Photo Credit: Emara Saez/Achona Online
After seven months of dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, many Americans are beginning to give up on safety measures and lockdown procedures. Many thought summer would bring the end of the virus, but as fall rolls around, the pandemic has reached an all time high in some areas.
Many are feeling exhausted as a result of the pandemic’s impact on our lives, leading to a loss of urgency and vigilance surrounding COVID-19. This phenomenon is known as pandemic fatigue. With the end of the pandemic nowhere in sight, sticking to COVID-19 guidelines may seem like more of a challenge than ever before. Of course, slipping into this mindset can be incredibly dangerous for individuals and their communities.
“We now know more about the nature of COVID-19 than we did in March. I still feel that the coronavirus pandemic is very serious but have a better idea now of how to do certain activities safely. For example, I now eat at restaurants safely by only sitting outdoors, going during unpopular times, and wearing a mask while interacting with waiters and other restaurant staff. I’ve personally faced pandemic fatigue in the sense that I’m tired of others not doing what they can to slow the spread of coronavirus. Wearing a mask and being responsible during a pandemic is what we can do to end the pandemic as soon as possible and go back to ‘normal’ life,” said Stephanie Oehler (’21).
As COVID-19 cases spike all around the country, it’s likely that pandemic fatigue is a large contributor to the uptick. On Sunday, Oct. 25, the US hit a seven day all-time high of 68,767 daily new cases. New cases combined with flu season this winter will likely form a deadly combination across the US as hospitals and emergency rooms are expected to be overwhelmed.
We NEED to combat our pandemic fatigue and remain extra vigilant.
Wash your hands. Keep a social distance. Wear a mask. Use your commonsense for the common good and for your own good.
— Governor Phil Murphy (@GovMurphy) October 22, 2020
Disease experts have pointed to two main causes of pandemic fatigue: perceived susceptibility and perceived severity. As cases have skyrocketed in the US, many who have not already contracted the virus may believe their chances of contracting it are low. Depending on where you live, you might only know a few people who have gotten sick. As the pandemic progresses, you might be lulled into a false sense of security if your actions violating safety protocols have not resulted in contraction of the virus. All of these factors can lower perceived susceptibility.
As for perceived severity, the death rate has dropped as doctors have gained a better understanding of the virus. This combined with other factors like your age, wealth, and overall health may cause you to think the virus “is not that bad,” lowering your perceived severity. This combined with mixed messages from government leaders has caused much of the US to relax their COVID-19 vigilance.
Here at Academy, students are doing their best to ensure the safety of their peers despite pandemic fatigue. Vice Principal Erin Krukar sent out an email at the mid-semester mark reminding students to social distance during lunch, wear their masks properly, and monitor themselves for COVID-19 symptoms. It’s normal to want to return to pre-pandemic life, but complacency is not beneficial for anyone’s safety, especially at school where students and faculty gather in large numbers.
“My mom and I do various things to stay positive [despite pandemic fatigue]. At the beginning of quarantine, we got chalk and wrote cute notes to our neighbors on the sidewalk since we live in a big dog-walking neighborhood. I would try to go outside as much as possible and workout. I would also go out to my backyard and tan in my bikini since I couldn’t really go to the beach, just trying to make the best of a bad situation. I would also Facetime my friends all the time, literally everyday. As stuff started opening up, I was able to see my small group of friends often. We protect each other by looking out for each other and doing what we can while still being safe,” said Kailey McDonald (’21).
This is going to seem so obvious and trite.
But everyone is forgetting it.
You are tired, irritable, and anxious. All the time.
There is nothing particularly wrong with you.
You are living in a worldwide pandemic.
Cut yourself some slack and those you love too.
— Mike the Disturber 🌈🌱😈 (@sacwriter) October 23, 2020
In order to deal with pandemic fatigue, do your best to take care of your emotional and mental health. It can be easy to get caught up in the uncertainty of this pandemic, but try to pause and recharge when you need it.
Staying up to date on the pandemic is also important, but constantly consuming COVID-19 information can drain your energy. It’s important to stay informed, but being positive is also essential. Try to limit your news consumption to about an hour or two per day, and try to find news sources that do not dramatize the pandemic.
Being alone can also lead to pandemic fatigue, so remember to reach out to friends and family. Social distancing and masks are crucial for preventing the spread of COVID-19, but there are still safe ways to connect with others. As the holidays approach, encourage your friends and family to celebrate responsibly.
“At the beginning of the pandemic, I thought it was so fun. I didn’t think it was a big deal, I just thought ‘yay no school.’ Now, I feel like this has gone on for way too long. I just want my old life back. Now, I’m trying to get off my technology more. For example, in the beginning it was so easy to just be on TikTok forever, and now I’ve deleted it,” said Elle Rinker (’21).
Although you may be sick of constant hand washing and mask wearing, do your best to reframe your thinking. When you feel frustrated, remind yourself that we all must follow safety procedures for our communal health. You play a larger part in humanity by keeping yourself and others safe.
As public weariness increases, it’s important to remember that the pandemic isn’t over because we are tired of it. Becoming lax with safety protocols may seem tempting, but doing so will only harm us all in the long run. We do not have control over the pandemic, but we do have control over how we respond to the challenges posed by it.