NJ Top Health Official: “New Normal” Will Persist for Foreseeable Future, Drug Overdoses Continue to Rise

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A young man makes heroin in, preparing to take heroin, pours heroin into a spoon. The concept of crime and drug addiction.

TRENTON, NJ – If you think things in New Jersey are going to return to normal, think again.  New Jersey Department of Health Commission Judith Persichili, who warned of a “Twindemic” this fall said on Monday that the “new normal” will be here for the foreseeable future and COVID-19 fatigue is beginning to show itself around the state.

“We’ve been working together for more than six months to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in our state. We know that this new normal will persist for the foreseeable future, and all these factors are causing what is called pandemic fatigue,” Persichili said.  “Pandemic fatigue is a feeling of exhaustion from the effects of COVID-19 health emergency on our lives. The key sign of pandemic fatigue is weariness. People may also feel helpless, sad and irritable. Those experiencing this fatigue may have trouble focusing or may have trouble with eating, or they may be sleeping less, or more than usual or lack motivation and become withdrawn.”

That fatigue, Persichili said has lead to an increase in drug addiction as overdose deaths in New Jersey continue to rise under Governor Phil Murphy’s draconic COVID-19 measures.  Some estimates now claim COVID-19 fatigue is now killing more New Jerseyans than the actual virus itself.

“While we may be feeling burned out, it’s important that we take steps to care for our physical and mental health. Work on getting more sleep and eating nutritious foods. Unplug from social media and the news,” she said.  “Go for walks, read a book, try another activity that can help calm your mind. Connect with others by a phone call or video chat. Social support is vital to mitigating stress. As tired as we all are from battling of the pandemic, we have to continue to take precautions such as wearing face coverings and social distancing because this virus is still circulating and we need to stay the course in this fight. It’s like running a marathon. It’s a long race and we are all going to get to the finish line, but it’s going to take time and perseverance.”

Persichili noted that individuals are dealing with mental health stressors, some may turn to alcohol and drugs to cope. This May, New Jersey saw the highest number of suspected drug-related deaths seen in any month, not just for 2020 but for 2019 and for 2018 as well. Overall, the state has seen a 12% increase in suspected drug-related deaths from January to July 2020 when compared to the same period last year.

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