Welcome back to The Long Version, a newsletter by Jonathan Myerson Katz.
The new disease was spreading uncontrollably. Every hour, the toll of infections and deaths climbed. As a journalist, I had to rely on experts to tell me what was going on, starting with the CDC.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was founded in 1946, part of the consolidation of New Deal liberal collectivism and the national security apparatus of World War II. It grew out of a wartime program to reduce the number of soldiers dying from malaria. Its founding benefactor was Robert W. Woodruff, president of the Coca-Cola Company—which, along with Georgia’s rampant malaria problem at the time, is how the CDC ended up in the sugarwater magnate’s hometown of Atlanta.
As American wealth and power grew in the post-war years, the CDC grew with it, collecting the best scientists and public health experts in the world. Other nations turned to Atlanta for testing and guidance. Even America’s geopolitical rival…