The unprecedented safer-at-home restrictions imposed by Gov. Tony Evers to slow the spread of COVID-19 will work only to the extent Wisconsinites believe in their necessity.

There aren’t enough police officers in Janesville to enforce the restrictions, which are similar to measures taken by other states requiring people to stay home except to carry out “essential” activities, such as grocery shopping and doctor visits.

Wisconsinites must police each other. They shouldn’t follow the restrictions because Evers ordered them but because they believe in the restrictions’ importance. There will be a time to call for rolling back restrictions, but now is not it.

It is still early in the nation’s battle against the coronavirus. We can still “flatten the curve,” as public health experts like to say. We must keep a laser-like focus on our mission: to slow the spread of the virus to prevent overwhelming hospitals and to minimize the death toll. The goal is to prevent too many from getting sick at the same time. We don’t want to become another Italy, where thousands have died in just weeks.

On Tuesday, a World Health Organization official said “we are now seeing a very large acceleration” in U.S. coronavirus infections. It should send chills down every reader’s spine to hear this official’s assessment: The U.S. could become the new epicenter of the pandemic.

It is discouraging to see photos and videos of 20-somethings at beaches and parties over the past week, ignoring government warnings about COVID-19. It’s even more discouraging to see our nation’s top leader, President Trump, vacillate on the need for restrictions implemented by Evers and other governors across the nation.

When Trump downplays restrictions, he’s not listening to the public health experts, such as Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Fauci has advocated for more severe restrictions, not less, at this critical juncture.

When Trump downplays restrictions, he’s listening to extremists within conservative circles who espouse a free-market approach to this pandemic. They’d prefer to let the virus run its course, never mind the millions of Americans it could kill if this nation doesn’t try to “flatten the curve.”

Their short-sighted view rests on some questionable assumptions, namely that the nation’s economy could continue to function amid widespread infections. Even Sen. Lindsey Graham, one of Trump’s closest allies, recognizes the foolishness of a business-as-usual approach.

“It would be a major mistake to suggest any change of course when it comes to containment,” Graham said in an interview Tuesday. “I just spoke with Dr. Fauci—he believes that, if anything, we should be more aggressive and do more ... You can’t have a functioning economy if you have hospitals overflowing.”

And that’s a major point of these measures—to prevent our health care system from collapsing.

To do this, we all must do our part. Make every trip outside your home count. Buy groceries for a whole week, for instance. Don’t run out just to grab a gallon of milk. And when you do go out, take precautions—wash your hands and don’t touch your face.

The pandemic will get worse, but it’s up to us to determine just how bad it gets. Following safer-at-home restrictions is critical to protecting this state’s and our nation’s welfare.