COVID-19 update emailed to AVMA members

World map highlights countries with positive COVID-19 results.
Published on March 15, 2020

Editor's Note: The following email was sent to AVMA members Sunday night with new and updated information about COVID-19.

Please visit avma.org/Coronavirus for the most up-to-date information.

Dear colleagues,

We understand this is an incredibly challenging time for all. We want you, our members, to know that the AVMA is working day and night to advocate for you; to provide useful guidance to help you, your clients, and your practice through this crisis; and to disseminate credible information for all concerned. We are working with federal agencies, including the CDC and FDA; gathering expertise from veterinarians and others working in public health and disaster response; collaborating with state veterinary medical and species-specific organizations, the AAVMC,  veterinary schools, and the AAVSB; and other colleagues across the healthcare system to develop the best possible guidance and keep you as updated as possible. Information is being updated constantly on our dedicated COVID-19 webpage.

An important question that has been asked is whether veterinary medicine is considered an “essential business”. AVMA is advocating for all veterinary hospitals and ambulatory practices to be considered essential businesses in any situations in which non-essential businesses are asked to close for COVID-19 risk mitigation. Veterinarians and our teams provide important animal and public health surveillance, deliver essential medical care for ill animals, and ensure that only healthy animals enter the food supply. 

Veterinary practices can and should defer elective procedures to preserve medical supplies when circumstances call for that. However, veterinarians must also be able to continue to provide medically necessary care for our animal patients, especially during this time when Americans are spending increased time at home with their pets and ensuring the integrity of our food supply is critical. In doing so, and as needed, veterinarians can adapt our approach to ensure an appropriate level of biosecurity that safeguards the health of our animal patients and their owners.

Healthcare professionals are being asked to conserve personal protective equipment (PPE). All healthcare professionals need to adopt strategies that will allow them to conserve PPE as much as possible, including veterinarians.

The FDA has provided guidance, veterinarian Scott Weese has provided helpful information on his blog, and we are working with other healthcare associations, such as the American Dental Association (ADA), to share best practices. Among issues being discussed are whether/how normally disposable masks might appropriately be reused, substituting reusable cloth masks, whether certain surgical procedures might be able to be performed without masks with minimal risk to our patients and staff, whether adopting modifications to usual protocols allows preservation of an acceptable standard of care, and need for client consent.

HR 6201 - Families First Coronavirus Response Act. The U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 6201 very early Saturday, March 14. The bill will be taken up by the Senate very quickly and is expected to pass the Senate this upcoming week. It is possible the Senate will make changes. President Trump has indicated he will sign the bill as soon as it is delivered to his desk.

The bill includes: 

  • Up to 12 weeks of family and medical leave benefits related to COVID-19 paid at 2/3 of regular pay rates after the first 14 days, which are unpaid
  • Up to 80 hours of additional paid sick leave for employees affected by COVID-19
  • Tax credits for employers to mitigate the impacts of the expanded leave provisions
  • Free testing for SARS-CoV-2 during the emergency

 More information about these programs can be found on our webpage dedicated to COVID-19.

We’ve gathered insights and guidance to help you continue to provide care during this difficult time. Animals that are sick or injured should receive veterinary attention. However, you might consider rescheduling or limiting services such as wellness exams, dental services, and elective procedures. If you're in an area with active COVID-19 cases, consider limiting in-person exams to acutely ill animals and/or emergencies. 

Telemedicine can be an important tool to protect and monitor patients while preventing spread of COVID-19. With an already established veterinarian-client-patient relationship, telemedicine allows us to appropriately triage patients to ensure that only those really needing to be seen make the trip to the clinic with their owners. AVMA has resources to support your use of telemedicine at avma.org/Telemedicine.

Resources that may help you continue to deliver care during COVID-19:

The coronavirus response business toolkit
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s toolkit includes guidelines on how small business owners can ensure they are keeping their customers and employees safe. You’ll also find a business preparedness checklist to help you figure out what to prioritize and to create a plan of communication for your employees.

