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'Quarantine fatigue' -- or why my family jumped at the chance to go for a drive

By Clarence Page, Tribune Content Agency on

Few would deny that many thousands of lives have been saved since most stay-at-home orders went into effect in mid-March. For that, we can be grateful.

But our Sunday afternoon anniversary drive helped me to understand on a more personal level how prolonged cocooning can make us very antsy to get outside and open up our economy again.

Researchers at the University of Maryland, for example, have found by using cellphone location data that, for the first time since stay-at-home orders were issued, people are staying at home less.

The shift was slight when it was first noticed during the week of April 13. But any increase in travel, public health experts point out, is premature while the rate of infections is only beginning to level off in some places and still rising in others, and until testing becomes more widespread and contact tracing becomes available.

Yet quarantine fatigue is becoming an increasingly serious matter, say the experts, who detect a historic wave of mental health problems, including depression, substance abuse, post-traumatic stress disorder and suicide.

Very grim. While protesters, some openly carrying rifles and political signs, make headlines in various states by demanding a lifting of the stay-at-home orders, the vast majority of Americans in both parties tell pollsters that they support the government guidelines.

Yet, growing numbers also are venturing out as my family did, whether it is to get back to making a living or to get a haircut (which I desperately need) or even if it is only to have a good house party again.

 

"We are never getting out of this" if residents continue to flout stay-at-home orders by throwing house parties, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot warned in a speech she delivered Saturday from a West Side street corner, after police broke up several house parties the previous night and expected more near where she spoke.

She's right. But while she and Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker continue their strict stay-at-home orders, more than half of the other states have begun to loosen their restrictions.

That leaves the rest of us to feel as I do about driving into what look like shallow floodwaters. When in doubt, sit back and wait for some less patient driver to try it first.

I hope the less-patient states are right, but they could be wading in over their heads.

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(E-mail Clarence Page at cpage@chicagotribune.com.)

(c) 2020 CLARENCE PAGE DISTRIBUTED BY TRIBUNE MEDIA SERVICES, INC.
 

 

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