Global Covid-19 Cases Top 10 Million As HHS Secretary Warns ‘Window is Closing’ to Get Disease Back Under Control in US

Jerri-Lynn here. Am I being alarmist in crossposting this? Perhaps. But I am in good company, as COVID-19 ravages onward. The following post only reports the musings of Trump’s secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar.

The US is number one in COVID-19 cases and deaths, and there’s plenty of blame for this debacle to go around. Trump’s pandemic policy has been a disaster, but no US political leader  really comes off good here. Compare New York City’s response to Hong Kong’s. NYC has 8.5 million residents, and Hong Kong 7.5 million, so they are roughly the same size. I keep hammering this point, I know, and am in danger of not being invited to the best parties as I’m known to drone on and on about this subject. So be it.

Hong Kong never locked down completely and they are now opening up, despite being densely populated and on the doorstep of mainland China, To date, they’ve only endured IIRC 1100 cases or so, and suffered 4 deaths.Those aren’t typos. Read my series of posts to learn how they’ve achieved this success – despite the lack of leadership and the unpopularity of chief executive Carrie Lam.

By Eoin Higgins, staff writer at Common Dreams. Originally published at Common Dreams

Confirmed global cases of the coronavirus hit 10 million Sunday, a grim milestone that came as reported deaths from the disease climbed toward 500,000 and a top U.S. health official warned the country’s chances of getting the outbreak back under control were fast disappearing.

“This is a very, very serious situation and the window is closing for us to take action and get this under control,” Health and Human Services secretary Alex Azar told CNN‘s Jake Tapper Sunday.

Data from Johns Hopkins University, which has tracked the disease for months, showed the total confirmed cases around the world at over 10 million by early Sunday afternoon. Total deaths as of press time had nearly exceeded the 500,000 mark.

The U.S. leads the world in total cases with over 2.5 million and in deaths with 125,709. Brazil is a distant second in both categories with around 1.3 million cases and just over 57,000 deaths.

“We are 4% of the world’s population and we are 25% of the cases and the deaths,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said on an appearance on ABC Sunday.

As CNN reported:

Thirty-six states are reporting a rise in positive coronavirus cases, and only two are reporting a decline in cases compared to last week.

On Friday, the U.S. reported the highest number of new cases in a single day, with at least 40,173 new infections. The previous daily high was reported on Thursday.

Several states, including Texas and Washington state, and localities have paused their reopening plans or reimposed some restrictions in hopes of curbing the spread of the virus.

President Donald Trump’s management of the disease has been blamed by critics for the nation’s high rate of infection and death count. Trump and members of his administration have blamed a host of other factors, including testing, on the high rate.

Former Centers for Disease Control director Dr. Tom Frieden told Fox News Sunday that rationale was simply untrue.

“As a doctor, a scientist, an epidemiologist, I can tell you with 100% certainty that in most states where you’re seeing an increase, it is a real increase,” said Frieden. “It is not more tests, it is more spread of the virus.”

 

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54 comments

    1. Jerri-Lynn Scofield Post author

      We are indeed!

      USA, USA, USA.

      If the stakes weren’t so high, I’d be laughing. As it is….

      Reply
      1. skippy

        Its a jarring visual to look at without all the noise blaring against it … eh.

        Then again some have other priorities, think Sacha Baron Cohen’s high-jinks the other day allude to that problem set. Now add in the increased noise during the election, sorta like the old SNL Bass-O-Matic skit … try to smile and say it tastes great as you sell it …

        Reply
    2. jackiebass

      We have been propagandized that there is a thing called American Superiority. In this case we are superior in a negative way. Being number 1, number1, and number1 is no prize winner. By too many measures of well being the US isn’t even close to being number 1.

      Reply
      1. Joe Well

        “Superior in a negative way.” The American gift for euphemism re-invents the word “inferior.”

        Ours has become one of those “basketcase” countries our elites always sneered at.

        Reply
  1. allan

    Claiming confusion, Texas Medical Center changes how it reports ICU capacity amid COVID-19

    For some definition of confusion.

    …Houston Methodist CEO Dr. Marc Boom stressed that the new data was not reinvented — all the figures and projection models are the same — but was simply reformatted in an effort to make clear that reaching 100 percent of capacity in an ICU is a moving target. TMC hospitals have a combined 373 beds, for instance, that can become ICU beds with a “challenging” but “doable” amount of effort, Boom said, with the reassignment of trained staff and equipment.

