Obviously, this doesn't diminish the personally tragic impact on the families of those who have died from Swine Flu (54 in New York City through September 4 2009, 593 nationally). And we should all do what we can to diminish our exposure to the virus and those infected, but it seems that Swine Flu is ultimately no more lethal than any other Flu variant that, on average, kill 36,000 people a year in the U.S. alone.
If you take only one fact away from this analysis, take this: The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) believes that hospitalization rates and mortality rates for A(H1N1) are similar to or lower than they are for more traditional influenza strains. And if you take two facts away, consider this as well: Influenza data are incomplete at best and rarely cross-comparable, so any assertions of the likelihood of mass deaths are little more than scaremongering bereft of any real analysis or, more important, any actual evidence.
Lesson: If you're sick, stay home. If you have to go out, cover your mouth when coughing, wash your hands frequently to avoid passing on the virus to others, clean any surfaces you may shed virus to with a disinfectant spray, etc. Follow your MD's advice on fluids consumption. If you're not sick, avoid people who are until they recover, wash your hands frequently to avoid picking up the virus, avoid touching your mouth and face until you've washed your hands. This is the same protocol you should follow on a regular basis during Flu season generally; basically, just common sense.