80 U.S. VETERANS MAGAZINE WWW.USVETERANSMAGAZINE.COM
HEALTH & WELLNESS
he vaccines are here. This marks a critical turning point - a year into the pandemic - in the fight against a virulent disease that has wrecked months-long havoc to lives and livelihood. Millions of Americans have already been vaccinated from COVID-19; millions more are awaiting their turn. This is welcome news that brings renewed optimism. Our collective jubilation, however, is tempered by caveats from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Experts estimate that the United States is still months away from reaching the threshold of herd immunity. To cut the chain of transmission, at least 70 percent of the U.S. population - or over 200 million people - would have to recover from the illness and achieve natural immunity or undergo vaccinations. According to CDC, only 7.9 percent of the U.S. population - or just over 26 million people - have been given the recommended two doses as of press time. This sobering reality is compounded by the arrival of highly contagious variants - increasing exponentially - which could spark new outbreaks and undermine vaccination progress. This does not augur well for the public sentiment that has been aching to return to a semblance of normalcy.
FIRST THE FEAR, NOW THE FATIGUE
In the early days of the pandemic, as the infection spiked, fear was foremost in everyones mind. Few questioned government- imposed lockdowns,
How to Mitigate Pandemic Fatigue
By Susan Au Allen: National President & CEO, US Pan Asian American Chamber of Commerce Education Foundation (USPAACC)
restrictions of unfettered movements, enforced social distancing and other health protocols. Public compliance was high. Today, more than a year later, the public attitude has changed: fear has been supplanted by fatigue. People have become more relaxed due to collective boredom, exhaustion, impatience or a sense of apathy - a phenomenon experts refer to as pandemic fatigue. Uncertainty, a sense of lack of control and limited options fuel anxiety. This leads to profound shifts in social and work behaviors, as well as consumer preferences. Humans - social animals who are naturally in need of constant contact with each other - will keep on seeking out one another. Signs are everywhere: recent outbreaks have been traced to bars, restaurants and air travel. An exhausted public has begun to disregard health protocols. This trend will continue. What likely emerges next is a vicious cycle. When the public lets its guard down, health protocols will be broken. This will then trigger more infections. Eventually, this will lead to more restrictions - and pandemic fatigue will worsen.
THE BUSINESS OF COPING
There simply is no available playbook in corporate America and government today that offers guidance on how to effectively handle pandemic fatigue. Psychologists counsel that the art of mitigating pandemic-related fatigue begins with accepting the current reality. It is also important to accept that the adaptations in how people work these days could become protracted or even permanent. With workflow significantly disrupted, output and morale are at their nadir. Employees have hit the motivational wall. Social calendars are wiped clean. Small talk among office colleagues - including spontaneous gossip sessions next to the water cooler - is replaced by seemingly interminable, back-to-back video calls that ironically lead many to feel more disconnected than ever. Since the work-from-home
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