Access TDA’s COVID-19 news and updates as new COVID-19 information and updated regulations become available.
March 15, 2022
CDC Updated Indoor Mask Guidance: Dental Practices Should Still Follow CDC COVID-19 Infection Control Recommendations
Since the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) changed its indoor mask guidance in February 2022, the Texas Dental Association (TDA) has received questions from member dentists about current mask guidelines for dental practices and whether dental practices still need to screen dental healthcare personnel (DHCP) and patients for COVID-19.
Although the Texas State Board of Dental Examiners’ (TSBDE) COVID-19 emergency rule expired in June 2021, the TSBDE still encourages dentists to continue following the CDC’s Infection Prevention & Control in Dental Settings. This document references the CDC’s “Interim Infection Prevention and Control Recommendations for Healthcare Personnel During the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Pandemic” as the source for the most up to date information about COVID-19 infection control and prevention.
As a reminder, the CDC does not have regulatory authority over the operation of dental practices. CDC guidance is a non-binding recommendation. However, as stated above, the TSBDE encourages dentists to follow the CDC’s COVID-19 recommendations for healthcare settings. Should a patient file a COVID-19 related complaint with the TSBDE against a dentist, the dental board will consider whether the dentist was following CDC recommendations.
The CDC recommends that dentists continue:
- to screen patients and dental healthcare personnel for COVID-19;
- to follow updated isolation and quarantine guidance for healthcare personnel;
- to require patients and visitors wear masks or cloth face coverings while in the dental practice if the dental practice is located in a high-risk community;
- to recommend that patients and visitors wear masks or cloth face coverings while in the dental practice if the dental practice is located in a medium or low risk community;
- to have DHCP wear surgical masks; and
- to have DHCP wear the recommended PPE (eg, respirator, gown, gloves, eye protection) when performing aerosol generating procedures in counties with substantial or high levels of transmission.
Click HERE to read TDA’s summary of the current CDC COVID-19 infection control recommendations.
Updated CDC Isolation and Quarantine Guidelines for Dentists
In early 2022, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated isolation and quarantine interim guidance for healthcare personnel. TDA monitored the CDC’s changing guidelines and clarified them for our members. Learn when dentists and dental team members can return to work following COVID-19, or an exposure to COVID-19. Click here to view “CDC Updated COVID-19 Isolation and Quarantine guidelines for Healthcare Personnel.”
Although the Texas State Board of Dental Examiners’ COVID-19 emergency rule expired in June 2021, dentists are encouraged to continue adhering to the CDC’s recommendations to prevent COVID-19 in dental settings. Although Governor Greg Abbott lifted the state mask mandate, dentists can still choose to require patients, staff, and those accompanying patients to the dental practice to wear a mask and follow all CDC COVID-19 safe-practice standards for dental offices.
Additionally, dentists are reminded to review the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS). If a dental practice is covered under the ETS, they must comply with the general duty and general standards. These standards include a written COVID-19 plan for the dental practice, practice-specific hazard assessments for COVID-19, the use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) as necessary, including gloves, isolation gowns or protective clothing, facemasks, respirators, and eye protection. While OSHA develops a final COVID-19 regulatory solution, it will “vigorously enforce the general duty clause and its general standards, including Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and Respiratory Protection Standards, to help protect healthcare employees from the hazard of COVID-19.”
CDC Announces Changes to Recommended Isolation and Quarantine Period
On December 27, 2021, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shortened the recommended isolation time for COVID-19 positive individuals from 10 days to 5 days from the positive test date, if asymptomatic, followed by 5 days of wearing a mask around others. This applies regardless if the individual is vaccinated. If the individual has a fever, they should continue isolation until the fever ends.
Additionally, the CDC shortened the recommended quarantine time for those exposed to a person that is COVID-19 positive. Those unvaccinated or 6 months out from their second vaccine does (or more than 2 months after the Johnson and Johnson vaccine) should quarantine for 5 days followed by strict mask use for an additional 5 days. Those exposed but unable to quarantine for 5 days should wear a mask around others for 10 days after exposure. Individuals that received their booster vaccine dose do not need to quarantine following an exposure, but should wear a mask for 10 days after exposure.
