#Editorial: Despite Pandemic Fatigue, We Must Find the Collective Will to Move Forward

Garth A. Rose

photo via Miami Herald

It’s now going on seven months that the U.S. and so many other countries have been struggling to live with COVID-19. Despite efforts to prevent its spread, this stubborn pandemic continues to create severe illness, take lives, and rob us of the normalcy of life. We are growing increasingly weary, and it is affecting almost all aspects of our lives. 

Psychologists, psychiatrists and many others have been sounding the alarm, reporting the significant negative effects COVID-19 is having on so many people’s mental health. The disease has virtually erased some of the normal lifestyle outlets that would have allowed people to cope with life’s stresses and challenges.

Currently, there is relatively little normal activity outside the home. Most sporting events are closed to fans and although some restaurants are opening to limited capacity, many people are not confident enough to risk dining in. Movie theaters are mostly closed and bars, a popular stress-relieving venue, are very limited in their service—if they are even allowed to operate. In many states, students—from kindergarten to college—are forced to learn from home on online portals, deprived of social interaction on campuses. And, millions of people seeking refuge and fellowship in church are unable to do so, as several churches remain closed or are limited to significantly fewer parishioners.

With no definitive end in sight for the pandemic and news of daily spikes in contamination and deaths, people become increasingly weary. As the fatigue sets in and people yearn for normalcy, more of us are willing to ignore mask-wearing and social distancing, notwithstanding the risk of death hovering about us.

Indirectly, the pandemic is creating problems that are increasing weariness, which psychologists are also cautioning is sparking a sharp increase in suicides and domestic violence.

Because of the impact on job and income security, a large percentage of the community is experiencing severe financial hardships. Many are unable to pay rent, as eviction and homelessness loom, and many more are unable to feed themselves and their families. The food-distribution car lines that stretch for miles at several locations across South Florida is evidence of the dire food insecurity crisis.

To compound the issue, we’re in the middle of a contentious political season, and the fatigue spilling over from COVID-19 is causing apathy among some voters. 

The recent general elections held in countries including Trinidad and Tobago and Jamaica, revealed sharp declines in voter participation, as many stayed away, fearful of COVID-19 contamination.

Here in the U.S., 2020 may be one of the most unfortunate years to hold a general election. Not only are people expressing fear in going out to vote personally, there are also indications voters are weary of politicians and their failure to adequately represent their interests.

Several pollsters and political analysts are finding that as people struggle with financial challenges from job loss and reduced incomes, they are losing faith in Congressional Democrats and Republicans. As the two political parties fail to find a compromise in passing a bill that assures financial aid to them, some potential voters are indicating an unwillingness to vote. They are simply fed up of the political process and politicians who aren’t helping them.  

For many, 2020 may be the most challenging year of their lives but, for those old enough to recall, 1968 was also a very difficult year. America was involved in the Vietnam War, students were rioting and demonstrating in several cities, two prominent leaders, Democratic Party presidential candidate Robert Kennedy and civil rights icon Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., were assassinated; and the American society was in general turmoil amidst a presidential election campaign. But, the country was able to find the collective will to overcome this turmoil and move ahead positively.

So, although we feel worn from this persistent plague and all its repercussions, we cannot afford to lose hope. This is time to find strength from whichever source we choose and behave sensibly and responsibly. To do otherwise—to lose faith and hope in society and the political process, isn’t the solution. We must press on, hopeful of victory.

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