National / International News
The death Wednesday of the Dallas Ebola patient Thomas Eric Duncan underscores the high stakes around controlling the spread of the disease. To that point, the federal government has announced it would soon screen air travelers coming from West Africa to see if they have temperatures.
Separately, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more than 1,000 people working around the world to contain Ebola. On-the-ground work involves risk and problem solving, where staff must do everything from collecting blood samples, to tracking the sick, to hiring workers to pick up the dead.
It’s a difficult job, says Dr. Bridgette Gleason, who turned 30 this week. Gleason says she’s seen tragedy every day since Sept. 13, the day she arrived in Sierra Leone.
“Being surrounded by death, it’s obviously overwhelming if you really focus on that,” she says. “To really make a difference you have to focus on what you can do.”
That attitude gives a sense of the men and women who parachute into these communicable disease hot spots. Staffers are expert trouble-shooters. But with the Ebola spreading in West Africa, CDC folks like Peter Kilmarx – who is leading the operation in Sierra Leone — must do something outside the norm: think about budgets.
“We are not fully meeting the demand and it’s stressful. It’s a very challenging situation,” he says.
For the past 20 years, CDC field staff has depended on the non-profit CDC Foundation for money when it would otherwise take too long going through bureaucratic channels at the agency.
The outbreak has gotten so big so fast, so that’s changed.
“There is simply not enough money at this time to meet the needs that CDC is sending our way,” says the Foundation's executive director, Charlie Stokes.
Stokes understands putting a crimp in this financial lifeline is actually a matter of life and death. That’s why the foundation launched an emergency fund back in August to address Ebola.
“We initially thought $30 million would be enough," he says. "What we are seeing in terms of needs in the field tells me it’s going to be considerably more than that.”
To put that figure in perspective, that’s what the foundation spends on all of its programs in a year. Stokes estimates Ebola needs $50 million alone.
If the foundation falls short, Stokes knows he’ll have to level with the CDC docs.
“We are either going to have the money and send it, or we are going to have to say, 'you are going to have to prioritize,'” he says.
Stokes admits it’s easy to feel overmatched by this epidemic, but – much like Gleason in Sierra Leone –he says he’s going to focus on what he can do.
In 2013, Sierra Leone and Liberia ranked second and sixth among countries with the highest GDP growth in the world. But that growth has stopped because of the deadly Ebola virus.
As relatives grieve, public health officials are setting in place a plan to safely care for the remains of Ebola patient Thomas Eric Duncan. Cremation or burial are both acceptable, the CDC says.
The economy is growing at 4 percent per year. Unemployment is down. But that's not always how the economy feels, day to day.
Lisa Goldenberg is the president of Delaware Steel Company of Pennsylvania, where she has a front-row seat to how the economic outlook is making life easier — or harder — for businesses. In a July interview, Goldenberg lamented that things weren't going as well as she had hoped. She has that same grinding sense of progress today.
"We should have had a stronger September. We're doing okay, but okay isn't good enough. It's a struggle," Goldenberg says.
The bright spots: construction, energy and cars.
"For the steel business, construction is a good thing," Goldenberg says. "People go out, they need washers and dryers made out of steel."
But are things better than July? No, she says. People have a little more money to spend, but not enough to pay off debts from the past few years. And definitely not enough savings to buy a house.
"It's painful to live through slow, even, deliberate growth," Goldenberg says. But even so, "it's the best way, in my opinion, to build a solid economy."
The story of Excalibur, whose Spanish owner has Ebola, raises many questions. Can dogs catch the virus? How would we know if they did? Could they infect humans? We asked a specialist for answers.
Passengers arriving from some countries in West Africa will have their temperatures taken upon arrival. They will also be asked to keep
Tipping can be a contentious issue in the U.S., especially in light of the debate over raising the minimum wage. Whether tipped employees should even be paid minimum wage is still a question up for debate in most states.
With the hardships of low-wage workers on their mind, consumers might be compelled to increase the percentage of their gratuity in instances like dining in a restaurant. Concerns over low wages might be the reason why, percentage-wise, we tip more compared to past decades.
Or is it some other economic reason tied to the rise or fall of food prices? Does the average diner even pay attention to those factors?
Looking at historical data on the U.S., there does seem to be a general rise in how big of a percentage people tip, says Mike Lynn, a marketing professor and expert in tipping behavior at Cornell University School of Hotel Administration.
“If you look at etiquette books, going back pretty far, etiquette books were recommending 15 percent tips,” Lynn says, “But there was a survey by Leo Crespi in Public Opinion Quarterly in 1947, and what was clear was that people were tipping 10 percent on average in restaurants.”
Other etiquette books reinforced the 10 percent norm for tipping as well.
An excerpt from \"The itching palm; a study of the habit of tipping in America,\" an anti-tipping etiquette book published in 1916.William R. Scott/The Penn publishing company of Philadelphia via California Digital Library
The rise of tipping to a more 15 percent standard may have more to do with how the tipper wants to be perceived, Lynn says.
“My theory is that some people tip as a positional good. To get ahead of others,” Lynn says, “They want better service than other people get. They want the server to look up to them and respect them more. They tip to get out ahead of others, and once some people do that, it puts pressure on everybody else.”
Lynn cautions that his theory is based more on his own observations rather than hard evidence on tipping, which is difficult to come by, but he does say there is evidence that tipping is more common in countries that are more status-oriented.
Lynn also says we shouldn’t totally discount people who say they do tip to rectify what they see as unfair wage practices for servers, in which they are paid below the state minimum wage. He also points out that in states like California, where tipped employees do make at least the state minimum wage, tipping rates aren’t significantly lower than in states with different policies.