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How do you know when people are comfortable resuming their normal activities in this COVID-19 world? You look at dentists.

According to a New York Times article on June 10th, “The dental industry has weathered an exaggerated version of the pandemic’s economic impact, experiencing both a steeper decline and a faster recovery than other sectors. Half of all dental workers lost their jobs in March and April as states closed businesses to slow the virus’s spread. The industry accounted for a staggering 35 percent of all healthcare jobs lost in those months, even though its workers make up just 6 percent of the industry, according to analysis of federal data by the nonprofit Altarum Institute.”

The article also points out that there was nothing wrong with dentistry’s business model; it was simply the impact of the pandemic and the shutdowns that caused the furloughs and layoffs.

In fact, as of June 1st, 77% of dental practices have brought all their staff back. 18% have brought some back. Only 5% of practices aren’t paying any of their staff. And, “The dental industry gained a quarter-million jobs in May, accounting for a full 10 percent of the net jobs added across the American economy.”

So, what does this mean for you? It depends on the state you live and practice in.

It’s A Rollercoaster, But It Ain’t Fun

As of this writing, 19 states are experiencing sharp upswings in newly diagnosed COVID-19 cases. In some states, that’s in part due to an increase in testing. However, many states are showing much higher COVID-related hospitalizations; Arizona, for instance, has implemented its hospital disaster plan as its ICU utilization is at 80%

Alabama experienced its highest one-day total of new cases on June 11 – 848. According to al.com/news, “The Alabama Department of Public Health confirmed nearly 850 new coronavirus cases in Alabama on Thursday, the highest single-day total to date. The new cases bring Alabama’s cumulative case total to nearly 22,500, with 13,500 presumed recoveries and 750 people dead.

“Alabama also reached a new peak in the rolling 7-day average for new cases on Thursday. That number crossed 500 for the first time since the outbreak began, climbing to 530 new cases per day.”

Those cases are illustrative, but not definitive, for the nation as a whole. Most states are staying flat or trending downward in their infection/admission numbers. But these upticks – almost universally attributed to the lack of social distancing and mask-wearing over the Memorial Day weekend – show that no state is immune to the possibility of moderate and even severe spikes.

Will They Or Won’t They?

The scuttlebutt right now is that governors will do everything possible to avoid shutting down state economies. That might buy you more time than you would otherwise have.

What will you do with that time?

If you had to borrow to survive the first shutdown, you’re not going to be ready to weather another one. Don’t count on Congress to have any appetite for another round of loans. That’s not to say that funds won’t be available, but the safe course is to assume that your practice’s survival is up to you.

If you need additional resources to help weather the next shutdown, visit our Resources page. But if you’re minded to be more proactive and to take definitive steps to safeguard what you’ve worked so hard to build, schedule a Practice Growth Call

The smart money in this COVID-19 world follows the old adage: “Hope for the best, but plan for the worst.” Take steps now; dentistry is uniquely vulnerable right now, and so is your practice.


Written by Smartbox

SmartBox employs the best minds in dentistry to help you grow your practice. Our Practice Growth System™ is proven to help dentists in every market area across the country achieve predictable year-over-year growth.