Disaster assistance loans from the SBA
The Small Business Administration (SBA) announced it would offer disaster assistance loans for up to $2 million for small businesses affected by the coronavirus. These low-interest loans are available to businesses that have sustained “substantial economic injury” due to the spread of the coronavirus. The money can be used to pay outstanding debts, payroll, and any other bills. While small businesses that have access to credit are not eligible, those with no available credit qualify for an interest rate of 3.75%, and nonprofits will have an interest rate of 2.75%.

Disaster Help Desk for small businesses
The U.S. Chamber Foundation has a disaster help desk that acts as an information concierge to assist small businesses with disaster readiness, relief, and long-term recovery. They also have a business resiliency toolbox with resources to help companies address preparedness issues while building in flexibility to handle potential business interruptions.

The AVMA is here for you. We continue to work on multiple mission-critical topics and engage with organizations across the healthcare spectrum, as well as federal and state authorities and public health officials. This situation is quickly evolving, and your association is working diligently and adapting minute-by-minute. Our commitment is to provide substantive information and guidance to you, our members, and the veterinary community as soon as it is available. 

More information on all of these topics is available on our COVID-19 webpage, which includes FAQs to support you, your team members, and your clients. We are all in this together, and we salute the amazing profession-wide commitment and outpouring of effort in this very difficult time.

Sincerely,

John Howe, DVM
President, American Veterinary Medical Association

Rena Carlson-Lammers, DVM
Chair, Board of Directors, American Veterinary Medical Association

Janet D. Donlin, DVM, CAE
Chief Executive Officer, American Veterinary Medical Association
 

Comments

Essential businss?

Heck yes!!

Kittens

Can kittens and or cats catch the virus from humans?

AVMA Editor
March 16, 2020

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

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RE: Kittens

We do not have a clear answer as to whether SARS-CoV-2 can infect pets at this time. That said, currently, there is no evidence that pets become sick. Infectious disease experts, as well as the CDC, OIE, and WHO indicate there is also no evidence to suggest that pet dogs or cats can be a source of infection with SARS-CoV-2, including spreading COVID-19 to
people. More investigation is underway and, as we learn more, we will update you.

However, because animals can spread other diseases to people and people can also spread diseases to animals, it’s a good idea to always wash your hands before and after interacting with animals.

Vets

We still need meat. Vets take care of more than small animals. Cow, chicken, etc. You don't want bad meat? Yes vets are essential. Regardless I know I don't want anything to happen to my service dog. I need her.

Covid19

I am fostering a dog and sometimes the dog goes to visit his previous owner. I am worried if the previous owner gets the virus and touches the dog that when the dog comes back to me, my family will pet the dog and we will get the virus. Can you provide insight?

AVMA Editor
March 31, 2020

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Permalink

RE: Covid19

We’re not overly concerned about people contracting COVID-19 through contact with dogs and cats. Our main concern regarding the spread of SARS-COV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, is direct human-to-human contact, especially exposure to an infected person’s bodily secretions, such as droplets from a cough or sneeze. While viruses can be transmitted through contact with a contaminated surface or object, this appears to be a secondary route of transmission. With this type of environmental contamination, the virus survives best on smooth surfaces, such as countertops and door knobs. Porous materials, such as pet fur, tend to absorb and trap pathogens, making it harder to contract them through touch.

Of course, because animals can spread other diseases to people and people can also spread diseases to animals, it’s important to wash your hands before and after interacting with animals; ensure your pet is kept well-groomed; and regularly clean your pet’s food and water bowls, bedding material, and toys.

Angela
March 16, 2020

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Permalink

Kittens and Covid19

No, they cannot

Paula M Taylor
March 17, 2020

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Permalink

Kittens

Animals can catch this virius from people ugh to many people are over reacting on this virus its nothing new just different name now protect ur family(animals) to many are thinking all wrong and poor dogs and cats are getting dumped and released to the streets come on people get real

Wildlife shelters staffed volunteers

What about wildlife shelters and domestic animal shelters who rely on volunteers? If curfews are imposed (as has just happened in San Francisco) will volunteers be permitted to travel to the shelters?

