Washington dentists, doctors can expand access to patients

Washington Governor Jay Inslee has announced that dentists and doctors’ offices can reopen immediately for non-urgent treatment if coronavirus safety protocols are in place, including adequate personal protective equipment for workers.

Each medical or dental practice will determine whether it is ready to expand access to patients, and will have to implement policies including limiting the number of people in waiting rooms and conducting temperature checks. Each facility also must develop a plan that allows for a possible reduction of services if there is an increase of COVID-19 in its region that puts a strain on the health care system.

Washington’s stay-at-home order — in place since March 23 — has been extended through at least May 31 and the state is in the early stages of a four-phase lifting of restrictions. Inslee has already eased some restrictions across the state, allowing the resumption of existing construction, fishing and golf, and the reopening of most state parks, as well as curbside pickup for retail sales.

There will be a minimum of three weeks between each phase, but rural counties that meet certain metrics are allowed to apply to speed up the process. On Monday, Asotin County became the 10th county given the go-ahead to enter the second phase of reopening. Among the things allowed in phase two are hair salons and barbers reopening and restaurants at half capacity, with tables of no larger than five people.

Inslee said that while he hopes the rest of the state can move to the second phase on June 1, there is no guarantee when that will happen.

More than 18,600 people in Washington state have tested positive for the coronavirus and just over 1,000 have died. (AP)

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