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WKSU, our public radio partners in Ohio and across the region and NPR are all continuing to work on stories on the latest developments with the coronavirus and COVID-19 so that we can keep you informed.

Dental Hygienists Say They're Worried About Work, But Dentists Say It's Safe

Anna Jurkovska, shutterstock.com

Dentists can resume office procedures on Friday, after being shut down last month to preserve personal protective equipment for health care workers fighting COVID-19. But some dental employees say they have serious reservations about whether there will be enough PPE to protect them as they see patients.

Dentists and veterinarians are permitted to resume operations for the first time since March 17, when an order shutting down all elective surgeries was signed. Dentists have been able to refer patients to specialists or to deal with emergencies.

Dr. Tom Paumier with the Ohio Dental Association said some dentists donated their PPE supplies such as masks and gloves. But he said most will have enough PPE to open.

However, some hygienists say they fear that’s not the case. Through emails and phone interviews, some hygienists said they're concerned that dental offices will open anyway, which they say would be a public safety risk.

But Paumier said his Canton office will be open Monday, and safety is the priority.

“Every individual will have to weigh their own risk tolerance as to what they feel is absolutely necessary for them to go back to work and every employer will honor that," Paumier said.

Paumier said some dentists are hanging on by a thread because of the financial impact of the shutdown, but he said those that would reopen when they aren’t fully prepared aren’t doing so ethically.

Copyright 2020 The Statehouse News Bureau. To see more, visit The Statehouse News Bureau.

Karen is a lifelong Ohioan who has served as news director at WCBE-FM, assignment editor/overnight anchor at WBNS-TV, and afternoon drive anchor/assignment editor in WTAM-AM in Cleveland. In addition to her daily reporting for Ohio’s public radio stations, she’s reported for NPR, the BBC, ABC Radio News and other news outlets. She hosts and produces the Statehouse News Bureau’s weekly TV show “The State of Ohio”, which airs on PBS stations statewide. She’s also a frequent guest on WOSU TV’s “Columbus on the Record”, a regular panelist on “The Sound of Ideas” on ideastream in Cleveland, appeared on the inaugural edition of “Face the State” on WBNS-TV and occasionally reports for “PBS Newshour”. She’s often called to moderate debates, including the Columbus Metropolitan Club’s Issue 3/legal marijuana debate and its pre-primary mayoral debate, and the City Club of Cleveland’s US Senate debate in 2012.
Karen Kasler
Contact Karen at 614/578-6375 or at kkasler@statehousenews.org.