Is it safe to visit the dentist?

It has been more than eight months since the coronavirus pandemic forced lockdowns, which means it is past time for most people to get their regular dental exam and cleaning.

The pandemic has created fear about a slate of normal activities, particularly ones that require close contact indoors, like going to the dentist.

But dentists are doing their part to reassure people that it is safe to come to the office.

“The transmission of COVID in the dental office is practically nonexistent,” said Dr. Richard Nagy, president of the California Dental Association on KCBS Radio’s “Ask An Expert” program Wednesday.

That is because dentists are well-versed in infection control policies.

“Ever since the mid-eighties when the HIV scare came, dental offices were the leaders in infection control policies for blood borne pathogens,” explained Dr. Nagy.

He says between state of the art PPE, face masks, face shields and disinfectants, the likelihood of transmission is low.

And if you really feel concerned, talk to your dentist about their safety practices and give them the chance to assuage your worries. Dr. Nagy says while it might feel strange, you could even ask the dentist about their COVID status.

“I think that’s a valid question for the dentist and I think most dentists would be very happy to answer that because again, the answer would be, ‘no I don’t have COVID as well as my staff or my office has not seen COVID patients’.”

And with many more months to go before the majority of Americans have access to a coronavirus vaccine, Dr. Nagy says it is time to stop putting off seeing the dentist.

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New program is launched for safe medicine disposal

The Medication Education & Disposal Project has launched a statewide program to offer free services to dispose of expired, unwanted and unused medicines.

Safe Medication Return is operated by MED-Project, which is the Washington State Department of Health’s approved program operator.

Drug manufacturers fund the program at no cost to taxpayers.

MED-Project provides state residents with year-round medicine drop-off locations such as at pharmacies, medical facilities and law enforcement offices. Along with existing operations in several counties, MED-Project has activated about 150 additional drop-off sites.

Residents who prefer mailing back unwanted medicine for disposal can request free prepaid and preauthorized packages. Information is at, or people can call (844) 633-7765.

MED-Project also is launching a public awareness campaign about safe disposal of unwanted medicine. A mobile-friendly website provides drop-off location information and instructions, as well as downloadable educational materials.

“We want to encourage Washington state residents to take their medication as prescribed, store it safely and dispose of unwanted or expired medicine securely,” said Dr. Victoria Travis, MED-Project’s national program director, in a news release.

For more information about the MED-Project drug takeback program and available services in Washington state, including accepted types of medication, call (844) 633-7765 or visit the website.

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Dentist offices remain ‘extremely safe’ during coronavirus pandemic

Cesareo Contreras
| MetroWest Daily News

ASHLAND –  More than nine months into the coronavirus pandemic, many local businesses are still struggling to get by. But for Dr. Sandra Cove, who owns a dental office at 37 Main St., business has been great.  

“People are knocking the door down,” she said. 

The anxiety of the pandemic is weighing down on many. And that is often reflected on oral health, Cove said.

It’s not uncommon for Cove to see people around the holidays come in with problems, given the stress during this time of year. She is seeing patients with major dental issues at a rate she has never seen in her career. 

From cavities and inflamed gums to chipped and infected teeth, the issues are various.  

“We have this phenomenon in dentistry. Whenever people are under a lot of stress, a lot crazy things happen – a lot of root canals and broken teeth,” she said. “A lot of this stuff happens around Christmas time and Thanksgiving and it only lasts for a week or two, but this going on for six months, where every day, I must have two or three broken teeth due to stress or people gums are completely on fire because they are overreacting to the bacteria because their defenses are down.” 

Dr. MaryJane Hanlon, president of the Massachusetts Dental Society, said she isn’t surprised by number of patients Cove has seen with new and serious dental problems.  

“Sandra, I know, is very busy, and many practices are busy,” she said. “Some practices never slowed down. They saw a lot of emergency care. … The bottom line is that we are seeing a breakdown because people were very concerned about going to the dentist. ” 

While some dental offices are doing well, others have been hit hard.  

Hanlon is the dean of operations at Tufts University and manages all of the school’s clinical operations. Unlike Cove, she said she has seen a decline in the number of people visiting the clinic. Before the pandemic, the college would see around 600 people a day. Now they are seeing half of that. 

In June, the association conducted a survey to better understand how dental offices in the state were faring during the pandemic. The survey was taken by more than 400 dental practice owners. 

More than half of responders said they expect it to take between seven months to over a year to get the number of patients they had before the pandemic hit. 

