This coronavirus thing is getting surreal, isn't it?

It's officially a pandemic now, receiving wall-to-wall media coverage and altering the fabric of society. But look around you—things still look mostly normal, right? It's hard to believe that in a matter of days or weeks, life could be very different.

We humans tend to suffer from normalcy bias, a tendency to underestimate the likelihood of a disaster and the severity of that disaster's effects. In short, our brains want to believe that the way things are is the way they'll always be. Plus, we struggle to understand threats we can't see.

Yet public health experts agree: COVID-19 is coming.

The CDC "expects that widespread transmission of COVID-19 in the United States will occur," and it will profoundly affect our daily lives. We must not panic, but neither can we let normalcy bias lull us into inaction. The time for cool-headed preparation is now. Not tomorrow, not next week. Today.

Such preparation might include making sure you have two weeks' worth of food and essential medications stashed away. It might include making plans for how you'll care for older relatives if they get sick. It definitely includes the following recommendations from the CDC:

  1. Wash your hands often
  2. Stay away from sick people
  3. Keep your environment clean

Life is going to be different for a while, but shared challenges bring people together. Let's care for ourselves and one another.