    Doing so would take the TMC facilities’ combined 93 percent ICU capacity as of the Sunday report down to 72 percent, the chart shows. …

    When the going gets tough, the tough fudge numbers, move goalposts and reformat .ppt slides.

    Reply
  2. cocomaan

    Hey Jerri-Lynn, do you mind posting a link to your series on Hong Kong vs US response? Pretty fascinating stuff.

    I remember reading how S Korea had a leg up in testing because they’d stockpiled reagents after their experience with the first SARS outbreak.

    Reply
    1. Jerri-Lynn Scofield Post author

      I didn’t plan on a series, so there are overlaps and lacunae, as well as things that have been superseded by subsequent events.

      A Tale of Two Cities: How Hong Kong Has Controlled its Coronavirus Outbreak, While New York City Scrambles;
      Tale of Two Cities Redux: HK to Ease its COVID-19 Restrictions, While NYC Situation Remains Dire;

      Contact Tracing Via Old Shoe-Leather Epidemiology While Spurning the Techno-Fix Fairy: How Hong Kong Quells COVID-19 Without Killing Civil Liberties;
      U.S. COVID-19 Contact Tracing Programs Designed for Failure, Despite Bloomberg Money; Why Can’t the U.S. Copy the Lessons of Hong Kong’s Success?
      No, We Don’t Need to Place Our Faith in Downloading Some Untested, Privacy-Infringing App as the Only Possible COVID-19 Slayer; Why Don’t We Look to Places that Have Successfully Limited Disease Spread and Copy Their Policies?

      Reply
        1. Jerri-Lynn Scofield Post author

          Enjoy! And please share widely. The HK record should be known throughout the US, so that people can ask:why not here?

          Reply
          1. The Historian

            Reading those links was like reading a history lesson – one where the US has failed! But the last two links are blocked, at least for me. Any way to unblock them? Thanks!

            Reply
              1. The Historian

                I’m having problems posting today, so I’m betting it is my computer doing something weird, because all I get when I try those links is “about:blank#blocked” in the url line.

                Reply
                  1. The Historian

                    Thank you for that. My rotten mousepad that can’t tell the difference between a single click and a double click isn’t helping either!

                    Reply
            1. John Zelnicker

              @The Historian
              June 29, 2020 at 11:24 am
              ——-

              There aren’t actually blocked. There’s no URL attached to them, that I can see. I get the same blocked message. I think that might be your browser, not the site.

              Looking further, it appears to be a formatting error in the href coding.

              Reply
              1. Jerri-Lynn Scofield Post author

                I just fixed them and they all now work for me. There was indeed a formatting error in the last two links. My apologies.

                Reply
  3. Winston Smith

    Azar saying this is a macabre joke while he basically fellates (I apologize, it is the correct word) Trump and Pence for their great leadership…

    Reply
  4. The Rev Kev

    Since the subject of masks and Nancy Pelosi has come up, how about we put it into context by looking at American’s reactions to masks the last time something like this came rocking around. Well worth the read as it deals with San Francisco where Nancy Pelosi happens to live-

    https://www.influenzaarchive.org/cities/city-sanfrancisco.html#

    If any are interested, this site has a lot of information of the flu pandemic and has links to 50 American cities on the home page-

    https://www.influenzaarchive.org/

    Reply
  5. Ignacio

    Blaming to the testing is curious because IMO, the more testing, the more reasons to feel good about the response. Looking at US historical data we can compared what has happened in the last 4 weeks if this page is a reliable source.

    Week 1-7th June: 3,200,994 tests of which 146,692 (4,58%) were positive
    Week 8-14th June: 3,285,495 tests of which 146,994 (4,47%) were positive
    Week 15-21st June: 3,589,185 tests of which 211,026 (5,88%) were positive
    Week 22-28th June: 3,996,394 of which 240,790 (6,03%) were positive

    What we see is that the rate of test numbers increase don’t follow the pace of growth in positives and the proportion of positives has been increasing in the last too weeks. This suggests that, if anything, testing should be increasing at a faster pace to reduce the number of positives being missed. The testing effort has lost some steam in comparison to the spread of the epidemic. So, Frieden’s take looks correct and increasing testing is the result of epidemic spreading rather than the opposite as Trump claims. It could well be the case that some relaxation in the first weeks of January regarding testing resulted in undetected spread that now is surfacing when the testing tries to keep pace with it.