Nearly 90% of dental practices are spending between $8 – $29 or greater per patient on personal protective equipment, according to survey. 

Moreover, more than half or respondents said the pandemic has cost their practice $225,000 in office upgrades and loss in patients. 

Cove said she thinks a big reason why people are coming to her office is because they feel reassured that the appropriate measures are in place to keep them safe from the coronavirus. 

After the start of pandemic in March, Cove

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Residents gear up for a safe, sanitised Dubai Fitness Challenge

a person on a court: Residents gear up for a safe, sanitised Dubai Fitness Challenge

© Provided by Khaleej Times
Residents gear up for a safe, sanitised Dubai Fitness Challenge

Armed with a packed calendar of over 200 virtual sessions and 2,000 classes across 150 locations, Dubai residents are all set to welcome a ‘safe and sanitised’ fourth edition of the Dubai Fitness Challenge (DFC).

Most of the residents have already made fitness a big part of their lifestyle this year, due to the pandemic. While several people have taken up running and yoga, there has also been a big boost people using YouTube and other video portals for at-home workout routines.

Tanya Zag, a Dubai-resident said being indoors amid the curfews took a toll on her mental well-being. “I began running a few months ago and it has become the best stress buster for me. It empowers me and even if I have had a tough day at work, running takes all my worries away.”

“I am really looking forward to the DFC this year. The entire city is buzzing with electrical energy, which is fantastic,” she added.

Jhona Meryl, a fitness influencer said: “It’s really exciting because it’s a collective effort, and the best part is that when people do something continuously for 30 days, it becomes a habit and enforces positivity, which is something people really need right now.”

Day 1 of DFC

Starting today, residents are all set with their athletic wear, yoga mats, personal exercise tools, and of course, their face masks for outdoor activities. To ensure social distancing, prior booking has been made essential for all events on

The annual event, launched in 2017 by Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of the Dubai Executive Council, is one of the most sought events where families and individuals break a sweat, irrespective of their fitness levels.

The hybrid event has promised to make fitness easy and accessible to all – from young adults, teenagers, families, older residents and people of determination, to businesses and schools.

Saeed Hareb, Secretary-General of Dubai Sports Council, has promised the event will maintain strict safety and hygiene regulations, social distancing guidelines and sanitisation requirements.

“For us, sports are an essential activity at all times, but it has become even more important in this period of Covid-19. Exercising and staying fit strengthens your immune system and a strong immune system is your best defence against illness,” he said.

What to look forward to?

Residents can look forward to a packed calendar of free fitness events, sports activities, health and wellness programmes and virtual sessions, including three dedicated Fitness Villages, ten community-centric Fitness Hubs.

Participants can unlock free 30-day programmes from leading global apps – Fitbit Premium, NEOU, Steppi, Sweat, Sworkit, Daily Burn, FIIT and Les Mills on Demand.

This year, the challenge is placing an elevated focus on at-home sessions with the Find Your 30 virtual content hub. Free-to-access, the facility is being hosted on the DFC website, allowing participants

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Are Outdoor Fitness Classes Safe During the Coronavirus Pandemic?

In addition to the fact that instructors and class participants weren’t required to wear a mask during their workouts, health experts believe that the large class size, small space, and intensity of the workout were all factors that played into the high rates of transmission. (In fact, no class participants in a low-intensity yoga class ended up testing positive.)

“Granted, people weren’t wearing masks and it was in an indoor space,” Dr. Wong says. “These people were just dancing, but they were breathing heavily, which made the risk of transmission very high.”

Are outdoor fitness classes any safer?

Just like outdoor dining, health experts say that outdoor fitness classes are much safer than indoor ones because they allow for better airflow and ventilation. This can better disperse respiratory droplets, potentially reducing the risk of them landing on your mouth or eyes, or on surfaces that you may touch and then transfer to your mouth, nose, and eyes. It also likely reduces the risk of airborne transmission as well.

Humberto Choi, M.D., a pulmonologist at the Cleveland Clinic who treats COVID-19 patients in the intensive care unit, adds that the breeze—which aids airflow—also plays a role in making outdoor classes a safer option.

That’s why many gyms and studios have begun offering outdoor offerings. For example, the Fhitting Room, a HIIT studio based in New York City, recently started hosting outdoor classes in Central Park, Fort Greene Park in Brooklyn, and on the rooftop at Showfields.

