Dec. 12, 2022 – Nearly 3 years into the pandemic, many Americans have "mandate fatigue," says the nation's top infectious disease expert.
In an interview with a local Fox television affiliate in New York City on Friday, Anthony Fauci, MD, said “people want to be done with COVID” and they “don't like to be told what to do.”
“We've all been exhausted over the last 3 years,” Fauci said.
He pointed to remarkably low rates of people getting the latest booster against COVID-19 as an example of how little people are willing to do to protect themselves and their families. Nationwide, 13.5% of people age 5 and older have gotten the updated booster, CDC data show. The state with the highest updated booster rate is Vermont at 28%. The lowest uptake rate is in Mississippi, at 5%.
Fauci added that mandate fatigue is “understandable.”
“I mean, obviously you would like people to use good judgment to protect themselves and their family in that community without necessarily having to mandate anything because you know, there is a fatigue about being mandated,” he said. “People don't like to be told what to do. Yeah. But you really want to very strongly encourage people that when you're having a rather strong uptick in infections, which is followed by an uptick in hospitalizations, you want to make sure you do something to mitigate against that.”
All COVID-19 metrics are up by double digits since Thanksgiving, with cases up 56%, deaths up 40%, and hospitalizations up 28% over the past 2 weeks, The New York Times’ data tracker shows.
Some local health officials have been discussing reimposing indoor mask mandates, including in New York City and Los Angeles. The CDC already recommends masking when local COVID-19 rates are high.
The CDC’s community-level “COVID-19 County Check” webpage lists whether local levels are low, medium, or high. If COVID-19 activity is high, the website will recommend testing if you have symptoms and being up-to-date on vaccines and boosters, in addition to wearing a mask indoors.
“But there still is a lot to do to protect yourself and your family and ultimately your community,” Fauci said. “And that's the reason why as we're entering into the winter, we're really putting a full court press on to get people to get that updated booster vaccine.”
Compared to vaccinated people, the unvaccinated account for three times as many COVID-19 cases and six times as many deaths, according to the Times.
The federal website vaccines.gov has a locator feature to find nearby vaccination sites. People can also call 800-232-0233 to find vaccination sites near them.