There are two primary factors we must know to accurately assess the significance of any respiratory virus.
1. How deadly is it?
2. How contagious is it?
If a virus is both highly contagious and deadly, we have a significant problem.
If it's highly deadly but not very contagious, that means few will get it but those who do have a high risk of dying.
If it's highly contagious but not very deadly, many will get it, but very few will die from it. Certainly unpleasant, but not very life-threatening.
As the numbers come in it is becoming clearer Corona is in the latter group. Though it's still uncertain how contagious it is - it may turn out to be less contagious than originally thought - one thing is becoming clear, it's not that deadly at all. The vast majority of those dying from Corona are elderly (70 and older) with preexisting significant illness. This is statistically, a very small segment of society. This is exactly why the number of deaths are so low. As of this post, we are under 1000 deaths compared to well over 20,000 (next to last bullet point in the blue box of the CDC site) for other flu-like viruses to date. Regular flu is far more deadly. Curiously, this is rarely a part of the conversation in most reporting. When it is the one who raises it is sometimes ridiculed by mainstream media.
So why all the hype around Corona? The media overall is doing very little balanced reporting on this. They play up the scary parts - potentially highly contagious - and are quiet about the reassuring parts - low death rate to a small and feeble segment of the population (btw this isn't a derogatory attack but an observation. I happen to almost be in this category myself). All we hear is how many are dying, we rarely hear any emphasis on who is dying and under what conditions or what proportion to the number infected. Just on the reported infections, we are around the same percentages as the regular flu. The number infected are likely larger - possibly much larger - than reported, making the % of those dying to those infected much lower i.e. meaning COVID-19 is even less deadly than we now know and possibly less than regular flu.
Also, like past virus scares, COVID-19 is new so there is virtually no immunity built up yet. However, as more are exposed it actually helps build our collective immune system against it - the basic strategy behind vaccines. Since the death rate is low and among a small segment, "social distancing" may actually be counterproductive - though I think it's wise to quarantine those with symptoms as with any flu or flu like virus.
I think there are also political reasons for the hype and worth exploring but not the focus of this piece. If you wish to know my opinion, feel free to leave a comment.
There is still some unknowns about this virus, so the media (and we, along with the various governmental bodies) assume the worse. As the actual data comes in, this will increasingly become a declining concern and therefore the solutions to address it must be modified to fit the latest data.
There is also some very good reports coming in on the effectiveness of the malaria drug HCQ (go to the 2:21 mark of this video). The bottom line... there is much more room for optimism than originally thought. I predict this will be a none story by the end of May if not sooner, even with the sensationalist media.
If interested the following articles address some of the above points as well: