Coronavirus FAQ

Click on the link below for your question. If you would like further information, contact PAGD via email or at 717-737-4682.

One of my employees has tested positive for COVID-19. What should I tell patients?
Should the rest of the staff quarantine?
How long before infected staff can return to work?
What should we do if personnel came into close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19 outside of work?
What should we do if a patient informed us that they tested positive for COVID-19?
Do I need to notify other patients if a patient has tested positive for COVID-19?
When can I and my staff get vaccinated?
Where can I get vaccinated?
Can I administer the vaccine?
Do I need a fit test for my N95?
Can I use a kN95 instead of a N95?
What are my options if N95s are not available?
Can my N95s be reused?





One of my employees has tested positive for COVID-19. What should I tell patients?

According to PA HAN 521, any patient who was within six feet of the infectious employee for at least 15 minutes would be considered a close contact. A close contact must be notified of their exposure and informed to self-quarantine for 14 days following the exposure, even if the employee is wearing a facemask or other PPE. For brief close contacts, any interaction involving examination or treatment of the oral cavity should still be considered an exposure to the patient.





Should the rest of the staff quarantine?

Contact tracing efforts should identify any staff person who was within six feet of the infectious DHCP for at least 15 minutes. Any exposure to staff that meets the following would be considered a high-risk exposure and would warrant quarantine and exclusion from work for 14 days following the exposure:

  • Exposed staff person was not wearing a respirator or facemask (cloth facemasks are not included); or
  • Exposed staff person was not wearing eye protection if the employee with COVID-19 was not wearing a cloth face covering or facemask.

According to PA HAN 510, if the only contacts were wearing full PPE, including eye protection, respirator, or facemask, there are no work restrictions, and staff should monitor themselves for symptoms.





How long before infected staff can return to work?

According to the CDC Interim Guidance Criteria for Return to Work for Healthcare Personnel with SARS-CoV-2 Infection, there are two strategies that an employer can use: A symptom-based strategy and a test-based strategy. CDC recommends using the symptom-based strategy, because it will often disqualify an employee from work who is no longer infectious.

Symptom-based strategy:
For personnel with mild to moderate illness who are not severely immunocompromised:

  • At least ten days have passed since symptoms first appeared and
  • At least 24 hours have passed since last fever without the use of fever-reducing medications and
  • Symptoms (e.g., cough, shortness of breath) have improved

Personnel who are not severely immunocompromised and were asymptomatic throughout their infection may return to work when at least ten days have passed since the date of their first positive viral diagnostic test.

Personnel with severe to critical illness or who are severely immunocompromised1:

  • At least 10 days and up to 20 days have passed since symptoms first appeared
  • At least 24 hours have passed since last fever without the use of fever-reducing medications and
  • Symptoms (e.g., cough, shortness of breath) have improved

Personnel who are severely immunocompromised but who were asymptomatic throughout their infection may return to work when at least 10 days and up to 20 days have passed since the date of their first positive viral diagnostic test.

Test-based strategy
Personnel who are symptomatic:

  • Resolution of fever without the use of fever-reducing medications and
  • Improvement in symptoms (e.g., cough, shortness of breath), and
  • Results are negative from at least two consecutive respiratory specimens collected ≥24 hours apart.

HCP who are not symptomatic:

  • Results are negative from at least two consecutive respiratory specimens collected ≥24 hours apart.



What should we do if personnel came into close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19 outside of work?

According to the CDC Guidance for Dental Settings, if nonvaccinated personnel believe they have experienced an exposure to COVID-19 outside of the dental setting, including during domestic travel, they should follow CDC’s Public Health Guidance for Community-Related Exposure. For close contact exposure (six feet for 15 minutes) to a person with COVID-19 who has symptoms or has tested positive for COVID-19 but has not had any symptoms, employees are recommended to stay home until 14 days after last exposure, maintain social distance from others, and self-monitor for symptoms. For other contacts, practice social distancing and be alert for symptoms.

According to PA HAN 551, vaccinated personnel do not need to quarantine after an exposure if they meet the following criteria:

  • They are fully vaccinated (i.e., ≥2 weeks following receipt of the second dose in a 2-dose series, or ≥2 weeks following receipt of one dose of a single-dose vaccine);
  • They are within 3 months following receipt of the last dose in the series; AND,
  • They have remained asymptomatic since the current COVID-19 exposure.





What should we do if a patient informed us that they tested positive for COVID-19?

