Official State of Rhode Island website
COVID-19 Vaccine FAQ’s for Rhode Island residents
For immediate assistance with COVID-19 inquiries, please call the COVID-19 Information Line at 401-222-8022, Monday-Friday, 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. or email our new inbox at [email protected]. For all other inquiries, please call the Health Information Line at 401-222-5960, Monday-Friday, 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. or email [email protected].
Oral healthcare is recognized as an essential component of overall health. It’s critical that infection prevention and control practices are in place to protect the health and safety of patients and dental healthcare personnel (DHCP) during the COVID-19 pandemic. We continue to learn about the transmission and severity of COVID-19 and the implications for dental practice. DHCP have a very high potential for exposure to COVID-19 if performing certain aerosol-generating procedures on known or suspected COVID-19 patients. Therefore, when providing care, these patients should be isolated in a room with effective ventilation.
Dental settings should balance the need to provide necessary services while minimizing risk to patients and DHCP. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has developed a framework for healthcare personnel and healthcare systems for delivery of non-emergent care during the COVID-19 pandemic. DHCP should use their clinical judgment in determining those procedures that can be performed safely and effectively at this time. The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) recommends continued review of Guidance for Dental Settings from the CDC and defers to this guidance in areas of question.
The following summarizes what DHCP need to do to assure safe care. Individual dental practices will need to review this guidance and customize it for their clinical setting. This guidance represents suggested minimum standards, and some practices will choose to exceed these standards:
Individual healthcare facilities can choose whether to require the use of face masks. RIDOH recommends wearing a mask in all healthcare settings.
Questions are welcome and answered via email at [email protected].
The most effective way to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and to protect against severe illness, hospitalization, and death is to stay up to date with your COVID-19 vaccinations. To find a COVID-19 vaccine near you, visit C19VaccineRI.org.
Rhode Island regulations (216-RICR-20-15-7) require that healthcare workers are up to date with their COVID-19 vaccines, meaning a person has received all recommended doses of COVID-19—including any booster doses when eligible—or wear a National Institute for Occupational Safety & Health (NIOSH)-approved N-95 mask while working in licensed healthcare facilities when community transmission rates are greater than or equal to 50 cases per 100,000 people. Dental professionals who provide care in any licensed facility or nursing home need to wear an N-95 mask if they are not up to date with their vaccines and community transmission rates are greater than or equal to 50 cases per 100,000 people cases.
Who is covered by the regulation?
Healthcare workers: A healthcare worker is any person who is temporarily or permanently employed by a healthcare facility, or who volunteers in a healthcare facility, or any person who is compensated by a third party that has an agreement with a healthcare facility to provide staffing services, and has or may have direct contact with a patient in that healthcare facility. This may include, but is not limited to physicians, nurses, social workers, technicians, occupational speech therapists, laboratory personnel, dental personnel, pharmacists, students and trainees, contractual staff not employed by the healthcare facility, and persons not directly involved in patient care but who may be exposed to infectious agents (e.g., clerical, housekeeping, laundry, security, maintenance, administrative, billing, and volunteers).
Healthcare facilities: A healthcare facility is a facility as defined in R.I. Gen. Laws § 23-17-2(9) and includes assisted living residences, as well as adult daycare programs, as defined in R.I. Gen. Laws § 23-1-52 and stations, as defined in R.I. Gen. Laws § 23-16.2-2.
Please note that dental offices, with the exception of those in hospitals, health centers, or joined with other medical services, are not considered licensed healthcare facilities, as defined in R.I. Gen. Laws § 23-17- 2(9).
Vaccinated and unvaccinated healthcare workers should follow quarantine and isolation guidance in case of exposure to COVID-19.
This guidance represents suggested minimum standards, and some practices will choose to exceed these standards:
If they live together, the staff member, if not vaccinated, should quarantine and follow the guidance on the Quarantine and Isolation page under If you’re not up to date on your vaccines and someone you live with tests positive. Vaccinated contacts who are asymptomatic do not need to quarantine.
Quarantining staff may work if their role is critical to the functioning of the office, and all other staffing options have been exhausted. If they work, they must check their symptoms and temperature every four hours while working, wear appropriate PPE, and return directly home after each shift to continue their quarantine.
The staff member should follow RIDOH’s isolation guidance.
Determine if any staff members had close contact of a total of 15 minutes or more within six feet of the patient without adequate PPE using the COVID-19 Close Contact Determination in Patient Care Settings tool. The staff member should quarantine. Adequate PPE is a mask and face shield for non-aerosol generating procedure, and an N-95 mask and a face shield for aerosol-generating procedures. Consider whether extended aerosol-generating procedures with a brief break before the next patient and limited air filtration in that physical space could pose a risk for patients who followed the patient who later tested positive. If there was a risk, consider sending a letter to advise the patients who followed to watch for symptoms. A RIDOH template of this letter is available in English and Spanish to place on office letterhead.
Review the definition of a close contact with the patient. Close contact means you’ve been within six feet of someone who has COVID-19 symptoms for a total of 15 minutes or more in a 24-hour period, or less time if the person had active coughing or spitting. If the patient is a close contact and unvaccinated, they should quarantine and not come in for their appointment. If the need is urgent, the dentist can assess the risk and benefit of an in-person visit, especially if working with vaccinated personnel. If they are not a close contact, they can come in if they are not symptomatic and if they follow masking and physical distancing guidelines.
Offices should review which patients were in the office during the staff member’s infectious period, which is two days before the first symptom or, in the case of asymptomatic staff, two days before the positive test.
New variants are believed to be more contagious. Patients who were within six feet of the infected staff member for a total of 15 minutes or more should quarantine. Even if staff were masked, the patient’s proximity to the staff member and their lack of protection put them at risk for exposure. For additional guidance, call 401-222-8022 to be connected with the Healthcare Team.
For patients who were within six feet of the infected staff member for a total of less than 15 minutes, offices are advised to communicate to them that someone with COVID-19 may have been in the office during their visit and to watch for symptoms.
Use the tools below to assess whether a staff member or patient who tests positive for COVID-19 may have exposed others in the practice. RIDOH encourages practices to use these tools to identify and inform staff and patients who are close contacts and should quarantine, and to instruct them to self-monitor for symptoms for 14 days from exposure.