19 Mar COVID-19 FAQs: Non-essential surgeries and elective procedures (Executive Order D 2020 009 and 027)
Updated April 6: Governor Polis issued an extension of his executive order temporarily suspending elective and non-essential surgeries and procedures. Elective and non-essential surgeries and procedures are now suspended until April 26. Read the April 6 order here.
Governor Polis signed executive order D 2020 009 on March 19 temporarily suspending elective and non-essential surgeries and procedures to preserve important medical equipment, like personal protective equipment, ventilators, and respirators needed to combat COVID-19. This includes all voluntary or elective surgeries or procedures, whether medical, dental, or veterinary. A voluntary or elective surgery or procedure means the surgery can be delayed without risk to the current or future health of the patient. Additionally, veterinary practices will also be asked to complete an inventory of supplies including ventilators, PPE, and masks. Read the full executive order.
What is the intent of this order? The intent of this order is to conserve vital personal protective equipment (PPE), ventilators and respirators to help manage and prevent the spread of COVID-19.
How long is this order in effect? The executive order is in effect from March 23 to April 26.
- What type of surgeries and procedures are permitted under this order? Veterinarians are encouraged to use their discretion, with the understanding of the intent of this order, when making a determination whether a surgery or procedure is allowed.
- There is a threat to the patient’s life if the surgery or procedure is not performed;
- There is a threat of permanent dysfunction of an extremity or organ system if the surgery or procedure is not performed;
- There is a risk of metastasis or progression of staging of a disease or condition if the surgery or procedure is not performed; or
- There is a risk that the patient’s condition will rapidly deteriorate if the surgery or procedure is not performed and there is a threat to life, or to an extremity or organ system, or of permanent dysfunction or disability.
- Are spay, neuters, or dental cleaning still permitted under this executive order? The order suspends all voluntary or elective surgeries or procedures that can be delayed for a minimum of three months without undue risk to the current or future health of the patient as determined by the guidelines of the veterinary practice. Veterinarians are encouraged to use their discretion, with the guidelines above, when determining if a spay, neuter, or dental cleaning is essential.
- Are surgeries and procedures designed to relieve pain and suffering still permitted? Veterinarians are encouraged to use their discretion, with the understanding of the intent of this order, when making a determination whether a surgery or procedure is allowed.
- Are vaccinations still permitted under this executive order? Yes. It is crucial that public health continue to be protected — vaccinations are permitted with appropriate social distancing.
- What about heartworm testing? The American Heartworm Society has released recommendations for heartworm testing, prevention, and treatment during COVID-19 based on a variety of scenarios. Click here to read the recommendations.
- What kind of PPE should be conserved? CDPHE has requested the following be conserved:
- Eye protection and goggles
- Face shields
- Surgical masks – with shields
- Surgical masks – without shields
- N95 masks
- Non-sterile gloves
- Sterile gloves
- Disposable gowns
- Biohazard bags
- Are services such as rehab still permitted? Yes they are still permitted at this time with appropriate social distancing measures. This specific order only applies to surgeries and procedures that require use of PPE.
- Are rural veterinary hospitals excluded from this order? Yes. Rural veterinary hospitals are strongly advised to comply with this order, but are not required to comply.
- Are non-profits and shelters included in this order? Yes, shelters, rescues, and other similar facilities that provide veterinary services (to the public or the organization) are included in this executive order.
- What else is included in this executive order? This executive order also directs all veterinary professionals to complete an inventory of PPE, ventilators and anesthesia machines by March 27. Veterinary practices are asked to complete an online form if they have 25+ boxes of PPE or ventilators or anesthesia machines as a part of a statewide effort to inventory available medical supplies. Practices with less than 25 boxes of PPE are asked to keep only the bare minimum they need to conduct essential or life saving functions and to donate the rest to local hospitals and public health departments. Read more here.
- Other resources