Writing this from Italy, I am also writing to you from your own future. From our state of emergency, we have been watching the crisis unfold in the United States with a terrible sense of foreboding. Please stop waiting for others to tell you what to do; stop blaming the government for doing too much or too little. We all have actions we can take to slow the spread of the disease — and ensuring that your own household has enough canned goods and cleaning supplies is not enough. You can do a lot more. You should do a lot more. Stay away from restaurants, gyms, libraries, movie theaters, bars and cafes, yes. But also: Don’t invite people over for dinner, don’t let your kids go on playdates, don’t take them to the playground, don’t let your teenagers out of your sight. They will sneak out with their friends, they will hold hands, they will share their drinks and food. If this seems too much, consider the following: We are not allowed to hold weddings or funerals. We can’t gather to bury our dead.

For us, it might be too late to avoid an incredible loss of life. But if you decide against taking actions because it seems inconvenient, or because you don’t want to look silly, you can’t say you weren’t warned.