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TIM BURKE: COVID is wearing us down mentally and physically

People are getting worn out mentally and physically by the COVID-19 pandemic. A large part of the population is just tired of wearing masks and social distancing. The isolation that people feel is a real problem.

Nevada officials are concerned about “COVID fatigue,” describing frustrated and restless residents who now choose to ignore recommended pandemic precautions. Last week, Gov. Sisolak acknowledged an “alarming trend” of new cases and hospitalizations across Nevada, which he attributed to fatigue. Likewise, the Nevada Hospital Association said this month the “profound apathy of the general public” could be causing a rise in patients.

Casually observing our local residents, it appears that most everyone is wearing a mask while in public. People wear masks as they walk into local restaurants and bars, but as soon as they are seated, those masks come off! The rules in Las Vegas are a little different than here. You must keep your mask on even after you are seated until your food or drink is on your table. How is it safer to keep your mask on until your food or drink comes instead of taking it off immediately after being seated? It is that example of different rules without any supporting evidence that is contributing to the fatigue.

We are social creatures. We want to get out and be with people and do fun things together. Businesses are doing their part by creating social distancing seating, frequently sanitizing, enforcing rules for staff members to wear their masks, and placing hand sanitizers throughout their establishments. Patrons respect the businesses’ COVID rules because they realize that they could get fined or closed down if they don’t. Meanwhile, business owners fear another government shutdown as the COVID-19 numbers are starting to rise again.

A year ago, the economy was roaring, unemployment was at an all-time low, and our nation seemed to be humming along, then COVID-19 hits us squarely across the jaw as 2020 starts. Politicians quickly politicized the pandemic, the economy shut down, unemployment skyrocketed, and businesses closed. No one can predict if or when the pandemic will ease up, allowing us to return to everyday life. Meanwhile, business owners are highly stressed, and their customers are growing weary of constantly changing rules.

COVID-19 does not adhere to the bell curve principle of slowly rising at first, then rising steeply until it smoothly crests the peak, and then follows the same curve as it goes down until it’s flat.

It’s more like a cheap carnival roller coaster. Your roller coaster car climbs to the steepest point, then plunges recklessly down, then up, then down again as it throws you back and forth while you hang on for dear life, hoping that the roller coaster car doesn’t decide to fly apart during your ride.

In what seems like an eternity as you jerk back and forth, the ride comes suddenly ends, and your car glides to a stop. You step out, relieved that you survived. COVID-19 follows no predictable path, jerking back and forth, up and down, but unlike the carnival roller coaster, there seems to be no end to this ride. The scientists, doctors, and politicians think they can control the spread of the virus with shutdowns, quarantines, masks, and the like but can they? It will not go away on its own, and until a vaccine is found and then given to enough people, it will keep us masked and bottled up.

Soon the holiday season arrives, and stores will crowd with shoppers. Families will gather in homes. It’s not likely that families will be wearing masks in their homes, increasing the likelihood of spreading the virus. But people are tired of being isolated and caged up. They are to the point where they are willing to take their chances.

Tim Burke is a businessman, philanthropist, educator and Pahrump resident. Contact him at timstakenv@gmail.com

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