EDITORIAL: Fighting pandemic fatigue will be critical this semester

EDITOR"S NOTE: An earlier version of this story had a typo that misidentified the number of COVID-19 deaths in Michigan. The story has been updated with the accurate number. As of Friday, Jan. 14 Michigan has 1,709,593 confirmed cases and 28,228 deaths.

We’re all tired of it. So are you.

As Central Michigan University begins another semester, we're still dealing with COVID-19

We’ve suffered this pandemic for almost two years. We’ve watched the case numbers rise and fall like a roller coaster of disaster. 

Even though vaccines and treatments promise that someday life will return to normalcy, the road to get there is much longer than we thought. 

Let’s be honest; all this bad news just feels normal. 

Pandemic fatigue is real – and if you feel it – you’re not alone.

Last semester, the counseling center was overwhelmed by the number of students seeking individual appointments proving the immense toll the pandemic has had on our mental health. 

Nobody expected the emotional toll of switching back to in-person after a year of isolation. That back and forth is exhausting. Now, the Omicron variant makes it feel like we’re right back where we started.

At the beginning of the pandemic, it was all about survival. We were motivated by fear but over time that fear began to subside. Now, it’s a lot easier to think, "Maybe I don’t need to get tested," or "If I'm not symptomatic, a positive test doesn’t count."

The danger of the Omicron variant cannot be understated. Tens of thousands of cases are reported every day and our state-wide death toll is inching toward 30,000.

Many of us students are living in that hell. It’s getting harder to find a person that doesn’t know at least one person who’s been hospitalized or killed by the virus.

Persevere now – because things may be back to normal sooner than we think.

If what experts are telling us is true, this variant's shelf life is short. In South Africa, where the Omicron was first detected, case numbers peaked within four weeks and saw a rapid decline to manageable numbers according to The New York Times.

Some universities have gone back to online classes and require students to be vaccinated. At CMU, in-person classes are still offered while the vaccine and booster shot are still not required for enrollment. 

Thankfully, the booster shot is now required for fully vaccinated status while those who are unvaccinated will still submit to weekly testing. The university will continue to enforce masks in its academic buildings along with isolation and quarantine guidelines. 

None of it matters unless we take initiative.

It’s up to us to keep not just the campus healthy but also the city of Mount Pleasant, the greater Mid-Michigan region and the entire state. 

You already know the drill, continue to wear a mask in public and get vaccinated if you haven’t already. If you are vaccinated, be sure to get your booster shot.

At the same time, don’t let the COVID-19 fatigue drag this pandemic out any longer. You must find the strength within yourself to continue to stay safe.

Fear may not be your motivation to fight COVID-19 anymore but what about your parents, friends or roommates? What about the other members of the CMU and Mount Pleasant community? What about the healthcare workers, small business owners and teachers that face the brunt of the damage?

Last semester, we got some of our college experiences back. We could gather with our RSOs, go out to restaurants and bars, travel and experience new things.