Arkansas Department of Health Secretary Dr. Nathaniel Smith announced that non-urgent dental procedures will be allowed to resume on May 11, a week earlier than originally planned.
May 18 was the original target date set by Gov. Asa Hutchinson and the Arkansas Department of Health to resume elective dental operations. When Hutchinson made the announcement about the directive for dentists on April 24, he said, “We’re setting that as a goal. Obviously, if we’re not comfortable with where we are, that can change. But we’re setting that as a goal – our plan to reopen for those dental procedures on May 18.”
However, the officials said that it seems as though most dental offices are ready to open before then and can do so safely after a conversation with the COVID-19 Dental Advisory Group. The group and Smith had a phone call that was open to the public yesterday.
“There were a number of issues that were raised. Based on the input that we had on the start date, when that directive would be effective, we have decided to move that to May 11,” said Smith. “So, that directive will go into place May 11 instead of May 18. That was based on input from the dental association, primarily, where they went through the steps that have been taken to prepare and they felt that most of the dentists had adequate supply of personal protective equipment (PPE) and had protocols in place that would help protect patients and staff.”
The Arkansas Department of Health will be collaborating with the Arkansas Board of Dental Examiners to make unannounced visits to monitor compliance.
The Arkansas State Dental Association (ASDA) estimates that there are 1,400 licenced dentists in the state, employing more than 8,000 individuals.