It’s important that the mask is well-fitting.
Anyone exposed should also test at day 5 after exposure. However, if symptomatic, immediately quarantine until a negative test.
The CDC reported that these changes are supported by science showing that a majority of COVID-19 transmissions generally occur early in the 1-2 days prior to the onset of symptoms and 2-3 days after. For details, see the CDC’s media statement. Dentists are reminded to update their written COVID-19 plan with the new CDC isolation and quarantine recommendations.
Alert: OSHA’s New COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standard
On November 5, 2021, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued an emergency temporary standard strongly encouraging COVID-19 vaccination of all employees of large employers (100 or more employees), and development of an employer policy regarding regular COVID-19 testing for non-vaccinated employees. Texas, several other states, and business advocates brought a lawsuit against final implementation of the standard, and in response, the US Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit temporarily blocked the rule. However, the outcome of the rule, set to take effect on January 4, 2022, has not been decided. The Texas Dental Association is closely monitoring the situation, and will update members as new information becomes available.
COVID Vaccine Laws: What You Need to Know
The TDA team includes experts in legal and regulatory issues whose knowledge helps Texas dentists. TDA’s legal counsel recently analyzed Senate Bill 968—the state’s COVID-19 vaccine bill—so you don’t have to. TDA’s legal and regulatory support saves you time and money.
SB 968, effective as of June 16, 2021, does not prevent you from asking your team members about their COVID-19 vaccine status, or requiring all of your team members to be vaccinated.
Additionally, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s (EEOC) recently updated COVID-19 guidance states that asking for proof of a team member’s vaccination status is not a disability-related inquiry and is permitted under federal disability discrimination law. However, the EEOC cautions that asking an employee about the reasons for declining vaccination could require the employee to reveal information about a disability. The employer dentist will need to show that such questions were "job-related and consistent with business necessity." Dentist employers should warn employees not to provide any medical information as part of the proof of vaccination.
Regarding patients, you are prevented from asking patients about their vaccine status as part of your COVID-19 patient screening process. You can ask patients whether they have been vaccinated when completing and updating the patient’s required medical history and limited physical evaluation.
If you’re a TDA member and you have questions about complying with regulations in your practice, you can call or email us. Individualized regulatory help is a benefit we offer our members. Visit https://www.tda.org/member-center/personalized-insurance-regulatory-help for more info.
Governor Abbott Issues New COVID-19 Order
On July 29, 2021, Governor Greg Abbott issued a new COVID-19 executive order—GA-38. The order combines many previous COVID-19 executive order requirements into a single order ensuring uniformity throughout the state. GA-38 bans local governments from limiting business capacity or mandating face coverings. Further, the order prohibits vaccine requirements by governments or entities receiving public funds. Governor Abbott stressed that, “The new Executive Order emphasizes that the path forward relies on personal responsibility rather than government mandates.”
Dentists must still comply with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) emergency temporary standard for COVID-19 in healthcare settings, and are encouraged to continue following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) COVID-19 “Guidance for Dental Settings” as edited on July 13, 2021.
ADA Strongly Encourages Vaccination for Dental Health Professionals
The American Dental Association (ADA) 'strongly' encourages dental professionals to be vaccinated for COVID-19, but stops short of calling for mandated vaccination.
TSBDE COVID Emergency Rule Expires; New COVID-19 OSHA Standards
The Texas State Board of Dental Examiners’ COVID-19 emergency rule dictated the minimum standards for safe dental practice during the COVID-19 pandemic. Versions of the emergency rule have been in place since March 2020, with the most recent version being in place since March 2021, The emergency rule included, among other things, patient and dental staff screening for COVID-19 symptoms and wearing an N95 respirator, KN95 respirator, or their substantial equivalent, within 6 feet of any and all aerosol generating procedures.
The dental board announced during its June 18th meeting that the COVID-19 emergency rule will expire today. However, dentists are encouraged to continue following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) COVID-19 “Guidance for Dental Settings” to help stop the spread of COVID-19. Although Governor Greg Abbott lifted the state mask mandate, dentists can still choose to require patients, staff, and those accompanying patients to the dental practice to wear a mask and follow all CDC COVID-19 safe-practice standards for dental offices.
