TITLE 22. EXAMINING BOARDS

PART 14. TEXAS OPTOMETRY BOARD

CHAPTER 279. INTERPRETATIONS

22 TAC §279.15

The Texas Optometry Board adopts on an emergency basis an amendment to 22 TAC §279.15, in response to the COVID-19 disaster declaration. The amendment is being made pursuant to Executive Order GA 19, and sets the minimum standards for safe practice during the COVID-19 disaster. This rule is adopted on an emergency basis due to the imminent peril to the public health, safety and welfare caused by failure to comply with minimum standards for safe practice during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The amendments are applicable only for purposes of the COVID-19 disaster declaration and shall only remain effective until the COVID-19 disaster declaration is terminated.

The emergency rule amendment is adopted under Texas Optometry Act, Texas Occupations Code, §351.151, which authorizes the adoption of procedural and substantive rules for the regulation of the optometric profession, §351.360 which sets the professional standard of care, and §351.501 which authorizes the Board to take disciplinary action. The emergency rule amendment is adopted on an emergency basis pursuant to Texas Government Code §2001.034, which authorizes the adoption of a rule on an emergency basis without prior notice and comment based upon a determination of imminent peril to the public health, safety or welfare.

No other sections are affected by the amendments.

§279.15.Board Interpretation Number Fifteen.

(a) The Texas Optometry Act, §5.08(a), requires that no licensed optometrist or therapeutic optometrist practice optometry or therapeutic optometry while knowingly suffering from a contagious or infectious disease, if the disease is one that could reasonably be transmitted in the normal performance of optometry or therapeutic optometry. For purposes of interpretation, a "contagious or infectious disease" is defined as a "disease capable of being transmitted from one person to another by contact or close proximity." Infectious agents transmitted from one person to another by contact or close proximity would include bacteria and viruses. A licensee shall be deemed practicing while knowingly suffering from an infectious or contagious disease when a medical diagnosis of that disease has been made. The following include but are not limited to infectious diseases or diseases that can be transmitted:

(1) Infectious agents which may be transmitted by direct contact or by respiratory route include: chickenpox, common cold, infectious mononucleosis, influenza, mycoplasma pneumonia, measles, meningococcal disease, mumps, pertussis, rubella and tuberculosis.

(2) Diseases that could be transmitted by direct contact include: chlamydia trachomatous infections, herpes simplex viruses, staphylococcal infections, streptococcal infections, and bacterial and viral conjunctivitis.

(b) Practice during the period covered by the Governor's COVID-19 Disaster Declaration. The minimum standards for safe practice for optometrists during the COVID-19 disaster shall be compliance with the appropriate Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Guidelines and The Governor's Report to Open Texas.

The agency certifies that legal counsel has reviewed the emergency adoption and found it to be within the state agency's legal authority to adopt.

Filed with the Office of the Secretary of State on May 1, 2020.

TRD-202001760

Chris Kloeris

Executive Director

Texas Optometry Board

Effective date: May 1, 2020

Expiration date: August 28, 2020

For further information, please call: (512) 305-8502