[Question] Why would panic during this coronavirus pandemic be a bad thing?

It seems like it’s mostly be­ing taken as a given that we want to avoid panic. I’m sure avoid­ing panic is in fact de­sir­able, but I don’t quite un­der­stand why that’s the case, so please in­ter­pret this post and my fol­low up com­ments as So­cratic grilling.

If there was panic, here is what I would ex­pect:

  • Peo­ple would stay home as much as pos­si­ble.

  • This would in­volve some stay­ing home from work, which would hurt the econ­omy.

  • There would be enough pub­lic sup­port to get more gov­ern­ment fund­ing ap­proved.

  • With that money, they’d find a way to con­tinue to provide core in­fras­truc­ture to peo­ple. Eg. by sim­ply pay­ing work­ers more to go to work.

  • There would be a huge de­mand for things like hand san­i­tizer and masks that wouldn’t be able to be met. So the gov­ern­ment would have to step in and reg­u­late those items.

  • Peo­ple would rush to the gro­cery stores to stock up, and stores wouldn’t be able to meet the de­mand. So the gov­ern­ment would have to step in again, per­haps to re­strict pur­chases and dis­tribute food to peo­ple. But that seems like some­thing that is doable. Eg. give ev­ery­one a big bag of rice and beans.

  • With ev­ery­one stay­ing home, it’d re­duce the spread of the virus.

  • Which would buy us time to pro­duce more tests.

  • Even­tu­ally we’d be able test the whole coun­try and figure out who is in­fected and who isn’t.

  • From there we can iso­late and treat those who are in­fected.

  • And once we do that, the risk of trans­mis­sion will be much smaller, and we can start to move back to nor­malcy.

Here is what I sus­pect might be wrong with that story I just told:

  • Maybe it wouldn’t be so easy to provide core in­fras­truc­ture to peo­ple. Maybe I’m un­der­es­ti­mat­ing how many mov­ing parts there are.

  • Maybe the eco­nomic dam­age caused by all of this fear will re­ally set so­ciety back­wards.

  • Maybe the gov­ern­ment doesn’t have the au­thor­ity to do a lot of the stuff I’m en­vi­sion­ing.