Safety

In large practices why aren’t workers being protected? Exposed to so many people for nail trims and vaccines? Ludicrous.

Spay/Neuter

Would spay/neuter be considered an elective procedure that should be rescheduled?

RE: Spay/Neuter

Thank you for reaching out. We leave these decisions to the professional judgment of local veterinarians and it will depend on the needs of the animal, the client, and includes consideration of what is happening in that particular area in terms of COVID-19 and associated needs and restrictions.

Elective Services

What about vets who provides grooming and boarding services. Will these be considered elective?

Movement on Federal Guidlines

Any movement on this higher than the state levels making a decision on essential business?

Clarification

a dental COHAT on a stable dog with chronic dental disease is scheduled for this week. Is this considered elective?

Elective Procedures

Will there be any mandates regarding elective procedures?

Our office is completely elective. Yet, all 60+ employees are being put at risk because our office won't shut down until forced. These supplies should be going to human medicine right now...

Groomers?

I was assuming my grooming salon will be shut down, but if we are shut down for more than 3-4 weeks there will be a LOT of miserable matted Labradoodles in town...

Would reference or…

Would reference or diagnostic laboratories be considered essential?

Non- rabies vaccines

To what extent are vaccines considered essential? Should we be postponing DHPP / FVRCP series or boosters? Yes considered Core, but are they a medical necessity for pets in this situation?

I work at a veterinary…

I work at a veterinary hospital as a assistant. We are telling our clients to finish their series for puppies OR first time series of core vaccines for cats. If it’s just your pets annual visit wait 3-4 weeks before scheduling. We are doing over the phone transactions for food and medicine as well as sick appointments— clients stay in the car while we transfer their pet, or if they wish to come in, it’s a limit of one person in exam room. Veterinary medicine is essential bottom line. My only scare is I work at a very busy hospital and we have many workers in close proximity all day.

so are non ER vet hospitals considered essential right now?

We are a non emergency vet hospital and someone in the hospital is stating we are non essential and will have to close If the county decides to make that choice. Are we non essential right now or would we be considered essential??

RE: so are non ER vet hospitals considered essential right now?

The AVMA is actively tracking this, and are not aware of any state or locality that has not designated veterinary practice as essential services. We are aware of a few instances where the state VMA has intervened and we have been supportive.

Elective Procedures

I work at a Veterinary Hospital and I know that we are supposed to put off elective procedures. But what procedures fall under that category? Like I know spays and neuters can wait, but what about TPLOs, amputations, dental procedures. Is there some kind of guideline that you have that we could fallow. It would be very helpful to know which patients I need to prioritize.

RE: Elective Procedures

The AVMA is strongly encouraging veterinary practices consult with state and local health officials so that timely and accurate information can guide appropriate responses in each location where their operations reside. Since the intensity of an outbreak may differ according to geographic location, local health officials will be issuing guidance specific to their communities.

Other factors include the needs of the animal, the client, and consideration of what is happening in that particular area in terms of COVID-19 and associated needs and restrictions.

CE

What methods are being put in place for veterinarians to continue building their CEU requirements? Assuming in person conferences will be put on hold, Will veterinarians be allowed to obtain all of their CE from online sources and journal studies?

AVMA Editor
March 31, 2020

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Permalink

RE: CE

Hello, we will soon be adding guidance about this to our website and will let you know when it is published. Since what is acceptable in a particular state for meeting CE requirements is up to the state board of veterinary medicine, your primary resource for guidance should be your state board.

Angela Stringfield
April 02, 2020 Permalink

Vaccines

My dogs rabies, lepto and kennel cough is due. Will she be able to receive these?

AVMA Editor
April 02, 2020

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Permalink

RE: Vaccines

We encourage you to reach out to your local veterinarian as they would be able to best answer your question.

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