    Reply
    1. Amfortas the hippie

      https://www.texastribune.org/2020/06/27/coronavirus-testing-texas/

      not enough tests, not enough on-line/phone capacity for making appointments for tests, tests, themselves, of unknown and worrisome veracity…it’s a disaster.
      stepdad is a paraplegic viet nam vet…there’s a nurse out here every morning to deal with his skin issues(a normal part of his life for 50 years, now).
      so we get on the ground intelligence reports from them…especially the disconnect between the Official Numbers for ours and the surrounding counties, and the reality of it all.
      the one official case in my county(I know the guy), there’s been no contact tracing…he’s a backslapper, too,lol…and runs a lawn service company, going all over, interacting with lots of people.
      boys and i went to HEB in Fredericksburg yesterday, early.
      not many people there, due to church(which is why we went then)…almost everybody wearing masks.
      In Mason, not so much,lol.
      anecdotal reports indicate that it’s definitely here, but we can’t confirm because the testing is so bad.
      I tell the boys, “assume everyone you see has it”.
      but they ain’t leaving the farm without me, any way…for the foreseeable future.

      Reply
      1. Ignacio

        Your comment is very well pointed. The numbers I used as valid for all the US aren’t valid for some states that concentrate most of the spread, and very much looks like this is nearly or already out of control in a few of them, which is amazing given very recent history.

        Reply
    2. Tangled up in Texas

      I have been closely following the numbers from John Hopkins @https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/country/us/ ever since the media kept announcing Texas cases were going down once the state loosened restrictions. I could not believe my lying eyes as the numbers continued to go up.

      The JH numbers also show tests per million of population and on June 10th Texas was in 39th place (within the 50 states). Texas is now in 43rd place for tests per million. How is testing causing the increase in new cases in Texas when Texas is continually falling further and further behind other states in testing? Am I looking at this the wrong way? Or is it just my lying eyes again?

      Reply
  6. Mark

    In comparison. Australia had gone from a 2% positive test rate back in April to a 0.2% test rate now…. These are the sort of numbers you want to be seeing if you want testing to control spread rather than just testing to treat. (That said one state in Australia is seeing a similar resurgence to the US, though about order of magnitude lower.)

    The only way to be positive about the American circumstance is the US might be heading toward ‘herd immunity’ (aka natural selection) faster than many places in the world. While this might sound like a tongue in cheek comment, it isn’t completely. The end game of coronovirus is unclear if a vaccine doesn’t emerge.

    New Zealand has been one of the most lucky and successful countries, it has pretty much eliminated coronovirus. But how many years does a country want to keep its doors shut to the rest of the world, especially one so very reliant on tourism?

    Reply
    1. The Rev Kev

      On the other hand, if your country is reliant on tourism, do you really have an economy? Things are getting interesting in Oz right now. The State of Victoria had 75 new cases yesterday and the numbers are climbing. They are doing a lot of testing but no new lockdown at the moment which is insane. I think that all the cases are in the capital city of Melbourne so they could do it. Meanwhile Scotty from Marketing is demanding that the whole country opens up to each other the day after tomorrow with planes flying everywhere.

      There is a lot of pressure on the Premiers for all the States to open so it will be interesting if they do or not. Business leaders are screaming in my own State that it is costing $17 million a day to keep our borders shut but if they all open up and a second wave of the pandemic takes hold, it will mean that the hundreds of billions of dollars fighting this virus the past six months has been flushed down a toilet. Make no mistake. Whatever the country, business owners will see you and their staff die so that they can keep on making a buck.

      If they decide to open up, then yours truly will be making a few grocery runs in preparation for another lockdown. I note that the past few days, supermarkets in Oz have once more been setting limits on how much groceries that you can buy.

      Reply
      1. skippy

        Here is what is on his mind …

        https://www.sbs.com.au/news/scott-morrison-says-unemployed-australians-are-not-working-because-jobseeker-is-too-generous

        But hay lets not be distracted by the announced Corporate lay offs, retail brick and mortar moving online, cattle prod to get every small business online, payment – accounting systems online apps, etc ….

