You bet we’re getting complacent

This ‘Life In Quarantine’ column originally ran on Sunday, June 21, 2020 in the Gaston Gazette.

Maybe we are all just a little bit like President Trump: We are just kind of hoping that one day – *poof* – this virus will just disappear.

Sounds good. Wait, no, it actually sounds great. But we’re dealing with reality here. And even though we may be through with the coronavirus, it’s clearly not through with us.

Even the media has grown tired of talking about it. For the last three weeks, it wasn’t even worthy of “breaking news” status, even though the numbers were trending in the wrong direction. The mainstream media moved on despite the fact that positive cases are still going up. Hospitalizations are too. The only thing trending downward is our vigilance.

Are we getting more brave as we navigate this new world or are we just getting complacent? What we actually have is a case of “quarantine fatigue” – better known as caution fatigue. This is when you become desensitized to a repeated warning and, as a result, you begin to slowly lower your guard.

When this all started, we all really felt we were “in this together”, as we adhered to stay-at-home orders in an effort to “flatten the curve”. Everyone told us these were “uncertain times”, and we believed them.

But now we’re over it. Our collective quarantine batteries are slowly dying, and we don’t quite react with the same level of vigilance we once did.

It’s happened to me. And I bet it’s happened to you. You went to the store and completely forgot to bring your mask. You tell yourself you’ll do better next time.

You forget to wash your hands and then you rub your eyes. You shake hands with a neighbor. Or you hug a loved one. Old habits die hard.

We’ve all loosened up. We’ve become complacent, just like fugitives on the run. At some point they get sloppy, forget to cover their tracks, and then, they get caught.

It’s bound to happen. It’s hard to live life with clenched teeth all the time. We can do it in fits and starts, but to maintain it consistently – over a longer span of time – that’s not easy.

I was hoping we’d be further along by this point. I thought this whole “life in quarantine” thing was just going to be a bump in the road. Instead, it’s become one giant road closure with a neverending detour. And we’re still trying to find our way home.

Let’s face it. It’s not going away – not anytime soon. Even Dr. Anthony Fauci says normalcy may not return for another year. That’s disheartening.

The economy may not bounce back miraculously either. It may not, *poof*, just return to pre-COVID numbers overnight.

This isn’t here for a moment or a season. This will linger on for some time to come. We need to come to grips that this virus is here to stay for a while. We need a marathon-like mindset if we plan to out race it.

Just because it’s in your rearview mirror, doesn’t mean it’s through with you. It’ll do everything in its power to find its way back to you.

Just like Bo and Luke Duke, from the Dukes of Hazzard. You remember them – they were two good ol’ boys that never meant any harm. They always found a way to catch up to the bad guys when they were on the run. They never let detours or road closures get in their way. They always knew of a shortcut.

This virus is just as determined, however, it does mean harm. It’ll simply borrow a page out of the Duke Boy’s playbook and take a shortcut through the country, just pass the old sawmill on Highway 22, where the road will then double back. That’s where – *poof* – it’ll be waiting to get you.

You’ve been warned.