President Donald Trump speaks during a briefing about the coronavirus...

President Donald Trump speaks during a briefing about the coronavirus at the White House on Sunday. Credit: AP / Alex Brandon

America is beginning to understand the meaning of life with the national emergency that is coronavirus.

As the virus continues to advance, classes for 25 million students have been canceled across the country, including those on Long Island and in New York City. Mandated closures are wiping our social calendars clean. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended Sunday that for the next eight weeks events of 50 people or more be canceled or postponed. And our elected officials repeatedly warn us that more might be on the table as we fight the virus' scourge. 

These are uneasy times as evidenced by President Donald Trump's unusual Sunday afternoon news conference as the Federal Reserve slashed interest rates to nearly zero to ease markets. Trump has held several news conferences, unfortunately he continues to focus on escaping criticism for the federal government's response. The nation is still far behind where it needs to be in testing capacity for the virus. 

But there are some actions we can take individually to help slow the spread of COVID-19: social distancing. We are amid a health crisis, and to prevent more deaths, we have to keep the number of infected people low enough that hospitals can care for them. Isolating ourselves as much as possible can help.

That means staying at home or, when outside for truly necessary trips, staying at least six feet away from non-household members. It does not mean going out to bars, or grabbing a birthday meal with co-workers. Gatherings can be postponed. 

Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has been very clear on this front, but many other government officials haven't — including the president. 

This has been a national crisis in which state and local leaders have had to take the lead. Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo smartly has banned gatherings of more than 500 people. It’s the right move to close downstate schools, along with childcare support for parents. Cuomo on Sunday asked private businesses to “aggressively consider voluntary closings,” and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is limiting bars and restaurants to take out and delivery. More action, including federally, may be necessary if people don’t face the new reality.

Many organizations on Long Island and in New York City are taking the sensible route. 

New Yorkers are familiar with life under threat. The terrorists didn’t win after 9/11 because the state soldiered on. This is different. Germs don’t care if we are brazenly brave.

You are not being fearful or panicky if you hunker down at home. You are helping the doctors and nurses who will have to care for the sick, and the first responders who transport them. You are helping to curb the spread of the virus from reaching older or vulnerable neighbors. It’s what you can do to help all those who need to be out and about risking their health.

Do the right thing. Stay home.

—The editorial board