There is a new strain of virus now in this pandemic. It is Virus Fatigue and, like Covid-19 itself, there is no vaccine but there are plenty of coping mechanisms.
Yes, everyone is weary of the 24/7 news coverage, the travel and lifestyle restrictions, the constant reminders about wearing masks and keeping our social distance, the uncertainty of the future.
Some are taking their cues from President Trump and have secured themselves in the cocoon of obstinance, labeling anything they disagree with about the pandemic as “fake news.” Finding reasons not to wear a mask or blame the media for hyping the virus is a thriving cottage industry.
I have had more arguments on the air, via text and through email with the never-maskers than I can count, and most have ended in a stalemate. I’m not going to change their minds and they are not going to change mine about the benefits of following consensus advice from health officials.
Oh well, it’s a free country (and, no, being asked or told to wear a mask in a public building does not rise to the level of an erosion of fundamental freedoms).
For everyone else, the pandemic is like being on a sailboat caught in a windstorm. You batten down the hatches and hang on, but you don’t know how long the storm will last or whether you are going to get out of it unscathed.
That uncertainty is exhausting, thus the Virus Fatigue.
While the never-maskers are irritating, they are not the majority. Look around and you see people being careful, businesses taking precautions, institutions like colleges and the public schools trying their hardest to figure out the best and safest way forward.
That is what leaders do. They gather information and set a practical course forward for the rest of us to follow.
And they count on people being resilient. Routines are safe and predictable, but they get broken. When they do, we either go to pieces or heed the advice of Robert Frost who said, “The only way out is through.”
The ‘through’ route can wear you down, but it eventually gets you to where you want to go, to where we want to go, which is to a place where the virus is no longer a serious threat to our health and our economic well-being.
Personally, I like our chances of getting the better of Covid-19, maybe even sooner than later. True, viruses are impressive from an evolutionary perspective. They have found a way to survive and mutate over millions of years.
But they cannot survive without a host, which gives humans the upper hand. Our ability to take simple precautions and adjust our lives accordingly, while counting on intelligent and motivated researchers to come up with a vaccine will carry the day.
And in our ultimate display of empathy, we will do these things for the never-maskers, even if they refuse to do them for us.