Temperatures are dropping, COVID-19 cases are rising and quarantine fatigue is taking hold once again. It’s easy to feel tired of the pandemic restrictions that have shaped everyday life.

People first started feeling the effects of quarantine fatigue in the spring amid the first wave of COVID-19 cases. The summer offered some relief, as outdoor dining opened up and families spent more time outside. As winter approaches, Richard Martinello, MD, Medical Director of Infection Prevention, warns now is not the time to get complacent.

“When people are not being careful about gathering, when they’re not wearing their masks, that does lead to more transmission of COVID and it leads to higher rates and higher risks for all of us,” Dr. Martinello said.

 

mask wearing woman in winter

 

In addition to COVID-19, flu season puts some people, especially children and older adults, at risk. Dr. Martinello recommends everyone get their flu shot as soon as possible. Protecting yourself from the flu is an important first step in staying safe this winter.

Even if you’ve gotten your flu shot, prepare yourself for more time indoors. During the first lockdown, people took up new hobbies like learning to play an instrument or working on home improvement projects. Think of some activities now that will keep you occupied.

“One of the things I’ve tried myself over the last several months is to make sourdough bread,” Dr. Martinello said. “Despite my affection for yeast and for bacteria, my sourdough bread has not been good yet. So I’m continuing to work on it.”

Don’t underestimate the power of human connection. Dr. Martinello suggests setting up a weekly phone call with a friend. You can also meet up outside for a walk or hike where it’s easy to stay six feet apart and wear masks.

 

Zoom call with a friend

 

Dr. Martinello acknowledges that this winter will be very hard for a lot of people, especially as holiday traditions get sidelined. But consistently wearing masks, social distancing and hand washing will help to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in the coming months.

“We are going to be able to get through this winter together, but we’re going to have to help each other,” he said.