There's a new disease sweeping the nation, and it's COVID fatigue.

It's been a long year. Since March, we've heard daily about the coronavirus and the COVID-19 disease that it causes.

On Monday, March 23, we reported the first case of COVID-19 here in Wapello County. Now, six months and 10 days later, we've seen more than 1,300 cases of the disease.

That's just what's confirmed. Experts say the number is likely higher, due to a lack of testing early on and that people can have the disease and be asymptomatic or have symptoms that rival a cold.

COVID-19 fatigue is real. You read about this disease constantly — since the start of March we've published hundreds of stories on the coronavirus. A quick count shows nearly 650 local news and sports stories have mentioned COVID-19 in the Ottumwa Courier.

So, we get it. Our keyboards get it. Our reporters get it. We've had to write and report on this topic a lot, and we have found ourselves fatigued at times, too.

That doesn't mean we just move on and ignore the reality.

If we want to keep businesses open, workers at work and the kids at school, we need to keep focusing on mitigation efforts:

— Spread out, keeping six or more feet between you and another person.

— Wear a mask in public, especially when you can't socially distance.

— Limit your attendance at public gatherings when possible. For gatherings that are necessary, limit the number of people attending if possible.

— Wash your hands, regularly. When you can't, use hand sanitizer.

— Monitor your health, and don't leave home if you're sick or have a fever. If you cough or sneeze, cover your mouth and nose, and then wash your hands.

— Clean and disinfect regularly used surfaces around you.

These are the tips we've been hearing from experts for months. Being tired of hearing about this virus doesn't change science, and doesn't lessen the importance of these steps.

The science around the disease has changed over time, as those studying learn more. But what we know today is the disease is mild and survivable in many, many cases. However, for many in our community, a COVID-19 diagnosis brings the very real possibility of death or a serious hospitalization.

Even if we ourselves are not in that latter category, we have a responsibility to act appropriately to save lives. Across the state, the college and working class are blamed for the disease's growth ongoing. And while this category is generally at low-risk, this age group does not isolate amongst itself. The fear is spread amongst the youth and young adults in our area, which could also spread to the older, more vulnerable folks. We also don't yet know for sure how this disease affects one's health long-term.

Friday's shocking news that the President of the United States has contracted the virus and is experiencing mild symptoms should be a wake-up call. This virus does not care who you are, it does not care that you're tired of hearing about it.

Be responsible and do the right thing: Listen to the experts, follow mitigation strategies, and lets work together to minimize the impact of this virus on our community.

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