How You Can Defeat Covid-19 Fatigue

The Human Connection

February 24, 2021 by

Being isolated from other people is not OK. I’m not the only one totally done with the isolation that’s become a new normal. Loneliness has infected a lot more people I know than COVID. The effects of isolation have been wreaking havoc on people’s mental and emotional health. What we did to protect each other from COVID ended up driving us apart – and “COVID fatigue” is now a tandem epidemic.

Many at my church community were alarmed about this too. We started looking for ways to go on the offensive against this pox of COVID fatigue attacking our neighborhoods. Now, I’m a nurse. The lens I look through demands that we consider what’s truly causing COVID fatigue, and then how to tackle it safely. And here’s the cause I saw: Disconnection.

Mollie administering a dose of the vaccineMollie administering a dose of the vaccine. February 2021.

As most of you know, vitamin C is essential to keep the immune system healthy enough to defend against attacks by viruses and other bad bugs. What you may not know is the also-essential nature of the “other vitamin C,” as one doctor calls it – Vitamin Connect. As in, human connection. Without real, non-electronic connection to others, loneliness, anxiety, and stress (a.k.a. COVID fatigue) weaken us. Seriously, researchers recognize those things as health hazards. Look it up!

That thought, “human connection as a preventative,” got me looking for ways to bolster connection between lonely people. Then a call from the County Health Department came in.

Volunteers for the MRC (Medical Response Corp) were needed ASAP. The first shipment of COVID vaccine was on the way! This was the opportunity I’d been looking for: real live people helping real live people – count me in!

Along with other healthcare professionals, folks with clerical skills, and random support staff from the Bruderhof, I signed up. The next day I headed to join the war effort at a nearby vaccine clinic.

What a blast! The place was alive with positive vibes. Teamwork and comradery between the personnel, including some rather unlikely allies, was amazing. Everyone was there to be there for others – fellow volunteers from the most random backgrounds and life experiences. Not a whine nor whimper came from anyone about the long hours, fast pace, or awkward field hospital conditions.

Each of the thousands of vaccine candidates – retirees, firemen, law enforcement, teachers, healthcare workers – were glad to be there (OK, many were a little anxious). But patient cooperation was at an all-time high. This was a seriously happy place.

Unforgettable was the elderly lady, ninety-some years old, who braved single-digit, windy weather to come in for her vaccine. She was courteously escorted to my station by two young volunteers. Before sitting down, she thanked everyone in earshot for taking time off of work and interrupting their lives to be there. “You have no idea what this is doing for me. I can’t remember being so happy. Seeing all these people; talking to people. You know, after staying inside my house since March. I got deliveries and talked on the phone, but it’s been so damn lonely. Could hardly take it anymore. You all are angels!” She sat down sobbing. The pain caused by the disconnection from other people was clear. Healing could start now that she once again could interact and connect face-to-face with other human beings, even if briefly and behind a mask.

Volunteers at a clinic in Orange County, NY, in front of a mural painted by Bruderhof artistsVolunteers at a clinic in Orange County, NY, in front of a mural painted by Bruderhof artists from the Bellvale Bruderhof; Mollie is second from left. February 2021.

Countless stories were shared with me as I administered their vaccines; stories of isolation, of the grief of losing loved ones, of suffering alone over the past year. Their common need wasn’t just vaccination, it was human connection.

After vaccination, patients were sent to Observation for fifteen minutes. But the majority finally had to be ushered out after a lot longer than fifteen minutes (space was limited). They’d been so happy hanging out and chatting together, time flew by. Now I ask you, since when do New Yorkers willingly wait longer than necessary? Never.

Cheerful banter and mask-muted laughter from Observation became the spark that fueled us on. Eleven hundred vaccinations later, we were physically exhausted but rejuvenated. The joy gained through joining forces to serve our county made life OK again. We had a win! COVID and COVID fatigue be damned. People were vaccinated and reconnected.

Mollie Voll lives with her husband, Hans, at Fox Hill, a Bruderhof in Walden, New York.


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