Editor-at-Large Jennifer Reingold (@jennrein) is filling in for Geoff Colvin this week.
Yesterday, the CDC recommended that all pregnant women in the U.S. be tested for Zika—an admission that this disease is spreading far more quickly here than originally thought. And belatedly, the American public is starting to grasp the seriousness of the threat.
It’s a stark contrast to the complete overreaction to Ebola, a horrible disease that killed 11,000 people in Western Africa. In the U.S., just four people were diagnosed with the disease, one of whom died. The disease never went viral in the U.S.—but the hysteria did.
I remember walking nervously past a meatball shop in my neighborhood—even though I knew better—after one of the few people to contract the disease had eaten there. But now we are facing a true epidemic—one that doesn’t kill the victim but can damage the brain of a victim’s growing fetus—and the reaction has unfolded almost in slow motion. Just yesterday, the CDC noted that 50 people have been infected in one neighborhood in Miami, and issued a warning to pregnant women to avoid traveling to the area—the first time since the 1940s that the CDC has warned people away from a part of the continental U.S.
This is a very big deal. So why has the reaction, so far, been so muted, even as the disease has hit thousands of babies in Brazil? The human costs of giving birth to a baby with microcephaly are devastating—as are the actual costs to an already overtaxed health care system.
The answer has more to do with our own irrational response to fear than anything else. It explains why people can say, with straight faces, that our society is in the worst trouble it’s ever been in–while others trumpet with equal smugness that things have never been better. Are we more afraid of car accidents or terror attacks? Of buying too high or selling too low? Or could it be that the nonstop election circus has consumed much of our ability to worry?
The truly frightening thing is that Congress has done nothing to address the spread of Zika. The deadlocked organization left for summer recess before acting on President Obama’s request—back in February—for $1.9 billion in funding to combat the disease. I remember shaking my head at the sensationalization of the Ebola scare back in 2014. But now, I think we could use a little less election trivia on the front page and a little more focus on a true threat.
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What We’re Reading Today
Theranos unveils new product
Speaking in front of the scientific community for the first time since the government banned Theranos’ CEO from running a blood lab, Elizabeth Holmes provided little evidence or defense against the troubles the company faces. Instead, Holmes announced a new product, showing off its miniLab. But she didn’t provide any evidence to the contrary that the Theranos’ blood testing capabilities have improved, which the moderator for the American Association of Clinical Chemistry conference pointed out to applause. Fortune
China tells Uber, Didi to hold on
China’s commerce ministry said it has not received an application for approval of a merger between Jean Liu‘s Didi Chuxing and Uber’s China business, creating a $35 billion ride-share company. It didn’t seem as if the two sides would need to file with the ministry, since neither make a profit. While it’s likely to still receive approval, it’s a hiccup in Travis Kalanick‘s escape from China. Fortune
Valeant drug on list of pharmaceuticals too expensive for coverage
The list offered by Tim Wentworth‘s Express Scripts dictates which drugs are excluded for its insurance coverage. Joseph Papa‘s Valeant has received scrutiny for its practice under previous CEO Michael Pearson of buying drugs, then hiking up the prices to an extreme degree. Valeant’s skin cream for actinic keratosis, Zyclara made it to the list of 85 drugs that will no longer be covered in 2017. Yahoo Finance
VW faces ban in South Korea
South Korea’s Ministry of Environment has banned 80 different model variants of Volkswagen vehicles and fined Matthias Müller‘s company $16.1 million due to the emissions scandal. While a small market for VW, South Korea has been very aggressive in responding to the cheating. Only five models will continue to be sold in the country, but VW plans to fight the decision. WSJ
Building a Better Leader
Where you sit in an office…
…could determine how productive you are. Organizations that arrange people next to employees with complementary work styles can increase productivity by 15%. Fast Company
Walking away from the big customer isn’t easy
But if they treat your employees poorly, remember that your customers are short-term, but your employees are a long-term investment. Fortune
Corporate giants are moving back to cities
McDonald’s, General Electric and Chemours are just a few examples of large organizations choosing to stay or return to a city, avoiding the burbs, in order to attract talent. NYT
Buffett issues a challenge to Trump
At a Hillary Clinton campaign rally in Nebraska, Warren Buffett called for Donald Trump to release his tax returns; Buffett added that he’s not afraid to share his. Then he continued, saying Trump’s casino returns while listed on the New York Stock Exchange could have been beaten by a monkey that “had thrown a dart at the stock page.” Reuters
Sanderson Farms embraces antibiotics
While most poultry producers are reducing antibiotics used in their chickens, Sanderson Farms has launched a campaign advertising its continued use of antibiotics. Joe Sanderson Jr.‘s company says that chicken producers, like Tyson and Perdue, that have reduced antibiotics in their food are just tricking consumers to pay more money. Boston Globe
Gawker CEO to file for personal bankruptcy
Nick Denton will file for bankruptcy after losing an appeal to shield him against Hulk Hogan, who won a breach of privacy lawsuit against Gawker Media. Gawker was placed under bankruptcy in June and is now up for sale due to Hogan’s $140 million lawsuit, which was funded by billionaire Peter Thiel. Fortune
Up or Out
Intel has named Paula Tolliver as its new CIO. WSJ
Fortune Reads and Videos
Trump had a big July on Wall Street
Anthony Scaramucci, a top fundraiser for Donald Trump, says that the presidential candidate and groups that support him raised up to $70 million for the cause. That’s an almost 30% jump from what was raised in June, but he still lags Clinton. Fortune
Salesforce buys Quip for $582 million
It’s a challenger to Microsoft’s Office 365 and Google Drive. Fortune
McDonald’s announces that its chicken nuggets…
…are now free of artificial preservatives. It’s a change that the company has worked on for about a year to implement. Fortune
Virgin Galactic returns with a new license…
…for its SpaceShipTwo craft. The previous version, which was testing the vehicle for potential commercial space flights, was destroyed in a crash that killed one and injured the pilot nearly two years ago. Fortune