COVID-19 and Dentistry Timeline

From creating guides and resources to help reduce the risk of COVID-19 spread to advocating on behalf of the dental community, the dental profession and organized dentistry have responded to the global COVID-19 pandemic to help protect dentists, the dental team and their patients. Explore this interactive timeline to learn more on how the profession navigated the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The ADA and COVID-19 data

dentists receive personal protective equipment:
accessed the Return to Work Interim Guidance Toolkit:
emails from dentists to lawmakers:

Dec. 31, 2019

Chinese health officials report pneumonia outbreak in Wuhan, eventually identifying a novel coronavirus.

Jan. 21, 2020

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirms first U.S. COVID-19 case in Washington.

Jan. 29, 2020

20210304_News_TL_March_teamADA forms team comprised of scientific and public health experts and ADA staff to lead Association’s COVID-19 response.

Feb. 29, 2020

First known U.S. death from COVID-19 is reported in Seattle area.

March 2020

March 11:
World Health Organization declares COVID-19 a pandemic.
March 16:
ADA turns to virtual meetings. The last in-person meeting in Chicago was the Council on Communications on March 13.
March 16:
ADA recommends dentists postpone all but urgent/emergency procedures.
March 18:
ADA develops definition on urgent and emergency care.
March 19:
ADA releases guide to help dental offices address coding, billing procedures during COVID-19 outbreak.
March 23:
ADA Health Policy Institute launches ongoing COVID-19 economic impact tracking poll. First survey of 19,000 dentists found 76% had closed their offices to all but emergency patients during COVID-19 pandemic.

A First Look at Economic Impact of COVID-19 in Dental Practices
March 26:
FDI World Dental Congress cancels September event in Shanghai, China.
March 27:
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, or CARES Act, becomes law. 20210306_News_TL_govThe $2 trillion stimulus package included provisions important to dentists, including Small Business Administration loans, retirement account withdrawals and student loan payments and interest deferral.

April 2020

April 1:
ADA issues recommendation that “dentists keep their offices closed to all but urgent and emergency procedures until April 30 at the earliest.”
April 1:
ADA releases interim guidance to minimize COVID-19 transmission risk when treating dental emergencies.

April 3:
ADA Board of Trustees holds historic all-digital meeting.
April 27:
New Advisory Task Force on Dental Practice Recovery develops Return to Work Interim Guidance Toolkit to help dentists return to more normal practice operations while protecting staff, patients and themselves from COVID-19.
April 28:
1 million people test positive for SARS-CoV-2 in the U.S.

May 2020

May 19:
CDC issues updated interim infection prevention and control guidance for dental settings during COVID-19 response.

20210306_News_TL_ppeMay 26:
Advisory Task Force on Dental Practice Recovery releases hazard assessment guide and checklist for dental settings.

June 2020

June 3:
ADA creates resource to help dentists manage health of their team members if they are exposed to patient who later tests positive for COVID-19 or has household member test positive.
June 5:
ADA receives a first installment of 350,000 3M-made KN95 masks from national stockpile that it starts to distribute to dentists working in states where PPE is in low supply.

June 10:
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Provider Relief Fund Payment Portal opens and begins accepting applications.
June 16:
ADA and Florida Dental Association decide not to move forward with in-person ADA FDC annual meeting in Orlando.

July 2020

July 7:
20210306_News_TL_guideAdvisory Task Force on Dental Practice Recovery launches Patient Return Resource Center for dentists and their teams to use when communicating with patients about what to expect when returning for in-person dental care.
July 10:
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services opens Provider Relief Fund to dentists who were ineligible in Phase 1.
July 27:
Board of Trustees adopts ad interim policy stating dentistry is essential health care to help guide advocacy for dental profession during COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.

August 2020

Aug. 12:
20210306_News_TL_March_whoADA states it "respectfully yet strongly disagrees" with WHO's Aug. 11 interim guidance recommending that "routine" dental care be delayed in certain situations because of COVID-19.

