Don’t Succumb to ‘COVID Caution Fatigue'
The novel coronavirus COVID-19 has changed behaviors in our society as we have adjusted to new everyday practices that reduce risk. For months you may have been practicing social distancing, washing your hands frequently, using bottle after bottle of hand sanitizer, disinfecting surfaces assiduously, staying home as much as possible, and wearing a face covering in public. You have remained well physically, are tired of following the rules of prevention, and are ready to relax. Perhaps you have a false sense of security if you have not been directly impacted by COVID, if neither you nor anyone with whom you are closely associated has contracted the virus. This condition has been called “COVID caution fatigue.”
Too many people are failing to take precautions and follow the simple steps that have been proven to prevent transmission of the virus. As Alabama is experiencing increased numbers of cases and, regrettably, more deaths, now is not the time to let your guard down. Ignoring the evidence-based guidance poses dangers to you, your family, and your community just because you are experiencing occasional burnout.
Young men and women are thought to drive some of the rise in cases, perhaps because of their perceived invincibility since most cases are mild. Many millennials rely on social media and other sources that are not necessarily qualified to guide health decisions. Other adults mistakenly view practices such as wearing face coverings as political statements. The virus is highly contagious and threatening to everyone. Regardless of age, disability, or underlying risk factors we are all interconnected and can spread the infection to others who are more vulnerable than ourselves.
To offset reckless behavior in this time of uncertainty, experts suggest doing the things that give physical, emotional, and spiritual energy. Do not attempt to cope by misusing substances as some Alabamians have done. The Office of Emergency Medical Services found a significant increase in the administration of naloxone for drug overdoses this spring as compared with pre-pandemic levels. Instead of dealing with stress and anxiety by misusing drugs, including alcohol, engage in physical activity, eat nutritious food, drink plenty of water, and get sufficient sleep.
I urge you to carefully consider your actions and be consistent in maintaining your newly acquired habits as we live through this serious pandemic. Ultimately, it is every individual’s responsibility to take the necessary steps to help contain the spread, care for others, and save lives at this unique time. COVID-19 cases and deaths in Alabama continue to rise, but each of us has the power to reverse this alarming trend.
Scott Harris, M.D.
State Health Officer