On June 10, 2021, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued an emergency temporary standard for COVID-19 in healthcare settings. The final rule version has not yet been published. For the full document, please see 29 CFR 1910, Subpart U. Although dentistry is largely exempt from the new OSHA standard, the American Dental Association (ADA) notes that dental practices must follow key provisions such as pre-appointment patient screenings for COVID-19, screening anyone entering the dental practice prior to entry and denying entry to anyone suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19, and having a written COVID-19 plan. For details on compliance with OSHA’s COVID-19 temporary standard in healthcare settings, visit the ADA’s “OSHA COVID-19 Healthcare Emergency Temporary Standard.”
CDC Guidance for Individuals Fully Vaccinated: No Change to Dental Board COVID-19 Emergency Rule
On May 13, 2021, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued recommendations on how those that are fully vaccinated can protect themselves and others. According to the CDC, fully vaccinated individuals can resume activities without wearing a face mask or physically distancing, except when required by law or regulations, including local business and workplace guidance. The CDC considers individuals fully vaccinated 2 weeks after their second dose in a 2-dose series, such as the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, or 2 weeks after a single-dose vaccine, such as Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccine.
Governor Abbott’s executive order reopening Texas remains in effect (GA-34). TDA spoke with the Texas State Board of Dental Examiners (TSBDE) on May 13, 2021, and the dental board’s COVID-19 emergency rule also remains in effect. The TSBDE plans no changes to the emergency rule before it expires on June 18, 2021, unless directed to do so by the Governor’s office. The dental board will reconvene on June 18, 2021, and may decide to extend the rule for an additional 60 days if Governor Abbott continues renewing the COVID-19 disaster declaration.
COVID-19 Vaccine Soon Available to All Texans
On March 29th all adult Texans are eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. The Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) will soon launch a new website allowing people to register for shots through certain public health providers. Texans can enroll in the Texas Public Health Vaccine Scheduler to learn about upcoming vaccine clinics hosted by DSHS, or a participating local health department, as well as being notified when new clinics and appointments become available. For more information, visit DSHS Vaccine Information webpage at dshs.texas.gov/covidvaccine. Although the vaccine will be available to all adults, DSHS expects vaccine providers to continue prioritizing people 80 years old or order and those at the most risk of severe disease, hospitalization, and death.
Governor Abbott Authorizes Texas Dentists and Dental Students to Administer the COVID-19 Vaccine
The Texas State Board of Dental Examiners (TSBDE) just announced today (March 22) that Governor Greg Abbott approved dentists and dental students to administer the COVID-19 vaccine, under the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act’s (PREP) recently amended emergency declaration. To qualify, a dentist must be actively licensed in Texas or held an active license within the last 5 years that is currently inactive, retired, expired, or lapsed, as long as the license was in good standing prior to the date of inactivity and was not revoked by the TSBDE, or surrendered to the TSBDE while under suspension, discipline, or investigation, or arrest. A dentist also cannot be on the Exclusion List maintained by the Office of the Inspector General. Dental students must have training in appropriate vaccine administration as determined by their dental school and be supervised by a health care professional experienced in administering intramuscular injections. Other requirements also apply. The TSBDE is informing the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) that dentists can now administer the COVID-19 vaccine so that DSHS will let dentists register as COVID-19 vaccine providers.
Want to administer the COVID-19 vaccine in your dental office?
- Register through EnrollTexasIZ.dshs.texas.gov. Only registered dentists can receive and administer COVID-19 vaccines in Texas.
- Complete the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) COVID 19 Vaccination Program Provider Agreement and list the healthcare providers at that location that would be responsible for vaccination.
- Remember: You must be able to maintain vaccine safety and inventory and agree to report all COVID-19 dosages you administer and other data in the required time frame using DSHS required reporting format.
- Remember: You must administer the COVID-19 to patients for free regardless of the recipient’s ability to pay.
- Remember: You cannot seek reimbursement for COVID-19 vaccine or reimbursement for any ancillary supplies provided to you for free by the federal government.
- For more information go to DSHS’s “Vaccination Provider Enrollment” Webpage.
