Doug Logan, who is 72, recently slogged 22 kilometers with 22 kilograms in his backpack on a group run by military veterans. That number stood for the 22 vets said to commit suicide every day.
The 110 men and women ran in silk skivvies, some did, to attract attention, not raise money. Logan wore red.
Logan was the only runner who served in Vietnam -- 13 months as a forward observer with the 101st Airborne in 1966-67, earning two stars. Vets tend not to tell stories but I have heard a few allusions to the horrors of that mission, plus the challenges of returning to civilian life.
Logan now runs a program for the homeless – many of them veterans -- near his long-time residence of Sarasota, Fla.
I got to know him when he was the first commissioner of Major League Soccer in 1996, a bilingual sports executive (from his family roots in Cuba) who gloried in Valderrama and Etcheverry and Campos of the first years.
Journalists are not supposed to be friendly with the people they cover – ask him about my snide remarks about low attendance and wretched teams in the early years in New Jersey -- but after Logan left that job we stayed in touch. So, yes, he is a friend.
A year ago a city official in Sarasota proposed a job that Logan could never have imagined – come up with housing and programs for the homeless. After careers in entertainment and sports and other businesses, he was commuting to be an adjunct professor at New York University and loving a few days a week in the city, but the offer from Sarasota touched a nerve.
“The best speech ever given is contained in two chapters of Matthew: the Sermon on the Mount. In those principles I hear the call to spend a part of your life doing good,” Logan told me.
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” – Matthew 5-7.
Some residents of Sarasota fretted about Logan’s hiring, asking, are there not local people with proper degrees in social work? Others have questioned Logan’s departure from the national track and field federation but as a journalist I watched him try to abolish all drug usage, a sure way to become unpopular in that sport.
As for his service in Major League Soccer, I could make the lame joke that anybody who took in itinerants like the ill-fated Nicola Caricola of own-goal MetroStar fame was practicing social work even then. But this is serious stuff.
Logan is living up to the best lesson I remember from college ROTC: “Get the troops out of the hot sun.” That’s not in the Sermon on the Mount, but could be.
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.