Rightly or wrongly, coronavirus has come to dominate the news and has devastated the stock market, at least temporarily. Government at all levels is afraid of being accused of doing too little, and therefore is, if anything, contributing to an atmosphere of panic.
At this point, we don’t know how serious the coronavirus outbreak in the U.S. will ultimately be. So far, the latest total I have seen is 38 deaths in the U.S. No doubt that total will increase significantly, but will it rise to the level of the estimated 80,000 flu deaths that the U.S. experienced just two years ago, the winter of 2017-18? I created this chart, which shows coronavirus fatalities to date compared with the 2017-18 total. There is a line there for coronavirus, but you can’t see it yet.
My plan is to continue to update the chart as coronavirus infections continue. I think it will be a valuable tool to put coronavirus in perspective. Perhaps, by this time next year, the coronavirus bar will be several multiples of the 2017-18 bar. Perhaps not.