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AAO Advocates before CDC Concerning PPE and COVID-19 Guidance

On May 15, 2020, a team of AAO representatives met by phone with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) regarding the CDC’s guidance regarding PPE and other COVID-19-related issues for dental practices. Nine CDC staff members who have been involved with the CDC’s guidance for dental practices participated in the meeting, including at least two dentists. The AAO’s team included Dr. Michael Durbin, AAO Trustee and Chair of the AAO COVID-19 Task Force; Dr. Dale Anne Featheringham, Chair of the AAO’s Council on Governmental Affairs; Dr. Phil Mansour, member of the AAO’s Council on Governmental Affairs and member of the COVID-19 Task Force; AAO Legal and Advocacy staff Rob Kent, Trey Lawrence, and Gianna Hartwig; and Kaitlyn Martin, of the AAO’s federal lobbying team and Cozen O’Connor.

Much of the discussion during the call concerned the CDC’s official guidance for dental settings (“Interim Infection Prevention and Control Guidance for Dental Settings During the COVID-19 Response,”), which according to the CDC’s website was last updated on April 27. In particular, the AAO team expressed concern about the CDC’s statement in that guidance that “[s]ervices should be limited to emergency visits only during this period of the pandemic,” especially as individual states begin to allow orthodontic and dental practices to reopen. The AAO team explained that some states have been referring to this CDC guidance to require dental practices to stay closed to non-emergency treatment even as other businesses are allowed to reopen.

The CDC team indicated that new guidance for dental practices would be coming from the CDC soon (within a matter of days rather than weeks). Additionally, the CDC team stated that whereas the old guidance was intended for the “acute” phase of the pandemic in which closures were mandated by states, the new guidance would pertain more specifically to dental practices as states permit reopening. The CDC team further acknowledged their understanding that unlike some other dental treatments, orthodontic treatment is an ongoing, active process during which the doctor must be able to see and monitor the patient.

The AAO team also reiterated our concern regarding the availability of PPE for members’ practices. The CDC team stated that it was aware of PPE shortages and is monitoring the issue (although the CDC itself does not have direct authority over PPE distribution). The CDC team also pointed to the CDC’s guidance on PPE optimization.

Finally, the AAO team described the work of the AAO’s COVID-19 Task Force and offered to provide any assistance needed from the CDC and asked to otherwise be included in future CDC discussions or consideration of additional guidance. The CDC team thanked the AAO for this offer and expressed interest in further discussions as new issues are addressed.

The AAO will continue to monitor federal and state regulatory and legislative activity concerning COVID-19-related issues and to advocate on behalf of its members on these issues.