DENVER (KDVR) — With Denver’s COVID-19 case numbers rising for three consecutive weeks, Mayor Michael Hancock announced new public health measures that require people to wear face coverings in more settings and reduce the number of people who can gather from 10 to five.
“Our orders and our actions are really meant to remind people this is real,” he said during a news conference announcing the changes Friday morning.
But he acknowledged that people are tired of wearing masks, social distancing and changing rules.
“Oftentimes, these orders or tightening of these orders are about responding and reminding people we still have this pandemic in our society. They are cause and effect and consequences of not following these orders. I need to sound the alarm: if we don’t do these things, the consequences, quite frankly, could be devastating,” he said.
By mid-afternoon, word of the new restrictions had not yet made it to the basketball court at Washington Park, but some of the players said it would not change their behavior.
“Yeah, ‘COVID fatigue’ is definitely a thing. This is a spot where you can kind of weigh the risks and I’d be willing to take it in a park rather than somewhere else. Myself personally, I get tested on a regular basis for my job anyway so it’s the risk I’m wiling to take to get that exercise. I think it’s safer than being in a gym or being indoors, or even going to eat a restaurant, quite frankly,” Adi Malkan told FOX31.
Dr. Sherly Ziegler, founder and managing director of The Child & Family Therapy Center at Lowry said she believes the problem goes beyond physical illness.
“I think what’s happened with COVID, it’s not just a health crisis. It’s a mental health crisis. It’s also an economic crisis. I see there’s a lot of stressors going on, between the pandemic only getting worse and we see these numbers increasing as well as the election. There is stress in the air,” she said.
Ziegler told FOX31 she believes “COVID fatigue” is real and says going back to a more restrictive environment can be stressful.
“Experience isn’t going help us in these cases. It’s just going to add to the fatigue and the sense of, ‘I’ve already been here, done that.’ Is there a light at the end of this tunnel? What I’m seeing is people bracing themselves for the winter is going to be worse, but telling themselves it has to get better in the spring, or there has to be a vaccine. It’s like bargaining like, ‘I think I can get through this winter if you tell me there will be a vaccine or you tell me this will be done with by spring, I can probably do that and hang on,'” she said.
The best way to cope with the ever-changing situation is to control what you can control, Ziegler said.
“We feel very powerless and things are out of our control, but whatever you can control, control,” she said.
This includes avoiding the use of drugs or alcohol as coping a mechanism. She also encourages city and state leaders to be clear in their messaging to residents.
“I think we need our leadership to be clear and consistent on messaging and explain to public why these new restrictions or people won’t buy in,” she said.
Some say despite the fatigue, even stricter rules should be put into place.
“The stricter they are, the faster it’s going to go away. Let’s suffer, all of us, for a short period of time so we can end this. Then you can have as much fun as you want,” Mady Iventa said.