. on April 21, 2020, all licensed health care professionals and all licensed health care facilities shall postpone all surgeries and procedures that are not immediately medically necessary to correct a serious medical condition of, or to preserve the life of, a patient who without immediate performance of the surgery or procedure would be at risk for serious adverse medical consequences or death, as determined by the patient’s physician;”

“PROVIDED, however, that this prohibition shall not apply to any procedure that, if performed in accordance with the commonly accepted standard of clinical practice, would not deplete the hospital capacity or the personal protective equipment needed to cope with the COVID- 19 disaster.” 

Since the Governor is addressing a shortage of hospital capacity, it is imperative that dental clinicians care for emergency patients in a timely manner rather than referring them to emergency facilities.  The governor also pointed out in his comments that violation of executive orders could lead to potential fines and even jail time for those who do not comply.

COVID-19 Update

We are in unprecedented times and as much as we want concrete answers, COVID-19 is a fluid situation. TAPD continues to follow guidance from AAPD, ADA, TDA, the Texas State Board of Dental Examiners, the Governor’s Office and state and local public health authorities related to the latest information on COVID-19. 

Below is the latest guidance from AAPD:

The ADA has recommended that dentists postpone elective procedures for the next three weeks. A number of states have strongly recommended that dentists postpone non-emergency care as well. These ADA and state recommendations are consistent with AAPD’s statement of March 16. Children in need of urgent/emergency care should be treated, while elective care can be postponed. Urgent/emergency care means treatment of pain, swelling, trauma, and infection. Hygiene and prophylaxis visits, cosmetic, and elective operative procedures should be considered non-urgent/non-emergency.

Governor Greg Abbott announced yesterday that he believes by the end of this week, everyone who needs a coronavirus test should be able to obtain one with a doctor’s order. TAPD encourages all of our members to visit the Texas Department of State Health Services and the Texas State Board of Dental Examiners websites to obtain the most up-to-date information for the state of Texas. They have a dedicated call center to answer COVID-19 related questions and concerns Monday-Friday 7:00am-6:00pm which can be reached at 1-877-570-9779. 

We understand this is an anxious time for everyone. Your health and safety, and that of your patients, staff and families, is our highest priority. Our ongoing commitment to you is to ensure that you have the latest resources available to make an informed decision about your practices, and to continue to support you however we can. We are in this together. 

Center for Disease Control and Prevention https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html

American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry https://www.aapd.org/about/about-aapd/news-room/covid-19/

American Dental Association https://success.ada.org/en/practice-management/patients/~/~/link.aspx?_id=6C881EF4A7884989A80BA475F9A116ED&_z=z

Texas Dental Association https://www.tda.org/

Texas Department of State Health Services https://www.dshs.state.tx.us/coronavirus/

Texas Department of State Health Services Statewide Cases https://www.dshs.state.tx.us/news/updates.shtm#coronavirus 

Texas State Board of Dental Examiners http://tsbde.texas.gov/

Covid-19 Update

Hello all,

I hope you, your families and staff are all well. The TAPD board understands and respects your concerns regarding Coronavirus (COVID-19) and want you to know we are speaking with and getting information from ADA, AAPD, TDA, CDC, the Governor’s Office and health authorities and will disseminate that information as quickly as possible to you. Know that we will not only support their recommendations, but we will assist them in any way possible. 

Please be aware that the Texas Attorney General has issued a statement regarding price gouging of supplies. If any of you have any issues with increased prices of masks, hand sanitizer, gloves or other necessary items,  please contact the Texas Attorney General’s toll-free complaint line at (800) 621-0508 or file a complaint online at www.texasattorneygeneral.gov/consumer-protection.

For information on the spread or treatment of Coronavirus (COVID-19), please visit the Texas Department of State Health Services at https://dshs.texas.gov/coronavirus/ . 

Please do not hesitate to let us know if we can assist by emailing texasacademypd@gmail.com.

Thank you, 

Refugio Gonzalez III, DDS

President, Texas Academy of Pediatric Dentistry