by Nathan Ratchford, MD, Phelps Health
Are we still at risk for COVID-19 during summer?
Nathan Ratchford, MD, chief medical officer of Phelps Health Hospital and a gynecologist with Phelps Health Medical Group, says that we are still at risk for contracting the COVID-19 virus during summer months and should continue to be diligent in following safety measures, such as wearing a mask, practicing hand hygiene and maintaining social distancing guidelines.
Do viruses die during summer?
“Some viruses decrease during warmer temperatures, such as the flu,” he said. “The COVID-19 virus is too new, and we don’t know how it’s going to behave. It’s important to remember when participating in activities to keep safety and caution in mind.”
Is my risk of exposure to COVID-19 higher in confined spaces?
Enclosed spaces pose a higher risk of transmission to COVID-19. The more enclosed a space is, the less air circulation is available. “In an enclosed space, there is more availability for the air around you to be contaminated,” Dr. Ratchford said.
Should my friends or family wear a mask when we spend time together?
If you are having friends or family over for an outdoor event, it’s important to make sure they’re not sick or exposing you to an illness. “Having events is a great opportunity to be open and honest with your loved ones,” he said. “You can let your friends or family know that you want to spend time with them, but if they are sick, you should let them know that you would rather them not come.”
How can I safely dine out at restaurants?
Restaurants are tricky because not only are you in an enclosed space with families other than your own, but you’re also eating and socializing, so you won’t have a mask on during this time. “If you are going to go to a restaurant, try to preferentially eat outdoors or limit your time in a restaurant so you aren’t spending hours talking with your friends or family in a high-risk area,” Dr. Ratchford advised.
“I’ve noticed that all of our local businesses have really tried hard to do what is best for their patrons and have continued following recommended safety guidelines,” he said. “I understand that these new precautions seem foreign and can be anxiety-provoking, but as a community, we’ve done the best we can with the situation we’ve been given.”
Can I safely go swimming this summer?
COVID-19 is transmitted mainly by respiratory droplets, so the ability for it to spread through the water is low. Dr. Ratchford also said pools typically have additives and chemicals to cut down on the transmission of diseases and viruses like COVID-19.
Is traveling high risk?
“It’s not the distance you are traveling; it’s where you are going and what you are going to be doing,” he said. If you are traveling to places with high prevalence of the COVID-19 virus, your risk of exposure increases. Also, if the event is indoors with lots of people, your risk of being exposed goes up.
Do I need to wear a mask to go grocery shopping?
“There are different recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) for when you should wear a mask,” said Dr. Ratchford. “For myself, I feel like if I’m going out in public places like the grocery store, the right thing for me to do is to wear a mask.”
How can I be safe this summer regardless of COVID-19?
In the summertime, it’s important to remember the following:
- Stay hydrated and drink water before you feel thirsty.
- Use sunscreen with an SPF (sun protection factor) of greater than 30.
- Prevent bug bites by wearing spray repellants with DEET.
- Consume alcohol in moderation.
- Prevent tick borne illnesses by removing the tick, including its head, quickly.
Talk to your provider about keeping healthy and safe this summer. If you haven’t established care with a primary care provider at Phelps Health yet, discover how a provider can positively impact your healthcare journey: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2RxHsg4Fr8U&t=1221s
Nathan Ratchford, MD, joined Phelps Health in 2018. He has practiced obstetrics and gynecology in Rolla since 2008. In addition to his clinical practice, he also is the senior vice president/chief medical officer of Phelps Health. Dr. Ratchford is originally from Lamar, Missouri. He and his wife live in Rolla, where they raise their two children. He currently sees patients in Suite 510 of the Phelps Health Medical Office Building.
Dr. Ratchford also offers Telehealth visits, which allow patients to visit him remotely using their smartphone with audio and video capabilities.