Pandemic Fatigue

Early March: We realize that this virus that started in China has reached other countries and seems to be very contagious. Visitors from affected countries are not welcome to visit us. As the awareness grows, returnees from affected countries are asked to quarantine for 2 weeks- and then, as the virus spreads, the country all but closes down. People are permitted to go out only for essential needs: food, medical care. assisting older relatives, visiting non-custodial children. We stay home. We play video games, call friends, zoom.  Some finally get around to doing things they’ve been meaning to do for months or years. Others realize that it wasn’t the lack of time that was keeping them from those chores.

Most of us are good-natured about it. We joke about home-schooling, about having to cook, about finally recognizing that the person we share our life with is fun to be with- or not so much fun. And it goes on and on.

And then governments begin to realize that it can’t go on forever without devastating consequences. Not everyone can work from home. People have lost their income. Farmers can’t harvest their crops, get their produce to market, children (and their mothers) are climbing the walls. The numbers of sick are diminishing. This has to end.

Early May: The powers that be in many countries realize that the lock-down has to end. They devise criteria and timelines in order not to put too many people at too much risk. The formerly empty stores now can have limited customers as long as they are masked. Slowly take-out only food sources become open air restaurants. Schools are open on a part-time, distancing basis.

But people are people. Children want to play together. Preteens and teenagers hug the friends they haven’t seen for 6 weeks. Little ones chase each  around the playground. Friends meet for lunch or dinner. Masks are forgotten. They are uncomfortable,  The virus time is over.

If only the virus itself knew that. If only the invisible droplets that cause such illness and death just disappeared. But as much as we wish it away, it doesn’t seem to be leaving. and now that we all (here in Israel and throughout the world) have contracted Pandemic Fatigue, we are less careful and are assisting this virus by our nonchalance. We are used to things happening fast. How many times have you started to read an article and stopped because it was too long? (Guilty as charged). How many times have we yelled, “Hurry up!” or turned the A/C down to a low temperature or pounded an elevator button because we just can’t wait?

Unfortunately, we cannot hurry this virus along. We can defeat it only by protecting ourselves and others steadily and consistently. A bit of prayer might help too.

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