Pandemic Fatigue: The Weight of COVID Begins to Wear Down the World

Nearly two years into the pandemic, who isn’t tired of hearing, talking, or reading about COVID-19?  

Yet people are still dying by the hundreds of thousands — with millions more infected across the United States alone.   

Those who are still working, attending school, rearing children, and trying to stay alive and thrive also might face the invisible, heavy load of pandemic-related pressures that make even simple tasks like going to the grocery store a stress-inducer.   

With these less-than-ideal circumstances, many in the medical field and beyond have announced how it’s more important than ever for people to know about coping mechanisms to better manage stress, protect their immune system, and increase their chances of staying healthy.   

Living in Fight or Flight Mode 

“COVID is maximizing stress for so many people,” Dr. Nammy Patel, author of Age With Style: Your Guide To A Youthful Smile & Healthy Living said. “It has a far-reaching impact into every part of our lives, and if we don’t manage the stress, it severely affects our bodily systems – causing burned-out adrenals, high cortisol, and thyroid issues, to name a few consequences of high-stress levels. Thus, the immune system is lowered, and we are more vulnerable to illness.  

“This era we are living in is very traumatic, and it’s very concerning. In dentistry, gum disease, sleep disturbances or apnea, and teeth breakage can all be evidence of stress. Poor oral health, as studies show, can be a gateway to medical issues. People often don’t identify how much stress they’re under, and how it’s affecting them physically until they actually get sick.”  

From keeping a healthy diet to creating a morning ritual (like deep-breathing exercises) — it doesn’t have to be a rigorous daily regimen to get one’s mind back right, even amidst the external factors that might make people panic.  

“Deep breathing exercises can be calming and get you out of the hyper state,” Dr. Patel says. “You want to get rid of the ‘fight or flight’ mode and enter the ‘rest and digest’ state of mind.”  

From the Omicron variant to hundreds of health officials getting COVID-19, there seems to be no rest for the weary looking for some respite from the situation.  

Some local hospitals were forced to cancel or postpone their procedures due to the rising number of COVID-19 patients, according to a local publication.   

Jacqueline Pflaum-Carlson, M.D., critical care and emergency medicine physician at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, said the overwhelming number of COVID patients have taken its toll on her and her colleagues.   

“With each passing day and each increased patient load and each death, it gets harder and harder to maintain that positive attitude,” she said on the hospital’s website. “Things are hard and we’re doing everything we can and doing our best to keep patients in good care. Have a little grace and consideration in how devastating things are right now.”   

The National Newspaper Publisher’s Association (NNPA) reported that others across the nation are also feeling the lingering effects of the pandemic, like Registered Nurse Currine Smith who feels a sense of doom and anxiety when headed into work.   

“The scene is quite grim,” she said of the Level I trauma hospital where she works in Delaware. “People feel like the light at the end of the tunnel doesn’t exist anymore.”  

“I’m feeling burnout,” said Smith in the article, who saw her medical floor skyrocket with COVID cases amid the current surge.  

“The stress and anxiety I feel wears down on me mentally, emotionally, and physically.”  

She says being a Jehovah’s Witnesses helped her and other health care workers in her religious community face the pandemic head-on.  

Michelle Cabrera, Executive Director of the County Behavioral Health Directors Association (CBHDA), spoke in another NNPA article about the health needs of minority youth. She noted that around the nation — and in California — young people are suffering from a mental health problem, explaining the rising numbers of suicide and high levels of anxiety in schools.  

“The pandemic has also changed the statistics about drug and substance abuse in America,” Cabrera continued. “Data has shown an increase in alcohol and opioid consumption in young people, who are also experiencing a lot more overdoses because of their consumption of fentanyl in the drugs that are used,” she said in the article.  

The Future of COVID?  

There might be some light at the end of the tunnel, however.  

Black Information Network (BIN) reported that even with the Omicron’s fast spread across the world, it might have helped move the coronavirus from the pandemic phase to the endemic phase, Dr. Anthony Fauci said, according to CNN, adding that he is hopeful.  

“That would only be the case if we don’t get another variant that eludes the immune response to the prior variant,” Fauci told the Davos Agenda, a virtual event this week held by the World Economic Forum.  

“We were fortunate” that Omicron did not share some of the same characteristics as Delta, Fauci said, per the outlet. “But the sheer volume of people who are getting infected overrides that rather less level of pathogenicity.” He added, “It is an open question as to whether or not Omicron is going to be the live virus vaccination that everyone is hoping for because you have such a great deal of variability with new variants emerging,” he told CNN recently.  

Fauci’s statements in mid-January were made when health care systems reported treating a large number of COVID-19 patients, according to BIN. Per CNN reports, at least 156,676 Covid-19 patients in the US were hospitalized Monday, January 17 according to data from the Department of Health and Human Services. And nearly 1,700 Americans died from COVID-19 daily over the past week, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.  

COVID-19 testing shortages and long lines have prompted the federal government to get ahead of the many challenges of being swabbed with a new at-home testing system.  

The website is offering tests at no cost (with free shipping) for four free tests per household, WDIV reported.  

The COVID-19 test results, however, won’t be a fast turnaround like being tested in person at an urgent care or testing location.  

The White House also has tests that “will typically ship within 7-12 days of ordering” through the U.S. Postal Service, according to the article.  

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests taking the at-home testing if having COVID-19 systems like a fever, cough, sore throat, respiratory symptoms, and muscle aches, five days after possible COVID-19 exposure, or as part of “test-to-stay protocols in schools and workplaces,” per the article.  

Also, in Detroit, Mayor Mike Duggan announced in early January that the City of Detroit is now offering Pfizer booster doses to everyone ages 12 and up after approval by the Food &Drug Administration, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS).   

The Pfizer booster dose is recommended to be administered five months after completing the primary series, down from six months.  

Also, the CDC has recommended a third dose of the Pfizer vaccine for immunocompromised children ages 5 and up, to be provided 28 days after completing their initial series.   

“It is critical that we protect our children and teens from COVID-19 infection and the complications of severe disease, and data shows that COVID-19 boosters help broaden and strengthen protection against Omicron and other variants,” said Chief Public Health Officer Denise Fair Razo.   

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