Of all the words and phrases that have bullied their way into our lexicon since the coronavirus pandemic emerged last March, perhaps the most frightening new phrase for our healthcare force is this—COVID fatigue.

We are all weary of staying at home, physical distancing, wearing face coverings, constant hand washing, testing, re-testing, quarantining, Zoom meetings, and virtual classes, and we’re tired of reading and hearing about the pandemic 24 hours a day as if it were an inescapable alarm.

But it is exactly those feelings that alarm government healthcare leaders, as well as our doctors, nurses, and therapists who work day-to-day in hospitals and clinics throughout the country, in Illinois, and even locally. They know that COVID fatigue can lead to complacency and that a lack of diligence can easily cause another spike in coronavirus cases.  It has already happened in many states and in many counties in Illinois. Today, I’m asking you to double-down and do everything you can to prevent a coronavirus resurgence in our community and at Illinois State University.

Due to enhanced testing, tracing, tracking, and cleaning by ISU staff, along with more vigilant adherence to COVID-19 protocols from our students, the University’s coronavirus cases and positivity rates have been a success story as of late.

But if we let our guard down even for a moment, those numbers could jump to the same levels they reached two months ago, making life difficult for the campus community and dangerous for our most vulnerable populations.

As the weather turns colder in the coming days and weeks, there will be more televised sporting and entertainment events—inviting greater opportunities to congregate indoors. I once again appeal to you to keep those gatherings small.

Remain physically distanced, always wear face coverings, wash your hands often, and keep surfaces clean.  I am well aware that these words are emblematic of the very topic of this letter, but we cannot afford to slip up as we head into the homestretch of this semester.

I have been proud of the way that most students have followed our COVID-19 guidelines. I am not on the Quad as often as usual these days, but when I do walk around campus, I am gratified to see appropriate distancing and the wearing of face coverings, especially those Redbird coverings!  I appreciate your efforts, and I know your faculty, staff, and classmates do as well.

So please, make an extra effort to “fight the fatigue.” We are all in this together, and together we will complete a successful and healthy fall 2020 semester.