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.