PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Some elective dental procedures can resume statewide, the Pennsylvania health secretary announced Friday.
Gov. Tom Wolf and Health Secretary Rachel Levine revised their business closure orders to lift the prohibition on "non-urgent and non-emergent" dental procedures.
Dentists and staff must have personal protective equipment and use infection control practices that adhere to federal guidance, Levine said. And all patients must be screened for symptoms of the virus before arriving.
"This isn't a return to routine dentistry," Levine said.
Officials said all patients should be screened for symptoms of COVID-19 before arriving at the practice and social distancing should be maintained while in the practice.
Patients should wash or sanitize their hands frequently and wear a mask when not undergoing treatment. Tele-dentistry should continue when possible as patients may be able to be treated virtually with antibiotics and pain medication.
"We want to make sure that dental practices are operating in a way that protects everyone working in the dental office, patients, and community," Levine said. "If a practice does not have the proper personal protective equipment to perform procedures, then they simply cannot operate. However, we also realize that we do not want to create additional public health needs after the pandemic related to dental issues. By taking appropriate precautions, dentists across Pennsylvania can provide necessary public health treatments in a safe and effective way."
Philadelphia health officials reported 364 new cases Saturday, bringing the city total to 17,881. There were 16 more deaths for a total number of 891.
The Pennsylvania Department of Health confirmed Saturday 1,078 additional positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 55,316.
The state reported an increase of 72 new deaths, bringing the statewide total to 3,688 deaths in Pennsylvania. There are 221,791 patients who have tested negative to date.
Of the patients who have tested positive in Pennsylvania to date the age breakdown is as follows:
Nearly 1% are aged 0-4;
Nearly 1% are aged 5-12;
1% are aged 13-18;
Nearly 6% are aged 19-24;
37% are aged 25-49;
26% are aged 50-64; and
Nearly 28% are aged 65 or older.
Most of the patients hospitalized are aged 65 or older, and most of the deaths have occurred in patients 65 or older.
In nursing and personal care homes, there are 11,239 resident cases of COVID-19, and 1,605 cases among employees, for a total of 12,844 at 530 distinct facilities in 44 counties. Out of the total deaths, 2,518 have occurred in residents from nursing or personal care facilities.
Approximately 3,685 of the total cases are in health care workers.
Non-life-sustaining businesses in the red phase are ordered to be closed and schools are closed statewide through the remainder of the academic year. Currently, 24 counties are in the yellow phase of reopening; 13 more will move to the yellow phase on May 15.
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Pennsylvania allows for some dental procedures