Tuesday, April 21, 2020 at 4:30 PM

In his previous executive order, Governor Kemp defined optometry as critical infrastructure; yesterday, he named optometry in the list of healthcare practices that can treat patients in accordance with CDC and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services guidelines.

"That all medical practices, dental practices, orthodontics practices, optometry practices , physical therapists, ambulatory surgical centers, physicians performing elective surgeries, healthcare institutions, medical facilities, and any and all other healthcare-related practices and services that have elected to cease operations because of the spread of COVID-19 should begin treating patients as soon as practicable in accordance with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services guidelines, and the provisions of this Order to prevent the spread of COVID-19 . All such healthcare-related practices and services shall not be subject to Minimum Basic Operations restrictions but should consider implementing the operational guidelines provided in the Executive Order for Critical Infrastructure."

This new order does not mean that practices should return to business as usual just yet. While being mindful that the CDC is a federal agency under Department of Health and Human Services, the CDC still recommends postponing routine eye care visits. The GOA executive board and the lobby team are working closely with our state officials and   will continue to alert our members when new recommendations from either the CDC or the office of Governor Kemp are made public.

The 16 operational guidelines Executive Order provides for businesses defined as critical infrastructure follow are as follows:

  1. Screening and evaluating workers who exhibit signs of illness, such as fever over 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit, cough, or shortness of breath;
  2. Requiring workers who exhibit signs of illness not report to work or seek medical attention;
  3. Enhancing sanitation of the workplace as appropriate;
  4. Requiring hand washing or sanitation by workers at appropriate places within the business location;
  5. Providing personal protective equipment as available and appropriate to the function and location of the worker within the business location;
  6. Prohibiting gatherings of workers during working hours;
  7. Permitting workers to take breaks and lunch outside, in their office or personal workspace, or in such other areas where proper social distancing is attainable;
  8. Implementing teleworking for all possible workers;
  9. Implementing staggered shifts for all possible workers;
  10. Holding all meetings and conferences virtually, whenever possible;
  11. Delivering intangible services wherever possible; 
  12. Discouraging workers from using other worker’s phones, desks, offices, or other work tools and equipment;
  13. Providing disinfectant and sanitation products for workers to clean their workplace; and 
  14. Prohibiting handshaking and other unnecessary person-to-person contact in the workplace; and 
  15. Placing notices that encourage hand hygiene at the entrance to the workplace and in other workplace areas where they are likely to be seen; and 
  16. Suspending the use of Personal Identification Number (“PIN”) pads, PIN entry devices, electronic signature capture, and any other credit care receipt signature requirements to the extent such suspension is permitted by agreements with credit card companies and credit agencies. 

The office of the governor has put in place a reporting system where citizens can report those who violate the executive order. It is important that organized optometry in Georgia continues to follow sanitation and social distancing guidelines to protect our patients, our staff and our practices. 

Providing you with the education, information and resources you need to serve your patients remains our number one priority. The GOA is committed to providing you with vital information during this time of uncertainty.

Thank you for all that you are doing for your patients, for your community, and for our profession during this public health emergency. If you have any questions or concerns, please let do not hesitate to contact me directly.


Mehrdad E. Saadat
GOA President

*This memo was compiled with assistance from GOA General Counsel, Aubrey Villines.