‘Return to normal’ leaves immunocompromised people behind

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Key points to remember

  • COVID-related fatigue is leading many to push for a “return to normal” despite the ongoing pandemic.
  • These attitudes influence government decisions and lead to the abrupt cessation of public health measures.
  • Immunocompromised people still face a very real threat of serious illness or death from COVID-19, and it is our shared responsibility to continue to take the necessary steps to protect them, experts have said.

The United States is on the verge of reaching a grim milestone: 1 million deaths from COVID-19. But COVID fatigue, or the urge to reopen everything, has dominated media narratives in recent weeks.

Two years into the pandemic, Americans seem fed up with COVID-19 restrictions. Many are expressing a strong desire to “return to normal,” as states like New York and California have ended indoor mask mandates.

But for the millions of immunocompromised American adults, appeasement is not an option. This group is at higher risk of serious illness from COVID-19.

Due to the push towards normality and the lifting of COVID-19 measures, immunocompromised people are being left behind.

In a virality Tweeter, blogger and disability activist, Lisa Marie Walters, laid out the problem clearly. “Immunocompromised people cannot simply live in a vacuum,” she wrote. “They are also part of society. These are your doctors, teachers, bankers, baristas, grocery clerks, etc. Please stop saying that high risk people should just stay home so others can live their lives without inconvenience.

Robert Amler, MD

All public health measures depend on cooperative behaviors. Even officially imposed restrictions lose their effect when fatigue causes us to lower our vigilance and lower our guard.

—Robert Amler, MD

What is COVID Fatigue?

COVID fatigue can be described as “a state of near exhaustion brought on by months of pandemic-related disruption with no clear end in sight,” according to Robert Amler, MD, dean of the School of Health Sciences and Practice at New York Medical College. .

Amler, a former chief medical officer at the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, where he specialized in infectious diseases, said the combined effects of frustration, isolation, boredom and feelings of inefficiency have taken their toll, leaving people more impatient than ever. to see the pandemic end.

The United States is not alone in dealing with COVID fatigue. In Canada, a convoy of protesters occupied the nation’s capital for weeks demanding an end to all COVID-related health measures (although it became clear that the occupation was more about white supremacy and harmed rights than ‘something else). A number of Canadian provinces have also announced plans to drop vaccination and mask mandates in the coming weeks and months.

According to Amler, the change in attitude related to fatigue in North America is probably one of the reasons for governments to change their approach and abandon safety measures.

“All public health measures depend on cooperative behaviors,” he said. “Even officially imposed restrictions lose their effect when fatigue causes us to lower our vigilance and lower our guard.”

Legacy media also helped push for the lifting of all restrictions. As American scientist columnist Steven W. Thrasher pointed this out in his recent article “There’s Nothing Normal About a Million People Died from COVID“, mainstream publications have been “beating a drum toll for being ‘back to normal’ for months. The effect is fabricated consent to normalize mass death and suffering – to subtly suggest to Americans that they want to to move on.”

The virus still threatens those at high risk

In reality, however, the virus doesn’t care what people want and it will continue, at least for the foreseeable future, to pose a significant threat to those at high risk, regardless of genuine COVID fatigue.

“The virus is still there, still virulent and can still cause fatal infection, especially in people with compromised immunity. Even people without symptoms can transmit the virus to them,” Amler said, emphasizing the need to continue taking precautions regardless of local public health measures.

He said every eligible person should be vaccinated and backed up at the recommended times, and everyone should continue to wear masks indoors and observe other basic precautions to prevent transmission.

We must take careful steps to avoid exposing immunocompromised people and children under five, he added, as they cannot be vaccinated but can become infected and transmit the virus to others.

He said there are also ways to combat COVID-related fatigue without completely abandoning those whose lives are most at risk.

“Take steps to reduce fatigue without reducing protective measures that will work to stop transmission of the virus and eventually stop the pandemic,” he said. “Seek mental health support if you feel the need. Fight fatigue by being creative with daily routines, maintaining connections with friends and loved ones, learning about progress so far, and focusing on hope for a post-pandemic return to a greater freedom and enjoyable activities.

What this means for you

If you are experiencing pandemic fatigue, you are far from alone. Be sure to put your mental health first by getting creative with your routines and staying in touch with loved ones while remembering that immunocompromised people need our continued support and protection.

The information in this article is current as of the date indicated, which means that more recent information may be available when you read this. For the most recent updates on COVID-19, visit our coronavirus news page.

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