Governor Abbott put out two more Executive Orders today that affect healthcare providers including dentists.
UPDATE: We have had legal input on GA 15, the previous story which affects this story. It is possible that dentists may be able to open after April 21 for regular services. We are waiting for clarification.
Besides GA 15 which we have already written about today, the Governor issued GA 16 "Relating to the safe, strategic reopening of select services as the first step to Open Texas in response to the COVID-19 disaster" and GA 17 "Relating to the establishment of the Governor’s Strike Force to Open Texas." Both orders are available below.
Opening non-essential services
GA 16 allows the opening of some non-essential services. Essential services are supposed to be already open. Per the Department of Homeland Security guidelines referenced in the order, healthcare workers such as doctors and dentists are essential services. The DHS list of essential services is available below.
Healthcare providers and Caregivers including physicians, dentists, psychologists, mid-level practitioners, nurses and assistants, infection control and quality assurance personnel, pharmacists, physical and occupational therapists and assistants, social workers, optometrists, speech pathologists, chiropractors, and diagnostic and therapeutic technicians and technologists.
However, GA 9 issued on March 22 ordered healthcare offices to not perform regular healthcare services so hospital capacity and supplies would be preserved. Dental offices could not perform regular dental services but had to remain available to perform emergency services. At midnight April 21, this order expires.
Per GA 15, we're not sure how this applies. Dentists might be able to open on Tuesday after GA 9 expires.
New Strike Force to resolve healthcare service restoration
GA 17 establishing the Strike Force says that the Strike Force in concert with state health authorities will set dates for the reopening of health services. It specifically states that the Strike Force will study and make recommendations with state health officials for:
Restoring health care services for Texans as soon as reasonably practicable for each type of service in light of the health and safety concerns and in consultation with each applicable state regulatory agency;
On the timing of the recommendations, the Governor adds:
With Executive Order GA-16 set to expire on April 30, 2020, and given my expectation that it will not be extended in its current form, the Strike Force must provide immediate and ongoing recommendations consistent with the advisory duties outlined above, including advice regarding the safe reopening of Texas businesses in a strategic, healthy, and productive manner. This shall include recommendations about any prudent reopening measures that can be implemented between now and May 1, 2020. This advice should include the types of businesses and services to reopen, the extent to which the providers of those services may function, and any restrictions that should be placed upon those services and service providers.
So we don't know if dentists have to wait for the Strike Force date or can start delivering dental services on April 22?!?