Implant and General Dentistry of Vermont took a “pause” providing elective patient services this past Thursday. Shutdown of most of Vermont dentistry was prompted by emergence of COVID-19, a highly infective virus, spread world wide. After much thought, our office team concluded, “We want to be part of Vermont’s solution, eradicating the outbreak, rather than part of the problem, contracting and spreading the disease.”
COVID-19 Pandemic China to Rutland
The source of the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19): Wuhan, Hubei, China. Investigators say the SARS-CoV-2 virus may have come from an open market. The SARS-CoV-2 virus, with structure very close to a bat virus, is thought to have “jumped” from a host animal to humans shortly before the first documented case appeared, December 2019.
The virus quickly spread beyond China’s borders due to travelers in and out of the the Wuhan epicenter. By January and February of 2020, pockets of severe respiratory disease, identified as COVID-19 infection, began to appear in Italy, Iran and Korea. The geometric growth and reach of the new COVID-19 infections into 110 countries prompted Director General of the World Health Organization to declare the Coronavirus outbreak a Pandemic, March 11, 2020.
COVID-19 Enters USA
A 35yr old man on return from Wuhan to the West Coast, January 15, 2020, was the first COVID-19 case diagnosed in the U.S. This single case, sounded an “alarm” for our Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and public health officials. On January 29 President Trump assembled the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Task Force and within two days, a travel ban from China started. Europe, the British Isles and other areas of the world were added to the ban to prevent “seeding” of infected non citizens to the United States. In the meantime, quarantine of 14 days was highly recommended for U.S. travelers coming home from abroad. Early containment and mitigation strategies helped. But, researches found this virus was highly contagious. COVID-19 continued to spread.
COVID-19 in Vermont
The first COVID- 19 case in Vermont, was a Bennington resident tested then diagnosed March 8, 2020. News of this coronavirus patient prompted talk about events where larger groups of people gathered. Athletic games, gyms, concerts, schools, restaurants and businesses all had risk of spreading infection and were cautioned. Then a rash of new cases popped up that mandated Statewide closures of schools on March 18, 2020. The Pandemic creeped closer to Rutland.
Vermont Dentistry- COVID-19 Rutland, VT Dental Office Takes Pause
By Monday, March 16, our office routinely asked targeted screening questions by phone. Understandably, patients, presumed at risk due to recent travel, were happy to reschedule. Some were already self quarantined!
Then, physicians confirmed that asymptomatic individuals could indeed transmit the disease. This was a fact that no one could ignore. Consequently, action by all Vermont citizens to shut down the COVID- 19 spread became the imperative.
We first called hygiene patients informing them of our concern for their safety. We recommended a “pause” in their care until the COVID-19 threat passed. Cindi and I continued finishing treatments in progress until March 20. By day’s end that day, all future elective dental services scheduled at Implant and General Dentistry of Vermont were placed on hold.
Monday March 23, 2020, Vermont Governor Phil Scott, in conjunction with the Vermont State Dental Society, mandated closure of all dental offices for other than emergency care until April 15, 2020.
COVID-19 for Skeptics
SARS-CoV2, is a “coronavirus” and gets its name from its crown appearance on electron microscopy. Long term consequences are not known yet. But, infection resulting in pneumonia can be life threatening. Coughing droplets, laden with virus, spreads airborne and contaminates surfaces that can be touched by anyone.
What are the symptoms associated with COVID-19? Fever, cough, headache, sore throat, difficulty breathing and runny nose. However, symptom overlap with Flu A and B can make recognition of COVID-19 without a coronavirus test problematic. Do not take chances! If you suspect you have the coronavirus, call your physician or Rutland Regional Medical Center and GET TESTED. This virus is nothing to be cavalier about. It has a predilection for those who are immunocompromised regardless of reason. Individuals with pre-existing lung ailments and those over 50 are affected most severely. COVID-19 can be fatal!
“Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence”Michael Osterholm
Just because you do not have symptoms does not mean you are not infected or carrying the COVID- 19 virus, to others. You may be infected and not manifest severe symptoms. Remember, you can pick up the virus unknowingly by contact with a contaminated surface, then transmit the virus to a friend or loved one. Be aware. Be careful. It is our responsibility not to spread infection.
Personal Responsibility- Optimism
President’s Coronavirus Guidelines for America details actions we all can take to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 Pandemic in our community and maintain our personal health and safety. Click on this link, read and take action.
Leaders Communicate- Encourage
Dr. Anthony Fauci and Dr. Deborah Brix, lead medical counsel to the Task Force intoned, dampening the geometric progression of spread of this virus in the U.S. will save lives. Simultaneously, we want to treat those who are infected most effectively and with utmost compassion. We are all in this together and each can do their part to help. Just on the horizon physicians are hopeful that Hydroxychoroquine, Azithromycin, and Remdesivir prove effective with most severe cases of COVID-19. This is wonderful news!
We are called to participate in the mitigation solution by doing our personal best to honor practices for personal cleanliness, self quarantine, social distancing and travel limits.
Consequently, the economic engine of Vermont and most of the country is in idle or park… for the moment. Dental office, “pause”. It’s a tough time. The Feds reassure, “help is on the way” and I don’t believe we’ve been abandoned. Neither should you. Maintain your optimism!
Let’s do our part individually, collectively to get beyond this together. Spring is just around the corner. Keep the faith. Stay healthy. See you soon!
President’s Coronavirus Guidelines for America- 15 Days to Slow the Spread
Vermont Department of Health- Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)
American Dental Association- ADA Coronavirus Center for Dentists
Center for Disease Control and Prevention- Coronavirus (COVID-19
World Health Organization- Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) Pandemic
American Journal of Neruoradiology- Coronavirus: What Citizens of the World Need to Know