Gov. Jay Inslee during a televised news conference on Monday. (TVW)

Gov. Jay Inslee during a televised news conference on Monday. (TVW)

State issues guidance on dental care, medical appointments

Resumption of those practices depends on adequate protective equipment and patient screening.

Gov. Jay Inslee cleared the way May 15 for teeth cleanings, annual physicals and elective surgeries to resume throughout Washington.

The governor issued much-anticipated guidance dentists and medical practitioners must follow. The rules are intended to protect their employees and patients from exposure to coronavirus, which causes the potentially deadly COVID-19.

Inslee, who announced the measures at news conference, described it as “one more step” on the path to reopening the economy and reviving public life, mostly shuttered under a stay-home order issued two months ago to blunt the virus’ spread.

And this latest action came three days after release of a report containing the first concrete measurement of the financial toll wrought by the pandemic.

It shows tax revenues came in $428.5 million below a forecast issued in February. The analysis, compiled by the state’s chief economist, covers collections mainly from March that are reported between April 11 and May 10.

Of the total, about $200 million are taxes the state Department of Revenue is allowing businesses to defer paying due to the economic crisis.

The rest of the lost tax receipts is a direct result of the lockdown of nonessential businesses, professional services and nonurgent medical and dental care, all of which generate sales and business taxes for state coffers.

Car and truck sales plummeted in March with new vehicle registrations falling 63.5%. Tax payments generated by restaurants, bars, and lodging establishments were 35.2% lower than the prior year. Sales of clothing, furniture, sporting goods, toys, books and music all fell by double-digit percentages, according to the monthly Economic and Revenue Update.

However, tax receipts from essential businesses that have not been closed, such as supermarkets and sellers of building supplies and appliances were higher in March than the prior year.

The latest figures align roughly with a preliminary analysis prepared two weeks ago by Steve Lerch, the state’s chief economist. At that time, he suggested revenue collections could be down $756 million through the end of June and nearly $3.8 billion by the end of the current budget in mid-2021.

While the state’s economy will not turnaround quickly, Monday marked a stride forward as Inslee welcomed reopening of dental and medical practices and encouaged residents to not delay treatment they might need or desire.

Among the most critical requirements of his guidance is for each practice to have adequate quantities of appropriate personal protective equipment for workers. Other rules include screening patients and visitors for symptoms of the highly transmissible virus, including taking their temperatures.

Doctors and dentists must implement social-distancing measures and frequently clean and sanitize high-touch surfaces in waiting rooms, offices and treatment areas. They must craft plans of how they could expand or contract services based on whether there’s an outbreak in their community.

Statewide, as of May 15, the cumulative death count was 1,002 among 18,611 cases.


In consideration of how we voice our opinions in the modern world, we’ve closed comments on our websites. We value the opinions of our readers and we encourage you to keep the conversation going.

Please feel free to share your story tips by emailing editor@bellevuereporter.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.bellevuereporter.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) We reserve the right to edit letters, but if you keep yours to 300 words or less, we won’t ask you to shorten it.

More in News

Screenshot from Gov. Jay Inslee’s press conference on Aug. 5, 2020.
Inslee says schools in virus hot spots should stay closed

King County among high-risk counties; several school districts will have remote learning in the fall.

Photo by Porapak Apichodilok/Pexels
Bellevue reopens aquatic center

Swimmers must make reservations for pool use

King County Election headquarters in Renton on Aug. 4 for the primary election. Haley Ausbun/staff photo
Inslee and Culp lead governor race; incumbent Dems ahead for Congress | Statewide results

Early results for governor, state schools chief, attorney general and more.

Democrats dominate King County legislative races | Election results

Here are the latest results for King County legislative candidates in the… Continue reading

Inslee mask graphic
Free mask event for King County residents, Aug. 4 in Bellevue

The drive-thru distribution event will offer two masks per person

Primary election 2020: Who will emerge as Inslee’s challenger?

Voting ends Tuesday in an election without big rallies and fund-raisers and face-to-face debates

Sex ed, local control at heart of race for WA state schools chief

Incumbent Chris Reykdal faces five foes who argue he’s pushing too many state policies on school districts.

Screenshot of the 2020 Bellevue Downtown Association State of the City. Pictured: Mayor Lynne Robinson, Deputy Mayor Jared Nieuwenhuis and BDA President Patrick Bannon.
City leaders talk economic outlook, police reform and more with Bellevue Downtown Association

The annual State of the City with the BDA was held as a virtual fireside chat, livestreamed Thursday, July 30

(files)
County Fire Marshal issues burn ban

Dry conditions and high heats are in the forecast this week

Most Read