Amid political turmoil over when and how and how to quickly reopen Wisconsin, there came a point on May 11, 2020, when Gov. Tony Evers softened his “at home” order to allow small retail outlets to reopen, until are limited customers to five or less.
The state’s Supreme Court later voted 4-3 to completely overturn Evers’ order, saying his administration had to work with GOP-controlled legislation on any permanent restrictions.
In the midst of Evers ’action on May 11, State Envoy Janel Brandtjen, R-Menomonee Falls, offered this tweet targeted at Evers:
@Gov Evers beverage stores are open, malls can have 5 customers, but dentists don’t matter ?!
Is he right?
Were dentists considered irrelevant by ordering a safer home?
Short answer: No.
Executive order of the governor
Let’s start with the order itself: Executive order no. 28
In Article 13, core enterprises include health care and public health operations. And elsewhere in the order, dental practices are classified into healthcare and as public health surgeries. So that order did not block dentists from seeing patients.
Meanwhile, an online map of the American Dental Association that tracks the extent to which dentists across the country have been able to offer services shows the vast majority of states, including Wisconsin, that allow for election and emergency procedures. Of that, the map, on May 14, 2020, showed seven states that allow only emergency procedures. (No state had dental offices completely closed.)
In addition, Wisconsin is listed among only four states – including California, Rhode Island and Delaware – that dentists have explicitly identified as necessary.
However, the American Dental Association recommends that dentists remain open only to urgent procedures and postpone election procedures. The Wisconsin Dental Association also follows ADA recommendations.
Similarly, the state Department of Health recommends that dentists follow the guidelines of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which include postponing election procedures and emergency room visits.
On a practical level, many dental practices have maintained routine visits, such as cleaning and checkups. But it was because of their own choice and in line with the guidelines of dental groups and health agencies. It was not banned by Evers’ order.
Asked to have a back-up claim for the claim that dentists are considered insignificant, Brandtjen did not cite the order itself.
Instead, she said in an email that Wisconsin dentists plan to open their surgeries in early May, but claims the state health services office has notified the Dental Examination Board that those who do so may jeopardize licenses.
Jennifer Garrett, communications director in the Department of Safety and Professional Services, said examination board members advised legal advisers on May 6, 2020, that dentists should follow DHS guidelines and may face penalties if they fail to do so.
But, as proof, that is not true, especially with such a narrow claim.
As noted, Evers ’order declared dentists crucial – contrary to what Brandtjen claimed.
Brandtjen tweeted that, on Evers ’orders, dentists were classified as irrelevant, so they had to stay closed.
But Evers ’order – unlike those of many other governors – explicitly declared dentists, as well as other health professionals, crucial. They were therefore allowed to remain open, even if many chose to limit their offer to emergency jobs.
We judge Brandtjen’s claim to be false.