Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, is perhaps the one person that virtually everyone trusts to give us the straight dope on the coronavirus epidemic. He is, for example, the only guy who has the backbone—and the credibility—to stand up to President Trump and persist in telling him the bald truth about how long it will take to produce a vaccine (a year to a year and a half, in case you’re curious).
“I don’t think that we are going to get out of this completely unscathed,” he said. “I think that this is going to be one of those things we look back on and say boy, that was bad.”
….“It could be really, really bad. I don’t think it’s gonna be, because I think we’d be able to do the kind of mitigation. It could be mild. I don’t think it’s going to be that mild either. It’s really going to depend on how we mobilize.”
This is not a firm prognosis, but that’s natural considering the current state of our knowledge. In a nutshell, Fauci thinks the coronavirus outbreak isn’t going to be mild and isn’t going to be “really, really” bad. It’s most likely to be in the range of normal badness.
That’s a little hard to parse, I admit, but I’d interpret it as: the government needs to get its shit together; people need to take sensible precautions; but it’s not so horrible that anyone needs to panic.¹ Wash your hands a lot and maybe lay in a little extra supply of essential medications. But you really don’t need to stock up on bottled water and canned goods. Be prudent but not panicky.
¹Except perhaps for the elderly. If you’re over 70—and definitely if you’re over 80—coronavirus seems to be very, very dangerous. You really want to take fairly strong steps to keep from getting it.