Editor’s note: This story has been updated with comments from the New York State Dental Association.
But the New York State Dental Association says it believes regular dental care is allowed under phase two, and it’s using some language from the governor’s executive order to make its point.
“The Governor’s office has not informed NYSDA that dentists are not part of the Phase II reopening, nor answered our previous requests for clarification on this point,” association spokeswoman Grazia Yaeger said in response to syracuse.com’s questions today.
Dentists “are an essential business but open only for emergency dental,” Cuomo spokesman Jason Conwall emailed today to syracuse.com.
Another top Cuomo official said this afternoon that expanded dental services are not part of phase two. Rich Azzopardi also said the governor’s office would have news shortly.
The state’s website also states that dentists are able to operate under restrictions and offer emergency care.
But the state’s dental association argues that dentistry is a “professional service,” which is included as a category in phase two reopening plans.
Cuomo signed an executive order Friday reopening some business sectors in five regions of the state, including in Central New York.
That order says “the reductions and restrictions on the in-person workforce at non-essential businesses or other entities” no longer apply to certain industries, including professional services. The U.S. Department of Labor defines dentistry as a professional service, according to Yaeger.
Yet, New York has defined dentistry as an essential business during the coronavirus pandemic.
Syracuse.com began reporting about the confusion after Ann Marie Adornato, a periodontist who practices in Liverpool, reached out and asked for clarity. Yet Adornato said she hadn’t heard that directly from any state official.
“The governor has not come out and said that, and there’s confusion about it,” she said.
She said worried about bringing back patients and staff — who are on unemployment — only to find out that dentists were not part of phase two.
Adornato said she’s been providing emergency care, going into her office on Route 57 about once a week. She said if the state did expand dentistry services, she would be ready to go. She has protective gear, including face shields, in stock. Her office plans to stagger appointments and have people wait outside for care.
“We deal with infections everyday,” she said.
New York has a reopening tool on its website that allows you to look up information by region, business and phase.
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