Plus, SoulCycle is offering its indoor cycling classes outdoors in Hoboken and Short Hills in New Jersey; Hudson Yards, Bridgehampton and Montauk in New York; Union Market in Washington, D.C.; downtown L.A., Santa Monica, and Manhattan Beach in California, among others. And if you’re in the mood to dance, 305 Fitness has 45-minute outdoor group classes in New York City, Boston, and Washington, D.C.

Health experts say that while the risk of transmission isn’t completely eliminated with outdoor fitness classes, it’s significantly lower.

“If you’re outdoors, the risk is not zero, but it is much lower than indoors,” Dr. Weisenberg says. “Exercise and heavy breathing may increase this chance, but it should still be low, as long as you are outside and social distancing is maintained. Mask wearing can further reduce this risk.” (More on this later.)

How can you stay safe in an outdoor fitness class?

While generally speaking, an outdoor fitness class is going to be a safer option than an indoor one, all outdoor classes are not the same in risk level—and there are some things in your control (and some in your gym’s) that can make them safer or riskier.

Location and setup is one of these factors. For example, some classes might claim to be outdoors on a rooftop, but it’s actually on a rooftop that’s semi-covered, Dr. Wong says—which brings up the whole ventilation issue again. “That may not be as safe as a completely open rooftop, so people need to be mindful of those,” she says.

The smaller

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Is it safe to go to the dentist right now? What to know before you go


Deciding if you should go to the dentist now is a personal choice — here’s what the WHO and the ADA have to say.

Getty Images
For the most up-to-date news and information about the coronavirus pandemic, visit the WHO website.

If you’ve never been a fan of going to the dentist, then you may have an excuse to skip your routine visit this year — depending on your views about COVID-19 safety. Dental cleanings and check-ups are important to keep your mouth healthy and avoid costly procedures, like a root canal, down the line. But because of the coronavirus pandemic, there is conflicting guidance out there about whether or not you should still go to the dentist for non-emergency appointments.

The WHO released a statement in August recommending that people skip routine dental check ups and cleaning during the COVID-19 pandemic. It said you should only visit the dentist for necessary procedures, including if you have pain, an infection or need emergency attention. In the meantime, the WHO recommends using “remote consultations” if you’re not sure if you should see a dentist or not. 

In response, the American Dental Association released a statement saying it “strongly” disagrees with the WHO’s advice on dental care and that going to the dentist is essential. “Dentistry is essential health care because of its role in evaluating, diagnosing, preventing or treating oral diseases, which can affect systemic health,” ADA president Dr. Chad P. Gehani, DDS said in the statement. 

Although you should talk to your own dentist before making any swift decisions, safety concerns around visiting the dentist are not clear-cut this year. I talked to an orthodontist to get more information on navigating this complicated (and personal) decision.

Why going to the dentist may be risky 

“The relative safety of visiting the dentist right now is very state and individual-specific. For those states with surging numbers of cases of COVID-19, I would advise to see your dentist only in the case of emergency (severe pain or infection),” Dr. Heather Kunen, DDS, MS and cofounder of Beam Street said.

According to the WHO report, the nature of oral health visits creates a risk of contracting the coronavirus for both patients and health care workers, because of the ways experts believe the virus is transmitted. First, there’s evidence that respiratory droplets produced by coughing, sneezing and talking spread the virus. Because they are working in your mouth and are in close contact with you (far closer than 6 feet), your dental provider will be exposed to those droplets — along with blood and saliva.

Second, the WHO suggests that the coronavirus can be spread through aerosol transmission. Many common dental procedures, such as a teeth cleaning, generate aerosols, which puts the workers at risk of contracting the virus.


It’s important to talk to your dentist before you make any decisions about oral health care. 

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In addition

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Relieved to Be Back at the Gym, but Is It Safe?

The coronavirus has made a routine trip to the gym feel like a health threat.

Many epidemiologists consider gyms to be among the highest-risk environments, and they were some of the last businesses to reopen in New York City in early September.

Now gyms must comply with a long list of regulations. Checking in requires a health screening; masks are mandatory, even during the most strenuous workouts; only one-third of normal occupancy is allowed; and everyone must clean, then clean some more.

At a Planet Fitness in Brooklyn, Dinara Izmagambetova, who wore a floral black face mask and had a sheen of sweat after completing a two-hour workout, said she was thrilled to be back in a gym. But safety measures had made it a less sociable experience, she said.

“I could ask someone” how to use a machine before the outbreak, Ms. Izmagambetova said. “Now I’m doing a lot of Googling.”

Despite all the safety guidelines, some fitness enthusiasts are reluctant to go back and many have adapted to virtual workouts and exercising outdoors. Sales of fitness equipment like kettlebells and Peloton bikes have skyrocketed as people brought their workouts home.

