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COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions

The questions you have about dentistry and COVID-19, answered by experts. Don't see what you're looking for?

Questions? Contact ADA

We will update this page and make announcements on new information via ADA News and the ADA Morning Huddle as they become available.

The American Dental Association (ADA) recognizes the importance of providing the profession with credible information that will protect both patients and dental health care personnel at a time when information is constantly being updated. We will update this page as new information becomes available.

This document provides answers to some recent member question regarding:

  • Financial and Dental Benefit Considerations
    • Business Interruption Insurance
    • Federal Income Taxes
    • SBA Loans - last reviewed Sept. 21, 2020
    • Dental Benefit Coding Information - last reviewed Sept. 3, 2020
    • Virtual Dental Evaluations - last reviewed Sept. 3, 2020
  • Staff and Office Protection and Asepsis
    • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), including masks
    • Maintaining the Practice’s Physical Environment
    • COVID-19 Infection Control Protocols and Procedures Webinar
  • HIPAA Considerations
    • HIPAA and Family Disclosures - last reviewed June 23, 2020
    • Disclosures to Law Enforcement, Paramedics, Other First Responders and Public Health Authorities - last reviewed June 23, 2020
  • Patient Communication
    • Guidance on Informed Consent
    • Questions to Ask Patients 
    • What to do if COVID-19 is Suspected in Patient
    • How to Offer Emergency Care to Patient with COVID-19
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Employer and Employee Issues

  • Are small businesses (fewer than 50 employees) exempt from having to pay mandatory wages, sick leave, and Family Medical Leave?
  • What should employee dentists do when their employer refuses to close offices per ADA or state guidance?
  • Since coronavirus can spread via aerosol transmission, should my staff be using scaling instruments or hand pieces any differently than we usually do?
  • I’ve seen a lot of information about managing patient exposures: what should we do if there’s a case of potential or actual employee exposure?
  • Should staff report to work with acute respiratory symptoms?

Financial and Dental Benefit Considerations

  • What is business interruption insurance and can it help cover this risk?
  • What is the Provider Relief Fund?
  • What expenses or lost revenues are considered eligible for reimbursement from the Provider Relief Fund?
  • Can a provider choose to have its payment data omitted from the Provider Relief Fund public list on the CDC’s website?
  • Are there any changes to federal tax deadlines of which I should be aware?
  • What are Small Business Administration Loans, and who is eligible to receive them?
  • Do partners in a group practice apply for SBA loans individually or as a single entity?
  • What expenses are considered overhead? Can those be forgiven?
  • Can the SBA loans be used to pay associates who are normally paid on a percentage of production?
  • Are the SBA loans available to non-owner dentists (e.g., independent contractors, associates, etc.)?
  • What are the differences between the various types of SBA loans?
  • Are SBA loans available to companies (e.g., S corporation, C corporation, LLC, PC, etc.)?
  • Do I have to rehire all of my employees to use the PPP loan?
  • Will we need to document how the EIDL grant and other SBA loan monies are spent? How?
  • Is eligibility for the SBA loans dependent on whether we keep all of our employees for the full covered period(s)? What if we can’t rehire all of our employees at once?
  • How does forgiveness of the 7(a) loan work? What expenses qualify for forgiveness? Is there a limit to the amount of forgiveness?
  • Are independent contractor dentists eligible for a 7(a) loans?
  • What is the timeframe during which the 7(a) loan forgiveness applies?
  • I have never provided an evaluation virtually, but understand that it might be a helpful way for my patients to access my care without making come into my office unnecessarily. How would I start incorporating this into my practice?

Federal Student Loan Guide to the CARES Act

Staff and Office Protection and Asepsis

  • What do we do about the shortage of masks?
  • Should masks be only single use?
  • Should we close the practice if we run out of masks and our vendors and distributors have put caps on how much, and how often, we can get new shipments?
  • I have noticed it is easier to purchase ASTM Level 1 masks than Level 2 or Level 3. What is the difference between the levels? How do I know which to buy?
  • Should clinical staff wear N-95 respirators?
  • Should we ask patients to wait in their cars until we can treat them so they aren’t sitting in crowded waiting rooms or reception areas?
  • Should we have glass partitions between the front office staff and the waiting room when possible to decrease the risk of staff exposure?
  • How can I watch the on-demand COVID-19 infection control webinar with the Organization for Safety, Asepsis, and Prevention (OSAP)?

HIPAA Considerations

  • A patient with a confirmed case of COVID-19 is claiming we violated her HIPAA Privacy Rights by contacting her husband and asking him to cancel his upcoming appointment since he’s in close contact with someone who has the disease. She’s threatened to file a complaint with the federal Office for Civil Rights. Does she have a valid complaint? Did we violate HIPAA? We thought we were doing the right thing to protect other patients and our staff.
  • Can I give the name of a patient who has been infected with or exposed to COVID-19 to a law enforcement official, paramedic, other first responder, or public health authority? Or do I need to get the patient’s authorization first?

Patient Communication

  • Do I need to do anything special regarding informed consent if I’m treating patients who present with emergency/urgent care needs during the COVID-19 pandemic?
  • What questions should we ask our patients in order to identify their symptoms and decide whether to cancel an appointment?
  • What should we do if we suspect a patient has COVID-19? Do we notify the local or state health department?
  • What if a patient has the virus, but urgently needs dental treatment? How do we proceed to provide care?

Questions regarding coronavirus, the virus which causes COVID-19