Have had enough with Covid: Fatigue sets in
When the coronavirus began sweeping around the globe this spring, people from Seattle to Rome to London cancelled weddings and vacations, cut off visits with grandparents and hunkered down in their homes for what they thought would be a brief but essential period of isolation.
But summer did not extinguish the virus. And with fall has come another dangerous, uncontrolled surge of infections that in parts of the world is the worst of the pandemic so far.
The virus has taken different paths through the US and European countries as leaders have tried to tamp down the spread with a range of restrictions. Shared, though, is a public weariness and a growing tendency to risk the dangers of the coronavirus, out of desire or necessity.
With no end in sight, many people are flocking to bars, family parties, bowling alleys and sporting events much as they did before the virus hit, and others must return to school or work as communities seek to resuscitate economies. And in sharp contrast to the spring, the rituals of hope and unity that helped people endure the first surge of the virus have given way to exhaustion and frustration.
“People are done putting hearts on their windows and teddy bears out for scavenger hunts,” said Katie Rosenberg, the mayor of Wausau, a city of 38,000 where a hospital has opened an extra unit to treat Covid-19 patients. “They have had enough.”
Ann Vossen, a medical microbiologist in the Netherlands, where daily cases doubled last week, said people across Europe “let go too much”. She added: “This is the result.”
In parts of the world where the virus is resurging, the outbreaks and a rising sense of apathy are colliding, making for a dangerous combination. Health officials say the growing impatience is a new challenge.
The issue is particularly stark in the US, which has more known cases and deaths than any other country, and has already weathered two major coronavirus surges. But a similar phenomenon is sending off alarms across Europe, where researchers from WHO estimate that about half of the population is experiencing “pandemic fatigue”.