Christopher Carbone plans to cancel his membership at a Planet Fitness branch near his home on Staten Island because of concerns about people who touch “the same equipment many times and excess sweat and breathing in range of others.”

Instead of going to the gym, Mr. Carbone will keep working out at home with a small set of hand weights.

In normal times, gyms often served as places of solace, where fitness buffs and casual exercisers could sweat out the stresses of the day.

Many former patrons are eager to return to their routines, and gym owners desperately need their business.

But even as gyms have reopened, their future remains unclear. Some of them have had to shut down again after Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo recently designated parts of Brooklyn and Queens coronavirus hot spots.

A Retro Fitness location in Rego Park, Queens, formerly in one of Mr. Cuomo’s “red zones,” expressed regret about closing on its Facebook page.

“We have done our best to stay open as long as possible to serve you,” the post said, adding, “We support the city/county’s decision as being in the best interest of our members, staff, and community to help curb the spread of Coronavirus.”

The gym was recently allowed to reopen as some restrictions were eased.

Despite scientists’ concerns, infection clusters connected to gyms in the United States have been relatively rare so far, though they have been reported in Hawaii and California.

“We’re not seeing outbreaks tied to gyms as heavily as something like a bar or school,” said Saskia Popescu, an epidemiologist from George Mason University.

Still, a number of the 2,000 or so gyms in New York State and fitness centers across the country face a fight for life. At least one-fourth of the more than 40,000 gyms in the United States could close by the end

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A travel group report says flying is safe. The doctor whose research it cited says not so fast.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA), a global airline trade group representing 290 carriers in 120 countries, published a report this month aiming to reassure grounded travelers about the future of flying. The group collected medical journal data on in-flight coronavirus cases and used it to declare that commercial flights have a “low incidence of inflight COVID-19 transmission” when masks are worn.

(Illustration by Woody Harrington for The Washington Post)

(Illustration by Woody Harrington for The Washington Post)

Following an abundance of new research, the report says, only 44 cases of coronavirus have been linked to a flight, during a period when 1.2 billion passengers traveled.

But a doctor whose work was cited in the report says that the group is misrepresenting his findings by only counting proven flight-linked cases that were published in medical journals.

“IATA is taking it to an extreme saying there’s ‘little’ risk in flying,” says David Freedman, an infectious-disease specialist at the University of Alabama whose study is cited in the IATA report. “What they want is to throw this number on the risk of flying … and we don’t know what that risk is yet. I’m not saying the risk is high, but there is some risk. It just looks like masks help a lot.”

Is it safer to fly or drive during the pandemic? 5 health experts weigh in.

The bottom line, Freedman says, is that cases linked to air travel are very difficult to scientifically prove because passengers are not usually monitored after flying and therefore are not tallied if they become sick. It’s also nearly impossible to determine whether sick passengers picked up the virus on a plane as opposed to in an airport or on the way there, he says. “And if you can’t prove it, it doesn’t end up in a journal.”

Freedman’s cited study, published in September 2020, says that “the absence of large numbers of published in-flight transmissions of SARS-CoV-2 is not definitive evidence of safety.”

While an abundance of in-flight research on covid-19 has recently come to light, Freedman is not alone in his assessment that it’s unclear if flying is a low-risk endeavor amid the pandemic.

Brad Pollock, the associate dean of public health sciences at the University of California at Davis, agrees with Freedman’s assessment of IATA’s report, calling it an “overreach.” Studies do not account for unpredictable passengers who board planes every day, he says.

“There’s movement in the cabin to consider, but also so many people improperly wear a mask below their nostrils,” Pollock says. “That’s more of an issue than what kind of mask they’re wearing. If everyone wears their mask properly on the plane, we’re going to be much better off.”

In September, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that nearly 11,000 people have been potentially exposed to the coronavirus on flights. The CDC told The Washington Post that of those in-flight exposures, “an absence of cases identified or reported is not evidence that there were no cases.” On Monday, it updated its guidance to

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Stellarex Paclitaxel Coated Balloon Safe, Durable in PAD

A long-term real-world experience with Stellarex (Philips) drug-coated balloons (DCB) in the periphery strengthens the mass of recent evidence largely acquitting it and other paclitaxel-coated devices of any special mortality hazard.

A 4-year analysis based on the ILLUMENATE Global postmarket registry suggested that the DCB was safe and effective in a broad population of patients with often complex femoropopliteal lesions, fewer than one-third of whom required stents on a provisional basis.

