Include continued COVID precautions in your summer plans

Published 9:43 am Wednesday, June 17, 2020

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By Michelle Fortune

Healthcare Umbrella

As we welcome another summer and all the excitement that accompanies long, warm sunny days, you may be like me – excited to finally start planning more outdoor activities and enjoying getting out of the house. While this is usually our approach to this time of year, it is very important that we do not lose sight of our continuing fight against Covid-19 and the added precautions we need to employ to ensure a safe and healthy season.

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Restrictions are being relaxed, and many are pulling out their travel bags, flip flops and a sense of freedom, but we must exercise caution to avoid a surge of new cases. Many infectious disease experts are not predicting that warmer temperatures will have a dramatic impact on eliminating this pandemic. The Canadian Medical Association Journal published a study last month that showed temperatures don’t affect transmission as much as hoped.

So, if the sun is not a cure for Covid-19, how do we enjoy the summer season and stay safe at the same time? First, we must realize that just because businesses, beaches, trails and parks are reopening, this does not mean the pandemic has ended. Quite the opposite.

Secondly, as the pandemic continues, and as we interact more with one another, we should not become complacent about safety. Instead, we need to raise awareness of the importance of continued physical distancing and become even more vigilant by continuing to wear a mask, washing hands frequently and thoroughly, not touching your eyes, nose or mouth without washing your hands first, and staying home when sick to avoid exposing others. Additionally, if you are planning a hotel stay, ask in advance about cleaning and disinfection processes.

Lastly, we can self-monitor daily. Taking your temperature twice daily, in the morning and evening, will allow you to note any fluctuations and perhaps may provide early notice of a trend upward. If you have a fever, please stay home and quarantine to avoid potential spread of the virus. Talk to your healthcare provider about any concerns you have to ensure that you are mitigating risk in any way possible.

What is St Luke’s Hospital doing to prepare for the days ahead to ensure we are ready should there be a surge of new cases? We are carefully maintaining our supplies and personal protective equipment (PPE). We now serve as the regional distribution hub for North Carolina Healthcare Association (NCHA) for certain PPE and supplies and are happy to assist other healthcare entities in our state on behalf of NCHA. We also continue to work with our local health agency by continuing to test where appropriate. Keeping open communication lines with hospitals across our region and state allows us to monitor equipment, staffing, hospital beds and vital resources to confirm continued preparedness. We are staying up to date on new research, Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines, and with state and national hospital associations to verify we continue to employ best practices for evaluation, diagnosis and medical management.

As you return to activities outside your home or you travel to the beach or park with family this summer, we know it will be different and maybe even difficult, but if we all employ these safety measures, then we can have a fun-filled summer that doesn’t end in healthcare heartache!

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Michelle Fortune can be contacted at