COVID-19 apathy frustrates hospital leaders

The general public has greeted the nation's latest COVID-19 wave with apathy, a response that's spurred frustration among some hospital leaders.

COVID-19 hospitalizations have been climbing steadily since mid-April, but the magnitude and severity of the current wave is far lower than this winter's omicron surge now that vaccination rates are higher and there's better access to therapeutics. Despite this progress, COVID-19 is still posing a huge burden on public health — a consequence that is not top of mind for many people outside of healthcare right now, hospital leaders say. 

"It's all the same stuff we've been doing all along. … And yet the community's not feeling that at this point," David Carlson, DO, chief physician officer at Tacoma, Wash.-based MultiCare, told The Seattle Times. "I don't have a magic understanding of why that is other than there is just this enormous amount of fatigue, and COVID is not continually the story on the news today."

While early signs suggest the current COVID-19 wave may be slowing, Ulysses Wu, MD, chief epidemiologist at Hartford (Conn.) HealthCare, warned that cases could rise again in the future. 

"With a population that has apathy and doesn't care, what's going to happen is we're going to see wave after wave after wave," he told CT Insider in late May. "We are going to see a downturn at some point, but it really depends how prolonged that downturn is and then what is the depth of that downturn."


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