“Bottom line, it’s going to get worse,” Anthony Fauci, the long-standing director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, testified.How much worse is the pressing question for a nervous American public and its fractious leadership. What happens in the weeks to come is likely to depend on how aggressively the United States acts to contain or slow the novel coronavirus, even at the cost of enormous social and economic disruptions. But what happens also will depend on the virus itself, a new pathogen that is still revealing its true nature.Experts have produced forecasts of likely numbers of infections and serious illnesses as well as death tolls, on the basis of what is known about the novel coronavirus and how past epidemics have played out. They suggest that the United States — which has surpassed 1,000 confirmed novel-coronavirus infections and 30 deaths — must prepare for a potentially historic pandemic.Most coronavirus patients have mild or moderate illnesses and recover without need for hospitalization. The people at elevated risk of serious illness are “older adults,” in the phrasing of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and anyone with an underlying chronic illness such as heart disease, lung disease or

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