COVID-19 cases are continuing to spike in the Garden State and coronavirus fatigue is being blamed.

According to William Hallman, a Rutgers University professor of experimental psychology and chairman of the Department of Human Ecology, the stress of dealing with the health emergency is affecting New Jersey residents in ways that may result in  some disregard of required protections.

He said some people get depressed about the pandemic while others get fatalistic, thinking "I’ll take my chances; I want to live my life." Hallman said other people get burned out and become reckless.

“They say, 'I’m done with this, I’m going to go ahead and I’m going to take a chance, I’m going to live my life,'” he said.

Others may get fed up with precautions and try to offset the risks by engaging in healthier behaviors such as exercising or stress-eating health foods.

He also some choose to believe that germs come from other people who they don’t know, not their family or circle of close friends.

"Having to social distance and avoid large gatherings has been difficult for a lot of people," he said. "There are lots of families that have not really seen each other since March, who frankly miss each other, they miss human contact, and that’s really understandable.”

He also pointed out some people walk around with an unrealistic sense of optimism.

“They believe COVID happens to other people," he said.

The professor noted some individuals will also look to their role models to help them decide how to behave, and in the case of President Trump, that means not following masking or social distance behaviors. He said we need to continue to drive home the fact that the coronavirus is not a good judge of character, that it can affect people regardless of who they are.

Hallman also pointed out we also need to remind everyone that it’s not OK if they simply decide to have one social gathering because they want to think “one time, one exception won’t matter."

"We’ve seen, unfortunately, that it does matter that those types of gatherings are indeed spreading COVID virus,” he said.

He said to keep people from getting COVID fatigue and making bad choices we need to drive home the fact that all of us together must make the right choices, which means telling friends who want to socialize or family members who want to get together for Thanksgiving: “I could never forgive myself if I unintentionally brought COVID to Thanksgiving dinner, it’s just not worth that risk.”

He said as the holiday season approaches there will be party invitations from friends and loved ones.

“We need to be prepared to kind of address that and say I love you too much to really get together,” he said.

On Sunday, Gov. Phil Murphy reported more than 2,000 new cases and four deaths, for a total of 14,629 confirmed fatalities.

You can contact reporter David Matthau at

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