2022 is the year many people have decided, the day the coronavirus pandemic will end.
President Joe Biden said as much in an interview with 60 minutes in September “The pandemic is over,” he said while walking around the Detroit Auto Show. “We still have a problem with COVID. We are doing a lot of work on it. But the pandemic is over.
His testimony? “No one wears a disguise. Everyone seems to be in pretty good shape.”
But during the week, Biden said that approximately 360 people are still dying each day from COVID-19 in the United States. Globally, about ten thousand deaths are recorded every week. That ‘many 10,000’, since most of these deaths could have been prevented, Director General of the World Health Organization Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a brief news release. Then of course there are millions who are still lingering long after the cancer symptoms.
Those staggering numbers have people panicked, perhaps because those cities are on the heels of two years of record-breaking death tolls (SN Online: 5/18/22). Indifference to the rising death toll may reflect a pandemic fatigue that has settled deep in the public psyche, leaving many safe and secure.
“We don’t warn people about fatigue,” says Teresa Chapple-McGruder, an epidemiologist in the Chicago area. “We didn’t warn people of the fact that pandemics can last a long time and you still need people to be willing to take care of yourselves, your neighbors, your community.”
Public health agencies around the world, including in Singapore and Britain, have reinforced the idea that we can “return to normal” by learning to “live with COVID”. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has raised the threshold for case counts that would be trigger masking (SN Online: 3/3/22). The agency also suggested shortening the isolation period for infected people to five days, although most people still test positive for the virus and potentially others have been infected for several days longer (SN Online: 8/19/22).
Different lines cause confusion and the burden of deciding when to personalize, prove and stay at home for each individual. Essentially, the policy moved from public safety – protecting your community – to individual safety – protecting yourself.
Doing your part can be draining, says Eric Kennedy, a sociologist specializing in disaster management at York University in Toronto. “Public health said, ‘Hey, you need to make the right choices every moment of your life.'” Of course, they’re tired of it.
Doing the right thing – from getting vaccinated to doing household chores – doesn’t always pay off on a personal level. As good as vaccines are at keeping people from becoming seriously ill or dying from COVID-19, they are not as effective at protecting against infection. This year, many people who tried to make safe choices and avoided COVID-19 were infected by variants of omicron (SN Online: 4/22/22). People sometimes got reinfected – some more than once (SN: 7/16/22 & 7/30/22, p. 8).
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Those infections can contribute to feelings of helplessness. “I like, ‘I did the best. And even with all that work, I still have. So why do I try? “says Kennedy, the head of the Canadian project monitoring the sociological effects of the covid 19 pandemic.
Getting vaccinated, masking and getting drugs or antibody treatments can reduce the severity of the infection and the chances of infecting others. “We’re talking about this as a community health issue and not a personal health issue,” Chapple-McGruder says. “We also do not talk about our uptake” [of these tools] it is nowhere near what we need” to avoid hundreds of deaths every day.
Due to the lack of information about how far the coronavirus is still spreading, it is difficult to say whether the pandemic is over. In the United States, the influx of home tests is “a blessing and a curse,” says Beth Blauer, data lead at the University’s Coronavirus Resource Center at Johns Hopkins. The tests were carried out at the request of those who were told whether they were infected and quarantined. But because those events were rarely reported to public health officials, the number of cases became difficult to estimate, creating a large data gap (SN Online: 5/27/22).
The flow of COVID-19 data from many state and local agencies has also slowed slightly. In October, the CDC also began reporting cases and deaths weekly instead of daily. All in all, the calculation of the corona virus has become worse than ever.
“We’re told,” “It’s up to you now to decide what to do,” said Blauer, “but the data isn’t there to inform real-time decision-making.”
With COVID-19 fatigue so widespread, businesses, governments and other organizations have ways to step in and find their part, Kennedy says. For example, requiring better ventilation and filtration in public buildings to clean indoor air and reduce the chance of many respiratory infections spreading, along with COVID-19. Behind-the-scenes intervention is that individuals don’t have to spend mental energy worrying about it, he says.
Bottom line: People have stopped worrying about COVID-19, but the virus is still not with us. We have spent two and a half years in a long, dark tunnel, and we are beginning to see the light at the end of that tunnel. But there is still a long way to go,” WHO Tedros said. “the tunnel” still dark, with many obstacles who might offend us if we are not careful.’ If the virus resurfaces, will we see it coming and have the strength to fight again?
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