The Light at the End of the Tunnel is Not a Train

How are you feeling?

Right now, it may feel like things are spinning out of control in this complex and noisy world. We are seeing COVID-19 infection rates rise. There is frustration and disillusionment that so many people are not willing to follow the protocols that could prevent that. Work-life balance is challenging when our homes become our workplace and our children’s schools. Critically, our hospital physicians, nurses, and staff have been enduring a crisis workload for a very long time.

So what do we do here in the Medical School? How do we remain stable in this rapidly shifting world? How do we focus our energy on moving forward in a productive and optimistic way?

As an academic institution―where it is our responsibility to foster civil discourse, multiple perspectives, and diversity of opinion―ideas matter. However, we are also a place committed to science and research, and there is a place for facts that are not subject to opinion. These are our guideposts, our compass.

For example: Racism is wrong. Wearing masks help reduce the spread of COVID-19. Science is real. Hydroxychloroquine is not an effective therapy for COVID-19. Winter in Minnesota is cold.

These facts aside, science is never finished. It doesn’t have an endpoint. It is constantly exploring what is not known and connecting what is. And this is where we can find reason for hope and optimism:

  • People are working to end the pandemic.
  • The governor has increased restrictions to get us through the coming months with fewer infections.
  • Research here and elsewhere continues to evolve better treatments, identify promising drugs, and increase our understanding of COVID-19.
  • Pfizer has announced that they have a vaccine that is 90% effective in human trials.
  • We could see distribution of this vaccine begin in December or January, with it being available to most people in the U.S. by the end of April.

Does it help to know that we are beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel? We just have to hold on a little longer. We hold on by leaning on each other, working together, being surrounded by our team, and asking for help if we need it. All of our pandemic support resources are now consolidated in one place: med.umn.edu/covid-fatigue/mental-health. If you haven’t visited this site and looked it over, you will be surprised at the wide variety of strategies and assistance offered. It is there for all of us.

The world can be complex and noisy, and we don’t know what the future holds, but I hope for all of us that we know that we are in a good place to meet that future whatever it is.

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