If you’re not acknowledging the problem by now, you are part of the problem.

The problem is, of course, COVID-19. And it’s real.

There are many questions with unknown answers. And that’s what makes this such a slippery slope. That’s what’s sparking uncertainty and, in some cases, fear. That’s what makes this different from other viruses in the past.

We hope, a few weeks or months from now, everything happening — closed schools, canceled events, travel restrictions, the shutdown of sports leagues — will look like wild overreactions. That’s the best-case scenario. But whether we reach that point, it’s too early to tell.

In the meantime, here are some and inarguable facts to chew on:

— After initially downplaying the COCID-19 outbreak, President Donald Trump declared a national emergency Friday.

— The NCAA didn’t pull the plug on March Madness and give up hundreds of millions of dollars to make the president look bad. Or to inconvenience you. Nor did the other sports leagues that have paused their seasons act with those motives.

Get over that kind of thinking. It’s petty, dangerous and foolish.

No, all of these steps — the unprecedented actions — were made for our protection.

Protection.

Protection.

Protection.

And that is all. So stop looking for other reasons.

That’s why schools will be closed until April 15.That’s why there’s virtually nothing that’s not vital happening now.

Now it’s for all of us to help. And that’s the easy part. Because it involves some simple steps we’ve been hearing about for weeks:

— Wash your hands with soap for at least 20 seconds. (You should have been doing this all along.)

— Cover your mouth with your arm or a tissue when you cough or sneeze.

— If you don’t feel good, stay home. Work remotely if you can or have to.

— And avoid crowds if you are pregnant, older or have a weakened immune system.

— Keep high-traffic and high-germ areas clean.

— Oh, and don’t hoard toilet paper and sanitizer. Take what you need and leave some for the next shopper.

This is not a fun time. It’s stressful and sometimes scary. Nobody is enjoying it. Not the government. Not the media. Not people making difficult decisions.

Maybe, months from now, when with a little luck we are all looking back on this moment, we’ll see overreaction. Maybe the pandemic has peaked and it will start to backslide in the days to come.

There’s no way to know.

And that’s the reason for such drastic action. If we don’t encounter more problems, though, remember this time. Because the tough decisions being made now might be a big reason why.

An editorial adapted from the Aberdeen American News, South Dakota.