What happened

AeroVironment (NASDAQ:AVAV)Axon Enterprise (NASDAQ:AXON), and II-VI (NASDAQ:IIVI).

For the longest time, we here at The Motley Fool have been recommending that investors buy into these three small, tech-focused industrial stocks for long-term profits. Unfortunately, the stock market had other plans, and today, shares of small drones manufacturer AeroVironment are down 9.4%, the stock of stun-gun specialist Axon is down 10.2%, and lasers stock II-VI is off 12.4% -- all as of about 1:50 p.m. EDT.

Big red arrow over a stock chart

Image source: Getty Images.

So what

Johns Hopkins University now reports there are more than 211,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in 157 countries worldwide, and more than 8,700 deaths.  

Other data providers have other statistics. The World Health Organization, for example, says there are "only" 193,000 or so cases and fewer than 8,000 casualties -- but its data shows 164 countries infected.  

Whichever numbers you believe, one thing is clear: This is a big problem that will have a big effect on the economy, both in America and for the world at large. And it's going to take herculean efforts to prevent this health crisis from morphing into a global recession.

Now what

Will governments be equal to the task? They're certainly trying.

In Washington, the White House and Congress are trying to put together a $1 trillion bailout program including everything from loans to industry, to cash payouts for workers kept home by the coronavirus. And other governments are looking at similar measures. If simply throwing money at the problem will make it go away, we should be covered.  

Judging from the stock market's reaction to the news, $1 trillion may still not be enough. This raises fears that Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin's prediction that the spread of the novel coronavirus could lead to 20% unemployment in the U.S. may prove correct.  

In times like these, when fear is in the air, it's easy to forget Warren Buffett's advice to be greedy when others are fearful (and vice versa), probably because we're fearful ourselves. Then again, recognizing that last fact may be the clearest evidence of all that the time has come to buy.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.