- Questions? Call the DSHS COVID 19 Vaccine Provider hotline at (877) 835-7750, 8AM to 5PM, Monday through Friday or email COVID19VacEnroll@dshs.texas.gov.
Want to volunteer your services?
- You only need to be authorized by the event or program’s licensed signing clinician.
It is exciting that dentists can now join the state’s vaccination efforts. Dentists have the knowledge and skills necessary to administer the COVID-19 vaccine, and TDA is eager to be a part of the state’s plan to get the vaccine to every Texan who wants to be vaccinated.
Governor Abbott Renews COVID-19 Disaster Declaration
On May 5, 2021, Governor Greg Abbott renewed the state COVID-19 disaster declartion for another 30 days.
Gov. Abbott Reopens Texas; TSBDE Emergency Rule Still in Effect
On March 2, 2021, Governor Greg Abbott issued a new executive order (GA-34) reopening Texas. According to the executive order, “COVID-19 hospitalizations and the rate of new COVID cases have steadily declined…”.
Effective 12:01 AM on March 10, 2021, counties located in an “area without high hospitalizations” have no state-imposed COVID-19 related operating limits for any business or other establishments. Although face coverings will no longer be required in public after the order’s effective date, individuals are still strongly encouraged to wear face coverings when unable to maintain 6 feet of social distance from other persons not in the same household.
TDA talked with the Texas State Board of Dental Examiners (TSBDE) this afternoon and the agency is still reviewing and discussing Governor Abbott’s new order and how it will impact the dental board’s COVID-19 emergency rule. Until notified otherwise, all dentists must practice in accordance with the TSBDE’s COVID-19 emergency rule—22 Texas Administrative Code §108.7(16) that went into effect on February 19, 2021.
The order defines areas with high-hospitalizations as a Trauma Service Area (TSA) with 7 consecutive days in which the number of COVID-19 hospitalized patients exceeds 15% of overall hospital capacity. The designation is lifted when the TSA has 7 consecutive days in which the number of COVID-19 hospitalized patients is 15% or less of overall hospital capacity. The Department of State Health Services will maintain a current list of areas with high hospitalizations. In areas of the state defined as high hospitalization for 7 straight days, a county judge “may use COVID mitigation strategies” provided that local restrictions allow businesses and other establishments to continue operating at 50% minimum capacity.
TSBDE Adopts New COVID-19 Emergency Rule
On February 19, 2021, the Texas State Board of Dental Examiners (TSBDE) voted unanimously (2 absentees) to adopt a new COVID-19 emergency rule—22 Texas Administrative Code §108.7(16). The new emergency rule is in keeping with Governor Greg Abbott’s Executive Order (GA-19) dictating the minimum standards for safe dental practice during the COVID-19 pandemic. Unless Governor Abbott lifts the COVID-19 disaster declaration, the final new COVID-19 emergency rule will be in effect for 120 days. At that time, the dental board will reconvene and decide whether to extend the rule for an additional 60 days.
Highlights of the new emergency rule include:
- No longer prioritizing that patient care be performed by dental health care personnel not at high risk for contracting COVID-19;
- No longer requiring the removal of magazines, reading materials, toys, and other objects that may be touched by others;
- No longer requiring COVID-19 patient screening by phone during scheduling. Patients must still be screened during patient confirmation prior to appointment;
- No longer prohibiting patient companions. Companions should continue to be screened for COVID-19 during patient check-in;
- No longer recommending a pre-procedure rinse; and
- Changing the time for a patient to contact the dental office if they experience COVID-19 symptoms from 10 days to 7 days after the dental appointment.
December 2020 CDC Guidance: Guidance for Dental Settings
Interim Infection Prevention and Control Guidance for Dental Settings During the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Pandemic
In December 2020, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its guidance for dental care during COVID-19. Thus updated guidance is to help dentists and dental health care personnel as practices transition away from only emergency dental care and restart offering elective dental procedures. The precautions noted in the updated guidance should remain in place as a part of the ongoing response to the COVID-19 pandemic. To read the updated guidelines in their entirety click HERE
. **Please remember that CDC guidelines are simply recommendations. Dentists must adhere to the Texas State Board of Dental Examiners’ COVID-19 emergency rule.