        OT had a drive up to wife’s uncles place at Kingaham on Sunday to pick up youngest son after a week of helping out on school holidays. Hunting outfit with various meat supply to Oz zoo and others selling exotic meats. Old boys are looking out for the right sorts, but poaching is on the rise, not your rustler sort [tagging makes that almost impossible these days in volume] but single hits.

        That said he lost a years worth of customers, yet all rolled over their deposits till the coast is clear. Not much sweat off his back as hes got a set up that Amfortas the hippie would pine for, never leaves the mountain and restock is a 3 month wander for his wife.

        Would say more but have to pop off to work.

        Reply
    2. polecat

      Imagine if you will, the beginnings of subspecies divergence in homo sapiens, with the relentless waves of CV (not to discount even worse maladies out there ready to make a break, wrecking further havoc on societies..) causing humanity to coalesce into ever tighter groups of insular ‘tribes’*.. who discard global, or even regional commerce/social intercourse .. for the sake of local community survival.
      Then there are ..to add partial fuel to the fires of Chaos.. the Energy, Climate, Chemical, Bio-degradation horsemen to consider ….

      * not necessarily ‘racial’ in composition ..

      Reply
    3. Medbh

      “The only way to be positive about the American circumstance is the US might be heading toward ‘herd immunity’ (aka natural selection) faster than many places in the world. While this might sound like a tongue in cheek comment, it isn’t completely. The end game of coronovirus is unclear if a vaccine doesn’t emerge.”

      That’s the only way I can make sense of Trump’s response to coronavirus. I think they intended to go for herd immunity all along, but are unwilling to explicitly say it because they would have to acknowledge they are intentionally sacrificing the old and vulnerable.

      Watch what they do, not what they say…they’ve had no intention of slowing down or stopping the spread. Once it’s at catastrophic levels, they’ll claim it’s too out of control to stop, and we have “no choice” but to try for herd immunity.

      I think that’s an extremely reckless and unethical plan (and given how quickly it appears immunity fades, no guarantee it’ll even work), but their behavior doesn’t make any sense otherwise.

      Reply
      1. Massinissa

        “That’s the only way I can make sense of Trump’s response to coronavirus. I think they intended to go for herd immunity all along, but are unwilling to explicitly say it because they would have to acknowledge they are intentionally sacrificing the old and vulnerable.”

        That may be the case, but I wonder if Trump realizes hes going to be the one holding the bag for the Elites. If they’re going for a herd immunity strategy, there’s little chance Trump can win the election. Well, legitimately at least. He could be the elites fall man for this and not realize it.

        Reply
      2. cnchal

        > That’s the only way I can make sense of Trump’s response to coronavirus.

        Coronavirus was always going to kill his ratings no matter if a perfect strategy had worked or what we have now, after the fact reactions without a strategy, only tactics like trying to ignore it. It isn’t working.

        How many moar would die to reach herd immunity, how long would it take to get there and once achieved by some blarney officious metric (a la the CDC missive with the claim coronavirus is ten times !!!! more prevalent than thought) and that immunity would last how long? In other words, we don’t know our ass from a hole in the ground when it comes to this thing.

        The name of the game now is, the technofairy and stawk market are gonna rescue the economy.

        Jawb one is don’t get it.

        Reply
      3. fajensen

        I think that’s an extremely reckless and unethical plan (and given how quickly it appears immunity fades, no guarantee it’ll even work), but their behavior doesn’t make any sense otherwise.

        Same in Sweden!

        The way testing is applied (testing only when they are likely to find anything, strictly applied) “filters” the infection rates so that it will look like the epidemic is easing off (because the pool of people most likely to get it bad enough to be allowed a test is being “exhausted”), while in reality it is spreading at the normal rate, probably the teenagers are getting it.

        Now, why would they do that except for: “Heard Immunity”!

        It will probably be a surprise to everyone that many of the healthy immune will have 1/4 of a lung missing or something. “The authorities” here are still running on the “It Is Only A Bad Flu”-world model.

        Oh, and those “risk groups”, officially to be protected, are being starved back to work: https://www.aftonbladet.se/nyheter/a/GGVEpm/riskgrupper-far-pengar-forst-i-september

        Grotesque Bureaucratic incompetence or … the deliberate cleansing of the economically unviable!?

