Washington County Health Department Administrator Elizabeth Lehde said in an email exchange this week that the ongoing pandemic has caused feelings of restlessness. She urged the community to remain diligent in curbing the spread of the virus.
“Many people are experiencing pandemic fatigue,” Lehde said. “This comes from many factors, including the continuance of restrictions, heavy messaging, changing information (which is part of the learning process of this new virus), and personal influences. It is also easy to focus on the current situation and not look at what future impact there may be, or to believe that it isn’t as significant as it could be. Most people have mild to moderate symptoms and are able to recover fairly easily; however, that is not a guarantee. So while one individual may “be ok”, someone they pass it to may not be.
“This pandemic is far from over, and it is apparent with the surge in cases nationwide. Increase in cases is likely caused from numerous factors,” she continued. “The change in weather and pandemic fatigue has led to changes in the activity of many people. More activities and gatherings are happening indoors, which increases the risk of transmission. Some are letting their guard down and not following recommended safety precautions. Testing is more readily available than it has been, so people are able to more freely get tested. Recently there has been an increase in spread among household members. Once one person in the house gets it, we are noticing others in the house coming up positive. Our cases are a mix of community spread and known exposure.”
Lehde said with the weather months settling in and the holidays coming up, the Illinois Department of Public Health has issued guidelines to keep safe, including restricting travel and limiting social interactions. She said the health department is also monitoring the trials of the COVID vaccine.
“Another point that will be coming in the future is regarding COVID vaccination,” she said. “Pharmaceutical companies continue to work on testing potential vaccine. Because this is a world-wide initiative, distribution of vaccine will be staggered. PRELIMINARY information that our department is getting from the state is that there are formulated allotments for each county. We will receive doses based on what is available from the manufacturers. In addition, there will be a priority system used to distribute vaccine accordingly in our community. This priority system, including healthcare workers and emergency responders, is being created by state and federal officials and will be closely followed. It is too soon to know when the vaccine will be available for the public, but it looks like it will be in the spring. As we get more definitive information we will be sharing it.”