The Gemara (Bava Kama 60:) states that when there is an epidemic, one should go into hiding. The Ben Ish Chai (Ben Yehoyada) adds that when there is a virus spreading around, it is better to run away. Leaving town is not applicable right now, but the idea is very relevant to us. Why does he recommend leaving town? Because when there is an epidemic going around, the fear and panic that ensues, harms the person, and actually brings him to be ill. Because a person who fears the disease, becomes vulnerable to the disease.
He explains this with the following mashal:
Once, there was an epidemic in a large town. Before the virus spread, a man met with the angel that was appointed over this plague and he asked him, “How many people are you planning to kill?”
“Five thousand,” He said. However, in the end, fifteen thousand people died.
The man returned to the angel and said, “You told me that you were taking only five thousand. Why did you lie?”
He replied, “I didn’t lie. I only took five thousand. The rest harmed themselves because of their fear.”
The Ben Yehoyada concludes, “Therefore, it is best to run far away, so you won’t hear and you won’t see the disease that’s spreading among people, because if you become afraid, you are at risk of being harmed.”
The first thing to know is not to panic! Of course we need to do whatever is necessary, to protect ourselves from harm. Protecting ourselves is a mitzvah in the Torah, and we must do so because we follow the Torah! But why the fear? You are with Hashem, why are you afraid? R’ Elimelech Biderman, Shlita