‘COVID annoyance’ plays role in virus spike with holidays on the horizon

As people get ready for Thanksgiving, an infectious disease specialist worries that “coronavirus annoyance” will lead to more cases of COVID-19 when families gather to give thanks in two weeks.

“There’s not only COVID fatigue, I think there is now real COVID annoyance,” Dr. William Schaffner, infectious disease specialist at Vanderbilt Medical Center, told WTOP.

He said the recent spike in coronavirus cases is due in part to the rise in people’s annoyance with the virus and health restrictions.

To Schaffner, this loss of patience and discipline — which leads people to disregard coronavirus restrictions — has fueled the recent spike in coronavirus cases and hospitalizations.

“Many just want it to go away, but of course it won’t,” he said.

“Its only job is to infect another person and it’s doing that very, very efficiently.”

Texas reached 1 million confirmed COVID-19 cases on Tuesday with California close behind and some D.C. area jurisdictions hit all-time coronavirus highs.

Health experts fear that people will disregard social distancing and mask wearing for the holidays and then create a boom in coronavirus cases too large for nation’s health system to handle.

The Vanderbilt doctor painted a grim picture of the approaching holidays, calling it a “dark place” and “ominous.”

“Hospitals are filling up again, people are really sick and give it another week or two and I’m afraid the death rate will go up,” he said.

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Despite the bleak outlook on the pandemic, Schaffner said there are ways to get the coronavirus under control. He pointed to Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand and China as examples.

But currently, the U.S. national response is not working, he said.

“We’ve done the experiment of subcontracting the control of this outbreak to the governors and the various states,” the health expert noted.

“That’s failed. Look at the data.”

Listen to Dr. Schaffner's full interview on WTOP

With an effective vaccine now on the horizon, Schaffner believes the country will benefit, although not immediately and not before the holidays.

“It will take us months to vaccinate everybody whom we would like to vaccinate.”

In the mean time, he urged people to adhere to coronavirus health guidelines on Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa and the New Year.

“Don’t throw away your mask. We’ll have to keep up with the masking and the social distancing.”

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