it's an unusual national emergency. It's a very prolonged one, and for the most part, all we get are numbers rather than actual visuals of the pandemic. We only know that someone has COVID if they make it known. So the person next door could very well have it and you may never find out.*
Those of us who were around when 9/11 happened: we saw the attack happen, we saw the aftermath, we were actually looking at the visuals of that emergency. But with coronavirus, we often don't have anything solid to look at, besides those horrible numbers. For some folks, if it can't be seen, it's not quite real.
Meanwhile, "caution fatigue" (as it's being called) is a thing, and people won't stay on high-alert forever. For me, the stay-at-home advice is very easy to do; it's pretty normal for me. And I don't have to go back into the office (yet) either. But I see the more social animals getting out there, and I cringe, but I also know it's inevitable.
I feel bad for the doctors/scientists because I can feel their frustration through the TV screen. They feel like they're failing in their communication, but this is not a "Big Bad" that you can point a camera at and say, "Look at how nasty and potentially lethal this is." So they can't get through to people who aren't educating themselves anymore, or would just rather pretend it's over.
(*There's also the fact that we are still far away from herd immunity, so we're still in the beginning stages of this virus, which explains why lots of people don't know anyone sick.)