“Flattening the curve,” a phrase few of us had heard of a month ago, has arrived as an urgent national mantra akin to Rosie the Riveter’s “We can do it.” This call to arms reminds us how those on the front lines—the vulnerable (and equally scared) doctors, nurses, EMTs, paramedics, and other health-care professionals—benefit when all of us do our own little bit, and, in turn, how helping those first responders gives the inevitable patients, whoever they may end up being, the best chance of survival.

It is a collective act of almost unprecedented community spirit, a fundamental statement of how we stand together as a species. The many act to protect the few—an almost tribal, communitarian instinct that is all too rare in modern life.

COVID-19 is hitting the United States at a moment when partisanship and politics seem to define too much of our individual identity and worldview—and even one’s assessment of how serious a threat the coronavirus poses. But with cases in all 50 states, the virus is erasing distinctions between red and blue.

In the absence of meaningful national leadership, Americans across the country are making their own decisions for our collective well-being.