        In Denmark, they can apply for unemployment insurance or social security, and none of the many eligibility rules will be applied for the whole duration of the pandemic, so they get “survival money”, now(!), no questions asked! This took the Danes one week to implement!!

        Reply
    4. Massinissa

      I have to agree with Rev Kev. In addition to what Rev Kev said, also remember that tourism includes large amounts of travel, often by plane. All this travel uses up fossil fuels and is bad for the environment. I almost hate to say this, but maybe a world without (long distance) tourism would be a better world? If we want a truly sustainable world, maybe long distance global tourism as it is now isn’t in the cards. Countries that rely on tourism may have to pivot to something else.

      Reply
      1. periol

        “maybe a world without (long distance) tourism would be a better world?”

        No maybes about it. Now that we know the damage, definitely.

        Reply
      2. Tom Bradford

        Many New Zealanders are questioning our “reliance on tourism.” It brings in a lot of foreign currency but employment not so much as many workers in the industry are of the shoe-string back-packer variety working to pay for their holidays here.

        And without the foreign tourists overrunning all the scenic spots New Zealanders are themselves visiting them where they would previously have avoided them.

        Foreign tourism is rather like prostitution – you’re not producing anything but merely taking advantage of , in fact abusing, a god-given benefit and diminishing it. Amazing and fascinating as they are I have no interest in visiting the Pyramids as I understand it’s a dreadful experience because of the crowds of tourists and the commercialisation. Even pre-pandemic there was a growing swell of objection here to the damage being done to the very environment that attracted the tourists – the crowds, the litter, the ever-expanding fields of tarmac for parking on, the “freedom campers” crapping in the woods, and there’s a mood here now to take advantage of the hiatus to stop New Zealand losing what she has by selling it in the short term.

        Reply
      3. Phil in KC

        Having spent 25 years working in hotels, I can tell you that most of the jobs in tourism are not the sort of jobs from which blooms prosperity for either the worker or the community. These are not $30.00/hour manufacturing jobs. These are not union jobs. These are usually minimum wage plus tips jobs, or just slightly above minimum wage, enough to sustain a body, but hard to build savings sufficient to buy a house, furnish it comfortably, drive a decent car, build some savings, take vacays. . . in short, the quintessential McJob, with some exceptions here and there for upper management and the ownership class. I was able to get by better than many of my peers because of my vaunted thrift (cheapness) and a timely inheritance. And some skill and some luck. If you want a precarious economy, build it on tourism. Ask the guys and gals who work in Vegas who DON’T belong to a union.

        Reply
    5. Jeotsu

      There is a very strong advertising push from the government to support domestic (NZ) tourism. Depending which math you look at, if all the Kiwis who normally took overseas holidays kept it local, the decline in total tourist numbers/$ would only be ~20%. Yes, ouchie, but not catastrophe.

      Based on numbers booking spaces on the ‘great walks’ (which are normally flooded without overseas travellers), at least in the short to medium term there should be plenty of local demand.

      The impact will be very bad for the high-end lodges. There was a whole, separate, ecosystem for high net worth travellers where the guests would fly into Auckland and then helicopter from exclusive spot to spot. No locals are in for $1-5K/night lodges.

      And there is a great deal of local reflection on what the economy should look like in the future. Guest workers are another issues — the people from the pacific islands who come to work seasonal agriculture jobs. Very important for both parties, as that remitted income is a big deal on Vanawatu, etc.

      I expect the NZ drawbridge to be firmly up for at least 6-12 more months (unless National wins in September). If the US/UK continue to be flaming disasters, it might prompt them to nail that drawbridge in the ‘up’ position for the foreseeable future.

      Reply
  7. cnchal

    > . . . But how many years does a country want to keep its doors shut to the rest of the world, especially one so very reliant on tourism?

    As long as it takes. Jawb one is don’t get it.

    Reply
    1. Wukchumni

      Our town is hopping, the AirBnB garage mahals full, and the trailhead parking lots overflowing in the main part of Sequoia NP, and i’ve heard of one full time NPS employee that tested positive and self quarantined and is doing ok, but that’s it.