September 2020

Sept. 28:
Global COVID-19 deaths exceed
1 million.

October 2020

Oct. 2:
National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine says dentists are essential health care providers; vaccine allocation framework reflects this designation and identifies dentists as part of priority level one vaccine recipients.
Oct. 5:
HHS Provider Relief Fund opens for Phase 3 funding applications.
Oct. 15:
20210306_News_TL_March_1percentJADA study finds COVID-19 rate among U.S. dentists in June was less than 1%.
Oct. 15-19:
ADA hosts all-virtual annual meeting and House of Delegates.
Oct. 19:
House passes resolutions related to COVID-19 stating dentistry is essential health care and supporting vaccine administration and point-of-care testing by dentists and the expansion of practice scope during public health emergencies.

November 2020

Nov. 20:
ADA urges CDC to prioritize vaccination of dentists and allow dentists to help vaccinate the public.
Nov. 30:
Amid autumn surge, U.S. reports over 4 million cases in November, averaging more than 100,000 new cases a day.

December 2020

Dec. 11:
FDA issues emergency use authorization for Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine.
Dec. 14:
20210304_News_TL_March_mapvaxADA officers approve vaccine strategy with three pillars — dentists getting the vaccine, dentists giving the vaccine, and dentists/ADA encouraging patients and public to be vaccinated. An area dedicated to vaccination is created on, which includes a map depicting the phase of each state’s vaccination plan in which dentists will receive the COVID-19 vaccination where determined and dentists’ ability to administer the COVID-19 vaccination by state.
Dec. 15:
ADA unveils COVID-19 vaccine fact sheet.
Dec. 18:
FDA issues emergency use authorization for Moderna COVID-19 vaccine.
Dec. 18:
20210306_News_TL_March_KlemmodsonADA President Daniel J. Klemmedson, D.D.S., M.D., receives COVID-19 vaccination at Tucson, Arizona, hospital where he regularly performs oral surgery. Dr. Klemmedson encourages fellow dentists to be vaccinated when they are eligible. “Within the past week, health care professionals around the country have rolled up their sleeves to receive the highly anticipated COVID-19 vaccine,” Dr. Klemmedson said. “I was fortunate to be one of them.”
Dec. 28:
White House signs $900 billion coronavirus relief package.
Dec. 28:
CDC confirms recommendation that dentists, dental teams and dental students be in Phase 1a of state COVID-19 vaccination plans.

January 2021

Jan. 18:
HPI survey finds consumer confidence in returning to the dental office hits new high with 88% reporting that they have already been back or are ready to go.

February 2021

20210306_News_TL_March_GKASFeb. 5:
Give Kids A Smile hosts virtual national kickoff event. Nearly 1,000 programs have signed up to provide oral health services to nearly 300,000 children in 2021. Many have modified to include enhanced safety and infections control protocols in place.
Feb. 22:
COVID-19 death toll in U.S. surpasses
Feb. 24:
Research from ADA and American Dental Hygienists’ Association finds 3.1% of U.S. dental hygienists had contracted COVID-19 as of October 2020.
Feb. 26:
FDA issues emergency use authorization for Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose COVID-19 vaccine.

March 2021

March 3:
ADA releases Patient Return: Talking with Your Patients About COVID-19 Vaccines toolkit in an effort to improve vaccine confidence.
March 3:
U.S. surpasses 80 million vaccine doses administered.
March 4:
Vaccine doses administered worldwide exceed 275 million.
March 11:
White House signs $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill aimed at helping the people and businesses nationwide devastated by the pandemic.
March 11:
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services amends an emergency declaration under the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act to authorize additional providers, including dentists and dental students, to vaccinate patients for COVID-19 nationwide.

Current U.S. data on COVID-19

Reported Cases
Reported Deaths
Reported Vaccinations

US Data from the CDC, WHO, as of March 26

ADA News Special Digital Feature, March 2021

Visit the ADA Coronavirus (COVID-19) Center for Dentists