‘Impending doom’ awaits if we give in to COVID fatigue, CDC director tearfully warns

It is understandable: the desire to embrace an elderly loved one, to shed a mask and smile brightly at the counter clerk, to reunite with a group of friends over a bottle of wine and a gab session. But, this is not the time.

We are COVID weary, to be sure. But we must be wary of our natural instincts for face-to-face communion with others.

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The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention made a tearful public statement last month that she is plagued with a recurring feeling of “impending doom.” Dr. Rochelle Walensky said she fears a fourth wave of the coronavirus may be at our doorsteps.

This is not an irrational fear. Germany hovers on another lockdown. Paris hospitals are on the verge of being overwhelmed with COVID patients. New cases are climbing across the U.S. Science and medicine are trying to gauge the effectiveness of vaccines against new virus variants that are being found near and far.

This is the time to dig deep for the will and the self-discipline to combat COVID fatigue.

President Joe Biden cautioned America recently that “This is deadly serious.” He asked leaders across the land to double down on mask mandates. This is common sense.

Now is the time to channel the spirit of the Greatest Generation. Those who battled in World War II — abroad, in actual combat, and those who contributed to the war effort on the home front — rose to the expectations and requirements of the occasion. And they kept rising until the battle was won. We must remember and follow their lead. This is the American spirit.

Walensky confided that she is “scared.” A little bit of fear is a good thing in a deadly pandemic, and we remain in pandemic gloom despite the pinhole lights of vaccination and the more distant torch of herd immunity.

Coronavirus cases went up in the U.S. by 10% in recent weeks, Walensky said, to about 60,000 cases per day. Likewise, hospitalizations and deaths were trending upward.

More vaccinations are the way. More people are rolling up their sleeves to receive those shots. Still, vaccination is not a panacea. The vaccination effort must be accompanied by the twin protocols of masking and social distancing.

The president said it and citizens must listen: “Now’s not the time to celebrate. It is time to do what we do best as a country: our duty, our jobs, take care of one another … Fight to the finish. Don’t let up now.”

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This is the time for hope, but not complacency. We may be weary but we are not worn down or worn out. We must find the resolve to continue to do the right thing: wear a mask and social distance.

— Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

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