According to PA HAN 510, contact tracing efforts should identify any personnel who had prolonged close contact with the infectious patient. Any prolonged close contact to an employee that meets the following would be considered a high-risk exposure and would warrant quarantine and exclusion from work for 14 days following the exposure.

  • Exposed personnel was not wearing a respirator or facemask (cloth facemasks are not included)
  • Exposed personnel was not wearing eye protection if the patient with COVID-19 was not wearing a cloth face covering or facemask; or
  • Exposed personnel was not wearing all recommended PPE while performing an aerosol-generating procedure.


Do I need to notify other patients if a patient has tested positive for COVID-19?

According to PA HAN 521, out of an abundance of caution, an office may choose to notify patients and staff who were in adjacent open rooms during the procedure. This would make them aware of a low-risk exposure, and allow them to keep watch for symptoms, but quarantine would not be officially recommended.



Vaccinations

 





When can I and my staff get vaccinated?

Vaccinations will be administered in phases based on supply availability. According to the Pennsylvania COVID-19 Interim Vaccination Plan, dental professionals are considered healthcare personnel in Phase 1A and recommends that healthcare personnel be prioritized in the earliest phases of COVID-19 vaccination.

If there is initially insufficient supply to cover all healthcare personnel, there will be further sub-prioritization. In this case, “COVID-19 facing healthcare personnel,” will be prioritized. “COVID-19 facing healthcare personnel” as healthcare personnel who:

  1. Have direct patient contact and are unable to telework; AND
  2. Are personnel without a known infection in the prior 90 days; AND
  3. Are personnel who work most of the time in a “COVID-19 facing unit.” A COVID-19 facing unit is an area of a health care facility that is expected to care for individuals with COVID-19.





Where can I get vaccinated?

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Health COVID-19 vaccine page, providers are being enrolled and will be able to administer COVID-19 vaccinations. Many pharmacies, health centers, doctor's offices, urgent care centers, and mass vaccination clinics will be vaccine providers. For the latest vaccine distribution, visit the DOH vaccine page and scroll to COVID Vaccine Distribution at the bottom of the page.





Can I administer the vaccination?

According to the CDC, vaccine administrators must receive comprehensive, competency-based training on vaccine administration policies and procedures before administering vaccines. Comprehensive, skills-based training should be integrated into existing staff education programs such as new staff orientation and annual education requirements. To receive and administer COVID-19 vaccine, providers must be credentialed/licensed in Pennsylvania, sign and agree to the conditions in the CDC COVID-19 Vaccination Program Provider Agreement, and also fully complete the CDC COVID-19 Vaccination Provider Profile form for each location where COVID-19 vaccine will be administered. For this information, visit the DOH COVID-19 Vaccine Providers webpage.



PPE





Do I need a fit test for my N95?

While the requirement for a yearly fit test has been waived, the requirement for the initial fit test has not. To schedule a fit test, contact your local hospital’s occupational health department, or search for an occupational health business in your area.





Can I use a kN95 instead of a N95?

kN95 is the classification for facepiece respirators that are certified in China and imported. Some of them have been approved by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), others have not. For a full list of approved respirators, visit the NIOSH web page.






What are my options if N95s are not available?

According to the OSHA Guidance for Dentistry Workers and Employers, a surgical mask with eye protection, work clothing, and gloves can be used for dental procedures not involving aerosols. For dental procedures involving aerosols, or for procedures on someone with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 infection, gloves, gown, eye protection, and NIOSH-certified, disposable N95 filtering facepiece respirator or better must be used.






Can my N95s be reused?

According to the CDC NIOSH Recommended Guidance for Extended Use and Limited Reuse of N95 Filtering Facepiece Respirators in Healthcare Settings, healthcare facilities should develop clearly written procedures to advise staff to take the following steps to reduce contact transmission:

  • Discard N95 respirators following use during aerosol generating procedures.
  • Discard N95 respirators contaminated with blood, respiratory or nasal secretions, or other bodily fluids from patients.
  • Discard N95 respirators following close contact with any patient co-infected with an infectious disease requiring contact precautions.
  • Consider use of a cleanable face shield (preferred3) over an N95 respirator and/or other steps (e.g., masking patients, use of engineering controls), when feasible to reduce surface contamination of the respirator.
  • Hang used respirators in a designated storage area or keep them in a clean, breathable container such as a paper bag between uses. To minimize potential cross-contamination, store respirators so that they do not touch each other and the person using the respirator is clearly identified. Storage containers should be disposed of or cleaned regularly.