John Robben of Connecticut has fourteen grandchildren and loves them all the same. One happens to play in the National Hockey League, so it's easy to keep tabs on him.
John has been telling me about Cam Atkinson since the young man was scoring 68 goals in three seasons at Boston College. Now John follows him on his swings around the league, even when Columbus is playing in a distant time zone like Vancouver.
John sent this mass e-mail Saturday morning:
I watched the first period last night against Vancouver, then stuck around for the beginning of the second period. When Vancouver struck twice for a 2-0 lead I turned the TV off and went to bed. I knew their record was better -- a lot better! -- than the Blue Jackets, and it was already after 11 PM and I couldn't keep my eyes open any longer.
First thing GM said to me this morning was, "The final score last night was 6-2."
"Oh," I replied. "Too bad. At least Columbus got two goals."
"Columbus won 6-2, not lost. And Cam got the winning goal!"
Well done, Cam!
First of all, GM is Grandmother, Margie, whom John spotted at a church dance in the Bronx, oh, a few years back and predicted, on sight, that they would be married.
Before that could happen, John had aircraft carrier duty off the Korean coast. His pen pal at the time, writer named Hemingway, sent him a letter that said, "Remember kid, if it's rough at sea, it's rough all over." Then John got home and married Margie.
John, a fine writer and long-time e-mail pal (we have never met), never misses a game on television when Columbus is playing in the east. The young man is small by modern NHL standards – 5-foot-8, 174 pounds – but clearly has a feel for the net, with 53 goals and 49 assists in 208 NHL games.
On Saturday evening, Cam tipped in a goal on a power-play late in the second period to put his team ahead. Next game is Tuesday at home. John is going to catch all of that one.
* * *
Here's the link to the screen above.
Cam's career statistics.
The game result from Saturday night.
Measuring Covid Deaths, by David Leonhardt. July 17, 2023. NYT online.
The United States has reached a milestone in the long struggle against Covid: The total number of Americans dying each day — from any cause — is no longer historically abnormal….
After three horrific years, in which Covid has killed more than one million Americans and transformed parts of daily life, the virus has turned into an ordinary illness.
The progress stems mostly from three factors:
First, about three-quarters of U.S. adults have received at least one vaccine shot.
Second, more than three-quarters of Americans have been infected with Covid, providing natural immunity from future symptoms. (About 97 percent of adults fall into at least one of those first two categories.)
Third, post-infection treatments like Paxlovid, which can reduce the severity of symptoms, became widely available last year.
“Nearly every death is preventable,” Dr. Ashish Jha, who was until recently President Biden’s top Covid adviser, told me. “We are at a point where almost everybody who’s up to date on their vaccines and gets treated if they have Covid, they rarely end up in the hospital, they almost never die.”
That is also true for most high-risk people, Jha pointed out, including older adults — like his parents, who are in their 80s — and people whose immune systems are compromised. “Even for most — not all but most —immuno-compromised people, vaccines are actually still quite effective at preventing against serious illness,” he said. “There has been a lot of bad information out there that somehow if you’re immuno-compromised that vaccines don’t work.”
That excess deaths have fallen close to zero helps make this point: If Covid were still a dire threat to large numbers of people, that would show up in the data.
One point of confusion, I think, has been the way that many Americans — including we in the media — have talked about the immuno-compromised. They are a more diverse group than casual discussion often imagines.
Most immuno-compromised people are at little additional risk from Covid — even people with serious conditions, such as multiple sclerosis or a history of many cancers. A much smaller group, such as people who have received kidney transplants or are undergoing active chemotherapy, face higher risks.
Covid’s toll, to be clear, has not fallen to zero. The C.D.C.’s main Covid webpage estimates that about 80 people per day have been dying from the virus in recent weeks, which is equal to about 1 percent of overall daily deaths.
The official number is probably an exaggeration because it includes some people who had virus when they died even though it was not the underlying cause of death. Other C.D.C. data suggests that almost one-third of official recent Covid deaths have fallen into this category. A study published in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases came to similar conclusions.
Dr. Shira Doron, the chief infection control officer at Tufts Medicine in Massachusetts, told me that “age is clearly the most substantial risk factor.” Covid’s victims are both older and disproportionately unvaccinated. Given the politics of vaccination, the recent victims are also disproportionately
Republican and white.
Each of these deaths is a tragedy. The deaths that were preventable — because somebody had not received available vaccines and treatments — seem particularly tragic. (Here’s a Times guide to help you think about when to get your next booster shot.)
From the great Maureen Dowd:
As I write this, I’m in a deserted newsroom in The Times’s D.C. office. After working at home for two years during Covid, I was elated to get back, so I could wander around and pick up the latest scoop.
But in the last year, there has been only a smattering of people whenever I’m here, with row upon row of empty desks. Sometimes a larger group gets lured in for a meeting with a platter of bagels."
--- Dowd writes about the lost world of journalists clustered in newsrooms at all hours, smoking, drinking, gossipping, making phone calls, typing, editing.
"Putting out the paper," we called it.
Much more than nostalgia.