In mid-March, Gov. Gavin Newsom’s administration appeared to throw a lifeline to thousands of dentists who were terrified they would have to close their offices, leaving cavities unfilled, cleanings unscheduled and dental diseases undetected.
As one of the most dangerous professions for catching airborne infections, the dentists were anxious to build a stockpile of personal protection equipment just like California’s hospitals were doing. State officials promised to deliver masks that would have helped dentists provide at least some level of basic services to patients.
“Per our phone conversation, the dental association will get 1 million N95s,” a California Department of Public Health official, Trang Nguyen, emailed to the California Dental Association, on March 13. “Please give me a confirmation later on your trucking arrangement.”
Richard Stapler, an association vice president, replied that four big rigs would arrive to pick up the masks from the state’s warehouse the following week. Stapler,