      I suppose if anything, it was getting increasingly difficult for short term vacation rental owners/managers to find people to clean them, coming from as far away as 50 miles. I’d imagine locals would be more conducive to making sure everything is spotless, wait who am I kidding, we all live in the forest for the trees and its a little messy by nature.

      A lot for the sake of money certainly after a prolonged drought of Dollars, but also a yearning for lives we led not so long ago, a return to the norm. Things could get messy.

      …stay tuned

      Reply
  8. DJG

    Meanwhile, in Italy, sixteen regions report no new cases, and the number of fatalities is in the single digits:

    https://www.lastampa.it/cronaca/2020/06/29/news/coronavirus-il-bollettino-della-protezione-cibile-126-nuovi-casi-e-6-morti-nessuna-vittima-in-16-regioni-1.39024221

    I watched closely what the Italians were willing to put themselves through. But that sense of shared purpose, of basic solidarity, of respect for the medical profession seems no longer to exist in the U S of A.

    It isn’t so much a question of politicization of the pandemic in the U S of A. Certainly, Salvini and the troglodytes repeated the same sort of canards. In general, though, Italians could see what they had to do and have done it. Americans no longer see actions as having consequences.

    Reply
  9. Arizona Slim

    Permit me to add a (somewhat) hopeful note. Over the weekend, I had three errands to run around town. Two retail stores and one visit to my post office box.

    At all three venues, people were masked. And, this being Tucson, the colorful array of mask fashions was impressive. Here’s our city’s official policy:

    https://www.tucsonaz.gov/covid-19/city-face-covering-requirement-faq

    Yes, it’s hot here, but I didn’t hear a word of complaint about masking up.

    Reply
    1. Ignacio

      Yes this is good but next step should be try to figure out the real extent of Covid-19 spread to see if HC and ICU beds in AZ are enough for the incoming wave of hospitalizations.

      Reply
  10. K teh

    Breathing poison in a ghetto to comply with extortion for the sake of the entitled is nonsense. You can’t work that way.

    Set yourself up to visit Rome as infrequently as possible.

    This is my last stop in this cycle and I doubt there will be another at most of your locations.

    Reply
  11. ProNewerDeal

    Where are the N95 masks? 3 months after the March arrival of the pandemic, how is there still a shortage? Do N95 masks have some bottleneck rare component in its bill of materials that is out of stock globally, as if it were Lithium for batteries? If not, I don’t see how we do not have mass availability of N95s by now.

    Why can’t enough be made in Murica, or sourced from say China, so that the USPO deliveryperson could drop of a 5-pk at every residential mailing address? Hell in the worst case scenario this action would be a small Keynesian fiscal stimulus during the current recession, even it proved to help negligibly for public health.

    Reply
    1. sam

      +100. Why isn’t this question asked more? Why does everyone just accept this? Why are we fighting over the pros and cons of low protection masks rather than demanding the real thing, which would be a much easier sell to the mask skeptics (protect yourself and the hell with everybody else – the American neoliberal way!)

      My guess re the continued shortage: some combination of Trump administration incompetence and lack of US manufacturing capabilities now that everything has been offshored except assembly of pick ups. My guess why this question is not discussed: the elites who brought us offshoring and have been collecting the profits don’t want us to talk about it.

      Reply
    2. Phil in KC

      Wait! Free markets! Efficiency! The market must have decided that the demand for masks is insufficient to warrant increased production. This would explain why Purell, cloth wipes, and yeast are also in short supply.

      Reply
    3. mtnwoman

      That’s what I’ve been asking. And isopropyl alcohol still not on shelves.

      It’s really pointing to such extreme dysfunction in our society that “the richest, greatest, blah, blah ” can not get an N95 mask to every citizen. WHAT is the deal?

      Reply
  12. ProNewerDeal

    Has there any expert’s guesstimates or studies showing what a mandatory scan-your-forehead-digital-temperature-check does for reducing the risk of a COVID-infected person entering a indoor establishment? Are these useful or are they US Airport TSA-style “Security Theater”

    Apparently East Asian nations are still doing such checks despite low sub-0.05% Estimated Currently Infected stats on https://covid19-projections.com/ . This leads me to believe these temperature checks are USEFUL & eliminate 50%+ of infected persons, but that is just my own WAGuesstimate.

    Reply

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