Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Hesham A Hassaballa's COLUMN

We Cannot Succumb to “Pandemic Fatigue”

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Just today, I received three emails from two different hospitals about the importance of maintaining good practice of PPE (personal protective equipment). The communications reminded us — healthcare professionals, no less — about the importance of continuing to wear masks over both our face AND nose. It reminded us to continue to social distance, wash our hands frequently, and clean our workspaces. It reminded us to not let “pandemic fatigue” set in.

Indeed, published reports also talk about “pandemic fatigue” and the worry such fatigue is causing public health officials as virus cases surge once again in Europe. Here in the United States, the number of cases is also growing, and as the colder weather sets in, it is quite concerning that the pandemic will only get worse.

This is very concerning to me.

SARS CoV-2 is not taking a break. SARS CoV-2 is not suffering from “pandemic fatigue.” SARS CoV-2 is not letting up, and the more we become lax with public health measures, the more of a foothold the virus will gain in our communities.

It’s really not that hard.

Whenever we are in public, we need to wear a mask. We don’t need to wear a mask when we are in our cars alone; we don’t need to wear a mask if we are walking with family outside; we don’t need to wear a mask when we are at home. We just need to wear a mask when we are with other people in public. That’s it.

We need to maintain social distancing. The fact that we are yearning for social interaction between each other is encouraging, and it bodes well for our humanity. That said, if we want to crush the transmission curve, we need to keep our distance from each other.

We need to wash our hands and wash our hands a lot. Research has shown that SARS CoV-2 can last up to 9 hours on human skin. We should not go 9 hours without washing our hands, especially if we are out and about getting groceries or gas. As far as I am concerned, one cannot wash his or her hands enough times in the day.

SARS CoV-2 is not taking any breaks or time off. We need to remain vigilant.

We are not even close to being out of the woods with this pandemic. The flu pandemic of 1918 lasted for two years. Millions of people died. While I am hopeful we will not have the same scale of death and destruction, we still need to realize that the war against SARS CoV-2 is a long one, and we need to remain vigilant and not let down our guard.

Even if we get a vaccine — one that is safe and effective — soon, it will take a long time to distribute to enough people to make an impact. That’s assuming that enough people will even want to take the vaccine. That is also assuming that the vaccine will confer long-lasting immunity. Those are all unknown at this point, and thus we need to not let up the fight against this disease.

“Pandemic fatigue” is understandable. We all want to get back to the way life was before Covid-19. I get it, and I feel the same way. At the same time, we need to remember that this virus is deadly. It doesn’t just kill you. It tortures you for weeks on end and then takes your life when you are battered and alone. It is a horrific monster, and if we can avoid getting it, we should do so at all costs.

SARS CoV-2 is not taking any breaks. SARS CoV-2 is not taking any time off. It is relentless, and so too must be our resolve to fight against it. Our weapons are masks, soap and water, hand sanitizer, and social distancing. We cannot let down our guard; we cannot ease up. We cannot let “pandemic fatigue” get the best of us. It is truly a matter of life and death.

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Dr. Hesham A. Hassaballahttp://drhassaballa.com
Dr. Hesham A. Hassaballa is a NY Times featured Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine specialist in clinical practice for over 20 years. He is Board Certified in Internal Medicine, Pulmonary Medicine, Critical Care Medicine, and Sleep Medicine. He is a prolific writer, with dozens of peer-reviewed scientific articles and medical blog posts. He is a Physician Leader and published author. His latest book is "Code Blue," a medical thriller.

DR HESHAM A HASSABLLA

Medika Editor: Cardio and Pulmonary

Dr. Hesham A. Hassaballa is a NY Times featured Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine specialist in clinical practice for over 20 years. He is Board Certified in Internal Medicine, Pulmonary Medicine, Critical Care Medicine, and Sleep Medicine.

He is a prolific writer, with dozens of peer-reviewed scientific articles and medical blog posts. He is a Physician Leader and published author. His latest book is "Code Blue," a medical thriller.

Medika are also thrilled to announce Hesham has recently joined our team as an Editor for BeingWell, Medika's publication on Medium

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