(Mike From NW Queens is a regular reader of this little therapy website, and an occasional commentator. He's been saving it up. The other night, Mike took a health walk and snapped a photo of the moon, and got to thinking, and later he wrote a poem, except he didn't think it was a poem, just the musings of a guy taking a walk. Here it is, unchanged, but arranged in stanzas. Maybe you noticed, this is a New Jersey moon, not a NW Queens moon. They have a different moon in New Jersey. Thanks, Mike. GV.)
Yes, It Is Still There
I took a walk early tonight
Cold? A bit, so what?
As I finished the loop, I noticed
the crystal clear moon in the sky.
Yes, still there.
Still beautiful, our natural satellite
(thank you, Wikipedia)
A site for sore eyes tonight, too.
Sometimes the doldrums set in.
Covid, this or that,
May be more mental than anything.
I know where they are,
but they are dormant, for now.
You heard it, for now.
But the moon caught my eye
and made me grateful,
pushed the cold weather aside,
put the other noise aside for a bit.
Someday, normalcy will be
what normal was.
What’s my point?
Enjoy the moment,
enjoy what is in front of you.
Who you are with.
Your job, a warm house,
a turkey burger on an english muffin!
The little things.......
Not all gifts come wrapped....
being able to choose to take a walk,
headphones, and tonight,
listening to the Rolling Stones’ greatest hits,
tomorrow, free to choose something else.
I am rambling.
Thanks for being my friend.
One day at a time.
--- Mike From NW Queens
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.