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Face coverings, social distancing still required for fully vaccinated patients and staff in dental office

CDC mask guidance for fully vaccinated people does not apply to health care settings

May 26, 2021 13899
Sign reading 'please wear a mask'

Quick Summary:

Cal/OSHA has not yet updated its COVID-19 prevention guidance for dental offices. As for now, protocols for masks and social distancing are still required.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recent update on mask guidance for fully vaccinated people and California’s plans to lift mask and social distancing mandates June 15 have led to an increase in calls to CDA Practice Support from member dentists who are unclear on whether to ease or maintain these requirements for patients and staff while in the dental office.

CDA is closely monitoring the CDC, California Department of Public Health and Cal/OSHA COVID-19 updates to provide the most accurate information on how the recent changes apply to dental offices.

This is what practice owners and dental teams need to know:

Masks and social distancing are still required in the dental office

Cal/OSHA has not yet updated its COVID-19 prevention regulations for fully vaccinated dental team members. As for now, dental practices should continue complying with Cal/OSHA regulations that require all dental team members to wear face coverings and practice social distancing when in the dental office. Additionally, respirators are still required in areas where aerosol-generating procedures are being performed.

Cal/OSHA is considering updating its regulations to align with CDC guidance, which allows fully vaccinated dental team members to socialize in breakrooms and conduct in-person meetings without wearing face coverings or social distancing. As for now, protocols for face coverings and social distancing should remain in place when in the breakroom except while an employee is eating and physically distant from others.

Dental practices should inform patients and visitors that the CDC’s recent mask guidance for fully vaccinated people does not apply to health care settings and that face coverings and social distancing are required while in the dental office. Social distancing protocols should be implemented in the waiting room with patients from different households.

Continue COVID-19 screenings for patients and staff

Dental offices should continue COVID-19 screening for patients. Fully vaccinated patients and visitors do not have to answer all of the questions on the screening form, but can be asked, “How are you feeling today?” Temperature checks may continue for all patients and visitors regardless of their vaccination status.

CDA’s updated COVID-19 patient screening form includes a question about the patient’s vaccine status.

Practice owners may continue active screening of staff or move to a self-reporting system where employees self-screen prior to their scheduled shift.

Dental staff can be required to report to the employer and not report to work if:

  • They are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19.
  • They have a fever equal to or higher than 100.0 F.
  • They are waiting for the results of a COVID-19 test to confirm infection.
  • They have been diagnosed with COVID-19 and are not yet cleared to discontinue isolation.

CDA will keep members informed on the most up-to-date guidance from the CDC, CDPH and Cal/OSHA in the CDA newsroom. COVID-19 resources are also available in the Back to Practice Resources Center.

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