Episode 151
Feb 25, 2020

When CDC says “this might be bad”

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... it's bad. This week we're looking at past pandemics and their economic impacts as the U.S. braces for the possibility of a COVID-19 outbreak.

As we post this week’s podcast, COVID-19 has killed more than 2,700 people with more than 80,000 more confirmed cases worldwide. But the World Health Organization isn’t calling it a pandemic — yet.

On Tuesday morning, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told Americans to prepare for an outbreak, saying “this might be bad,” even though President Donald Trump on Twitter declared the disease “very much under control.” The Dow plummeted 1,000 points Monday with the news of new cases in South Korea, Italy and Iran. It lost another 879 points on Tuesday.

That all sounds very scary — and maybe don’t look at your retirement fund today. But part of the reason the World Health Organization isn’t rushing to label this a pandemic is to try and reduce panic.

Today, we’re not only talking about our current not-quite-pandemic, but pandemics writ large: how they evolve, impact economies and challenge social cohesion, and what we can learn from the past. Here to help us out is Olga Jonas, a senior fellow with the Harvard Global Health Institute.

Plus, we’ll get your thoughts on our affordable housing episode and read some responses to the question Kai and Molly asked last week: Where do Smarties like to listen to the show?

When you’re done listening, tell your Echo device to “make me smart” for new daily Alexa explainers — today’s is on bubble wrap — and don’t forget subscribe to our newsletter. If you missed it, here’s last week’s issue.

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The team

Molly Wood Host
Jody Becker Interim Senior Producer
Tony Wagner Digital Producer
Sam Anderson Associate Producer

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