As Georgians grow frustrated with ‘pandemic fatigue,’ doctors say now’s not time to let down guard

As Georgians grow frustrated with ‘pandemic fatigue,’ doctors say now’s not time to let down guard

ATLANTA — Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar is expected to come to Atlanta on Wednesday to tour Grady Memorial Hospital to see how doctors and nurses are handling COVID-19 here.

Grady’s CEO, Dr. Robert Jansen, told Channel 2 Action News on Tuesday that the hospital is starting to see more cases of the virus show up in their critical care unit.

Jansen said now is not the time for people to put down their guard, but Channel 2′s Matt Johnson spoke to some Georgians who said they just want their normal lives back.

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Sherry Brown said her mother hasn’t felt a hug from a family member in eight months. Her mom celebrated her 87th birthday last week surrounded by family on the other side of a window at a Hall County nursing home.

“She’s never spent a holiday alone ever. And she just didn’t live to die alone. It breaks my heart,” Brown told Johnson. “You can’t keep families apart forever.”

Visitors aren’t allowed in nursing homes that are in counties with high COVID-19 infection rates.

Restrictions, quarantines and virtual learning are creating a growing sense of “pandemic fatigue” across Georgia and the country.

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“It’s time to let the rein loose just a little bit. And let’s start stretching our legs and getting back out there,” Brown said.

Dr. Chirag Patel, with Wellstar Health System, said it was fatigue in July that caused a drop in cases to spike.

“Pandemic fatigue, COVID fatigue is a real thing,” Patel said.

On Friday, the U.S. added 70,000 coronavirus cases in a single day for the first time since July.

“More and more cases are starting to come up because people are starting to be more laxed with their discipline and vigilance around these interventions,” Patel said.

The latest White House coronavirus task force report shows Georgia saw a 5% increase in cases last week.

But it isn’t in the red zone anymore for infections, and deaths are down 15%.

“It’s a marathon and not a sprint. I think, we’re just, we’re hitting our stride. But we got a ways to go,” Patel said.

Georgia already has fewer restrictions than most states in the country.

Some families worry about how pandemic fatigue among others may affect them.

Jamie Chambers told Johnson that he lost a relative to COVID-19 and that his 23-year-old daughter is a cancer survivor who is high-risk.

“I don’t think anybody’s a bad person for wanting to do that stuff. But it’s a little bit easier for me because the risk to my family — so right in front of me,” Chambers said. “We’ve stayed just as vigilant.”

The Cherokee County father worries about people feeling burned out with holidays and cold weather coming up.

“It’s just about if everybody’s doing that, if everybody’s giving themselves permission, then that’s going to lead to nasty, not just numbers, but tragedies,” Chambers said.

For Brown, she worries the isolation will do more harm to her mother than the virus.

“How long does my mother have to live? And how long does she have to suffer alone?” Brown said.

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