Their target-limb amputation rate was only 0.8% and all-cause mortality was 8.1%, “very low for a cardiovascular patient group with claudication,” said Andrew Holden, MB, ChB, Auckland City Hospital, New Zealand, reporting the results during TCT Connect, the virtual edition of Transcatheter Cardiovascular Therapeutics (TCT) 2020.

The findings were consistent across prospectively defined subgroups by sex, diabetes, and target-lesion length, as well as the broader ILLUMENATE trial experience encompassing more than 2000 patients, he said.

And they impressed observers at TCT Connect, who called for an end to any stigma against paclitaxel-coated devices in peripheral vascular disease (PAD) and for tighter focus on randomized trials to refine their selection and targeted use.

As chronicled at length by | Medscape Cardiology, a controversial meta-analysis published in December 2018 upended clinical trials looking at paclitaxel-coated devices for PAD revascularization by tying them to an almost 70% jump in relative risk (RR) for mortality at 2 years and a 93% RR increase at 5 years.

The findings led to a warning letter regarding the alleged risk from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), followed by a comprehensive public analysis by the agency and its independent advisors in June 2019, which acknowledged the existence of a safety signal.

Four months later, the FDA approved two sizes of the Stellarex for de novo and restenotic lesions in the superficial femoral and popliteal arteries. They joined other Stellarex DCBs and paclitaxel-coated peripheral devices already on the market, all of which account for the safety signal in their labeling.

“The mortality at 4 years is strikingly low. Normally, in a population like this, we would expect it to be at least 10% to 20% at 4 years,” Peter A. Schneider, MD, University of California, San Francisco, said as an observer of ILLUMENATE-Global at a media briefing.

“So, far from a doubling of mortality risk with paclitaxel, actually this appears to be less than what we would expect for a population like this.”

At the same press conference, Robert Lookstein, MD, MHCDL, said the findings represent “just really spectacular data in a real world subset — high degrees of severe calcification, high preponderance of diabetics. I think this just further reinforces the broad consensus among vascular specialists that DCB has really become the go-to therapy for patients with lifestyle-limiting claudication.”

ILLUMENATE-Global “is just another valuable contribution to the literature suggesting that this Stellarex balloon is a safe and effective technology in a real-world population,” said Lookstein, Ichan School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York City.

“I think right now, many of us are

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Are Nursing Homes Safe Now? Kansas Facility Sees All Residents Test Positive For COVID-19

A Kansas nursing home has seen all 62 of its residents test positive for COVID-19 along with an unspecified number of staff members.

The coronavirus outbreak at the Norton County, Kansas-based Andbe Home nursing home resulted in the death of 10 residents and one hospitalization, with the remaining patients being treated at the facility, the Norton County Health Department confirmed on Monday night.

The health department said in a statement that the residents were being quarantined in their rooms and were not being allowed outside visitors.

Kansas has reported an average of more than 700 new positive cases of the coronavirus and probable cases of the virus a day – the largest reporting since early March, CBS News reported.

With the risk of contracting the coronavirus higher in elderly adults, many nursing homes are seeing cases spike as the pandemic continues to wage on. At the height of the outbreak at the Life Care Center nursing home in Kirkland, Washington, was an epicenter for the virus, with nearly two-thirds of its residents testing positive for the virus, KIRO, a Fox affiliate out of Seattle reported. At least 37 people died at the nursing home from the outbreak.

Just this week, a Rensselaer County nursing home in Texas reported that 10 residents tested positive for the virus, with 14 staff members also confirmed to have COVID-19, the Houston Chronicle reported.

A study in the journal JAMA indicated that while the coronavirus has a fatality rate of 1% to 2% overall, but in older patients in China, it was as high as 8% to 15%. The rapid spread of the coronavirus can make elderly adults more susceptible to the virus, which can cause more severe complications, NPR reported.

The news outlet also said that because elderly people have a reduced immune response, they become more vulnerable to spreading viruses such as the coronavirus. This becomes further complicated at nursing homes that are short-staffed and have personal protective equipment shortages, AARP said.

The U.S. has reported over 8.2 million positive cases of the coronavirus, with over 220,000 COVID-19 deaths, according to data from John Hopkins University.

Health workers -- from cleaning crews to doctors, in hospitals and nursing homes -- have been hit hard by the pandemic Health workers — from cleaning crews to doctors, in hospitals and nursing homes — have been hit hard by the pandemic Photo: AFP / Dimitar DILKOFF

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