It is the first of July already. We had a couple months of time flying by on leaden feet, and then suddenly June flew past us and the Fourth of July is staring at us.

At least the sun has come out again. Last week was seven days of overcast skies and smudgy-looking photos when I was out and about annoying people with the camera. On the other hand, those dark and stormy photos seem perfect for 2020.

And the murder hornets seem to have faded into the category of Things That Might Kill You But Won’t — Today. And we ducked an asteroid or two. The Yellowstone supervolcano hasn’t erupted yet.

In the greater scheme, things could be worse.

I was talking to my daughter the other night and we’re both happy that my youngest grandson is able to play some baseball this summer. It’s a shortened season and social-distancing requirements make everything seem strange, but at least he’s having a normal teenage life of sorts.

That’s something that many of us have mentioned, the strange world that our kids and grandchildren are living through. In the middle of the school year, smack dab front and center in their lives, everything came to a screeching halt for a couple months.

Graduations were rethought and moved outdoors. Proms didn’t happen, but I have heard that some schools came up with safe, if belated, alternatives for these rites of passage.

But in March, everything went on hiatus. My two eldest grandsons came home from college, found McJobs and completed the spring semester online. The youngest finished his junior year of high school via the Internet, moped around the house by himself for a couple weeks and then picked up a part-time job at a pizza joint.

None of us signed up for something like the coronavirus, and yet we persist.

I hate to tell you this, but the pandemic isn’t over, and it won’t be for quite some time. A lot of the medical researchers that I tap for information, Michael Osterholm in particular, believe that we may only be 10 percent of the way through this thing.

Flattening the curve was only a goal, not the end of the pandemic. It was only used as a means to make sure there was an ICU bed available if you needed one. Unfortunately, folks understood this as meaning, “Yay! It’s over and we can pick up life where we left off.”

Brethren and, uh, sistren, we’re only at the bottom of the first inning here. We have eight more to go and we may or may not have a seventh inning stretch.

The baseball metaphor only works until we collide with the outfield wall. Catchers wear masks so that they can catch the ball. We need to wear masks to keep from catching the ‘Rona.

Simple concept, ain’t it?

I don’t know. I find myself scratching my head a lot these days because I don’t really “do” politics. Heck, I’m a libertarian if you need to hang a label on me.

How a pandemic became a political “thing” is nonsensical. What makes even less sense is saying that people who wear masks are cowardly.

Dudes, I’ve never been short of courage — or common sense. I wear one so that I don’t catch the coronavirus, bring it home and kill my elderly mother, your elderly mother or their elderly friends. Breathe your germs on me from your unmasked mouths, and you and I might have a problem.

“What’s the big deal with ventilators? I can totally do a couple weeks lying in bed reading magazines.”

Only being on a ventilator isn’t quite like that. It’s what the medical folks do to keep you from death’s door, which you are knocking on if you need to be intubated.

It’s like being on first base at the bottom of the ninth, your team is behind 4 to 2 and your pitcher is the next guy at bat.

A rather large plastic tube is guided down your throat and between your vocal cords. It hurts, and your body fights it. People have to hold you down to do the deed.

This is not theoretical. I was one of the people holding down my late sweetheart the first time he had to be intubated. The ER staff needed somebody to calm him down because he was hurting people as he thrashed around. After the tube had been inserted, he was put on powerful sedatives to relieve the pain for two weeks the first time, and a couple months the second.

And once the medically induced coma was lifted and the tube removed, there was a recovery period in ICU. The isolation, beeping machines and inability to keep track of time, along with withdrawal from the meds, left him in a strange mental state for a while. And when it was all over, he got to learn how to swallow, stand, walk and use the bathroom on his own again.

That’s what being on a ventilator means. You get to do all that if you’re one of the lucky survivors. By the time you’re put on a vent, you’re already well on the way to dying and your odds aren’t on the sunny side.

So, that’s why I make a pest of myself about wearing a mask and scolding folks in this column on occasion. It’s never about politics. It’s about helping to save lives.

[Susan Kerr is a semi-retired freelance writer living in her hometown of New Bethlehem. Previously, she was the managing editor of a regional-interest magazine and a business journal in State College.]

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