'Don't lose hope': How to deal with COVID-19 fatigue as cases rise, restrictions increase

By , KYW Newsradio 1060

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) -- As coronavirus case counts soar, cities and states are imposing more restrictions for residents and businesses. And with Thanksgiving and the winter holiday season approaching, stress levels are even higher for people who are experiencing COVID-19 fatigue.

Eight months in, the pandemic is wearing on people, affecting friends, neighbors and family in different ways. It’s a health crisis, first and foremost, that has led to deaths and hospitalizations. The efforts of local and state governments to slow the spread of the virus has led to tightened restrictions, struggling businesses, closed doors, and loss of jobs and income.

The way we interact with each other, even those closest to us, has changed as well.

KYW Newsradio medical editor Dr. Brian McDonough says a Kaiser Family Foundation poll in July found that the mental health of more than half of U.S. adults had been negatively affected because of worry and stress over the coronavirus.

So how should one deal with that worry and stress? Dr. Christina Zampitella, a clinical psychologist and founder of the Center for Grief and Trauma Therapy, tells NBC 10 that she suggests people try not to forget to take care of themselves through healthy eating, exercise and staying in touch with their loved ones remotely.

She also says we need to keep track of our social media usage.

“How much time are you spending on social media? What are you looking at? Are you getting into conversations with people that really just have you ruminating and thinking over and over again about these worst-case scenarios?” Zampitella said.

She says she would like to encourage people to stay away from those worst-case scenarios.

The worst news may be tempered somewhat by encouraging vaccine trial results from drugmakers Moderna and Pfizer. So, as health officials emphasize vigilance during the fall surge, they also want to paint a more optimistic picture than at beginning of the pandemic.

U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams tweeted on Saturday: "As we continue to see #COVID19 cases, I want to encourage everyone to not let pandemic fatigue set in. There is a light at the end of tunnel. We have a vaccine in sight & we know the steps we need to take to slow the spread of COVID-19."

McDonough says we all need to really believe that things will get better. And we can ground ourselves by finding safe activities that bring us joy.

CBS News chief medical correspondent Dr. Jonathan LaPook says our knowledge can help carry us through this next phase of the pandemic. We know more now about the coronavirus than we did in March.

"Don't lose hope right now," he said. "This is the time to double down on all those fundamental measures we've taken -- especially wearing a mask. If we do that, we can flatten the curve. Remember that? 'Flattening the curve?' So that, when the vaccine comes along, we have a better chance of getting this pandemic under control."

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, says it can't be overstated how important those basic steps are.

“We don’t need to lock the country down," Fauci said. "You do universal wearing of masks, physical distance, avoiding crowds, doing things outdoor more than indoor, washing hands. If everybody did that uniformly, I think we can turn this around.”

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