March 17, 2020
Is treatment by PTs and PTAs allowed in light of recent government announcements about social distancing and gatherings of 10 or more people?
The short answer is yes, but…
On March 16, Governor Inslee’s office issued guidance that physical therapy is allowed, guidance that contained requirements for gatherings of fewer than 50 people. King County health officials posted a related message. And the CDC issued guidance for gatherings of more than 10 people in a high risk population. While the definition of an event or gathering does not appear to include a clinical episode of care, clinicians and their coworkers may find the guidance to minimize risk helpful. Some or many of you have already taken similar precautions and then some.
For clinicians looking for a definitive answer about whether they should continue with patient care, there is not one at this time but we will continue to monitor government guidance. We have reached out to the King County Health Department for their specific opinion about care provided by physical therapists and will let you know what we find out.
In the meantime, on March 17, APTA has provided some profession-related guidance that you might find helpful.
Some of you have chosen to close or dramatically reduce clinic operations during this time. PTWA supports your use of your clinical judgement to make these decisions. Others of you have chosen to continue care with increased measures in place to reduce exposure to COVID-19. PTWA supports your use of your clinical judgement in these situations too.
And an answer from the CDC website that we thought you might find somewhat relevant (although the primary market for this message is not PT providers):
Q: Should any diagnostic or therapeutic interventions be withheld due to concerns about transmission of COVID-19?
A: Patients should receive any interventions they would normally receive as standard of care. Patients with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 should be asked to wear a surgical mask as soon as they are identified and be evaluated in a private room with the door closed. Healthcare personnel entering the room should use Standard and Transmission-based Precautions.