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Caution fatigue
Don’t give up on healthy choices
Life on the Ark.jpg

By the time Great Bend High School held its 2020 graduation ceremony on June 27, it appeared social distancing was over. The seniors’ chairs were spaced 6 feet apart and the administrators and school board members congratulated the students without shaking their hands, but the stadium of onlookers was packed. And as soon as the ceremony ended, the students left the folding chairs and families left the bleachers and everyone headed to the mosh pit on the football field to hug and offer congratulations.

This comes as the number of COVID-19 cases in Kansas is again on the rise and as Gov. Laura Kelly announced that most Kansans are required to wear a mask when in a public space, when social distancing of 6 feet cannot be maintained, even outside, beginning at 12:01 a.m. Friday.

Americans are suffering from what Jacqueline Gollan, an associate professor at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, calls coronavirus “caution fatigue,” according to a recent Time magazine article. “Gollan likens social-distancing motivation to a battery.” People were fully charged when first asked to flatten the curve, but six months later, they are feeling drained.

There’s also coronavirus information fatigue. As Barton County health officials reveal the daily count of confirmed COVID-19 cases (57 as of Wednesday), readers begin to grow weary of hearing the updates. Some have suggested this is no longer “news.” Others, however, have thanked us for providing information as it becomes available.

Sheriff Brian Bellendir also sounded a bit drained Wednesday when he posted that, no, he doesn’t intend to arrest people who refuse to wear masks. He said he’d received numerous calls over the last two days about enforcement of Gov. Laura Kelly’s “face-mask order.”

“Based on review of the statutes, the Barton County Sheriff’s Office will not be enforcing the non-wearing of masks or using any of our resources to respond to calls simply because someone is not wearing a mask,” the sheriff stated.

You may get away with not wearing a mask, or you may have a good reason not to wear one. We should all do our best to keep each other safe. No one should simply give up on being cautious because we’re tired of being cautious. 

“(Wearing a mask when appropriate) is a simple, proactive step we can take to keep Kansans at work, get our kids back to school, and keep ourselves and our neighbors healthy,” Governor Kelly said. “Wearing a mask is not only safe – but it is necessary to avoid another shutdown.

“Remember – my mask protects you, and your mask protects me. We’re all in this together.”

Instead of thinking of social distancing, wearing a mask at times, and washing your hands as restrictions, try thinking of it as a service to others. Or think about the things you want to be able to do and won’t be able to do if you are sick or in isolation. Stay healthy and socially connected; relax. Just don’t give up. We’ve got a long way to go.

— Susan Thacker is News Editor of the Great Bend Tribune. Contact her at