Battling coronavirus fatigue: A message from Meck County health director

CHARLOTTE — We are almost five months into this pandemic, and some feel it’s been longer than that.

Mecklenburg County Public Health Director Gibbie Harris said she feels it too. While we’ve got to change our routines, she said it’s also the time to change our mindset.

“Exhausting,” Harris told Channel 9 on Friday.

Many are feeling the coronavirus fatigue and Harris said she is not an exception. She said the virus isn’t going away anytime soon -- even when there is a vaccine.

Harris said there will be people who will get a vaccine if one is available

“People must accept that life is just going to be different for a while,” she said.

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Harris mentioned that it is the same type of adjustment society had to make when it came to tobacco use and wearing seat belts.

“It’s just hard, it’s hard work. Most people aren’t keen on significant change. Change is hard,” she said.

There are societal norms that must change, such as wearing a mask, which takes getting used to for everyone, Harris said.

“There are times I’ve walked out of my apartment into the parking deck and realized when I got to the car that I forgot my mask. I didn’t see anybody in that quick walk but at the same time, I forgot it,” Harris said. “I have to go back and get it. It’s learned behavior.”

Harris said people need to think about interactions in social settings and gatherings. She said it’s great to see people wearing their masks for social gatherings but then people are taking their masks down to talk to each other or taking them down for photos.

“Unfortunately, people have their masks on, but they are down here -- your nose is exposed,” she said, explaining how people improperly wear their masks. “We are snuggling up close to make sure we can all get in the picture and everybody’s masks are down, and it’s those sorts of behaviors I think that puts people most at risk and they don’t even think about it.”

[READ MORE: Some who test positive for COVID-19 not cooperating with contact tracers]

Harris also mentioned that contract tracers have been calling people trying to pinpoint where they got the virus, but there have been issues. They’re finding people could have picked it up in three or four places, because of how active they were without taking precautions.

She believes if people take safety measures seriously, there will be a decline in cases. Harris said that while we all want to do normal things, there are safe ways to do that, which includes gathering in large groups, social distancing and wearing masks.

“You can still get out,” Harris said. “You can still go places and you can still do things. This is not easy for any of us and it won’t be for some time. We need to be kind to ourselves and kind to each other.”