Coronavirus Live Updates: U.S. Outbreak Spiraling Out of Control

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Credit…Eve Edelheit for The New York Times

Key Data of the Day

If June was the month the pandemic spiraled out of control in the U.S., July may show how bad it can get.

On June 1, Florida officials announced 667 new coronavirus cases. On July 1, they added more than 6,500. Today they reported over 10,100, a record.

In Texas, there were 1,100 new cases at the start of last month. On Wednesday, more than 8,100. In Georgia, it went from 700 to 2,300. And in California, where some newly reopened businesses were again being shut down, new cases went from about 2,500 to 7,600.

If June was the month when the coronavirus pandemic spiraled from America’s grasp, July seemed destined to be month when the country will learn just how bad it will get.

The United States reported nearly 50,000 new coronavirus cases on Wednesday, the fifth single-day case record in eight days, as the nation staggers toward a holiday weekend burdened by a pandemic that is only growing worse.

Ohio, Kansas and Louisiana, all of which looked stable not long ago, posted some of their highest single-day totals in weeks. North Carolina, Tennessee and Texas set single-day case records on Wednesday.

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Newsom Halts Reopening Across California

Gov. Gavin Newsom of California announced that he was closing down bars and indoor dining in 19 counties, pulling back reopening for more than 70 percent of the population.

We have specifically targeted our efforts to close indoor operations. And I want to reinforce this — indoor operations in restaurants, wineries and tasting rooms, movie theaters family entertainment, broadly defined by guidelines that we have previously put out, zoos, museums and card rooms in this state. This doesn’t mean restaurants shut down. It means that we’re trying to take activities — as many activities as we can, these mixed activities, these concentrated activities, and move them outdoors, which is a way of mitigating the spread of this virus. We’re just moving forward to close the operation of all of those bars in all of the 19 counties that I had just put forth. The state of California has not mandated the closure of beaches this weekend. But we are modifying our parking facility operations, and closing them to traffic throughout the Southern California region as well as parts of Monterey County, Santa Cruz, in through the Bay Area and up along the North Coast, all the way up to Sonoma County.

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Gov. Gavin Newsom of California announced that he was closing down bars and indoor dining in 19 counties, pulling back reopening for more than 70 percent of the population.CreditCredit…Bryan Denton for The New York Times

Though single-day snapshots are an imperfect measure of the pandemic, the broader picture is also exceedingly bleak. Case numbers were trending upward in 38 states as of Wednesday. The problem spots in the country’s South and West were spreading north and east, and hospitalizations surged in some states.

In Kansas, the state health secretary blamed lax social distancing for his state’s spike and predicted that increases were likely to continue. In Pennsylvania, Gov. Tom Wolf signed an expanded order to wear masks. And in Michigan, where cases have started inching upward again and where more than 100 infections were traced to a single bar, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer ordered bars to cease indoor service again in much of the state.

“If we want to be in a strong position to reopen schools for in-person classroom instruction this fall,” Ms. Whitmer said in a statement, “then we need to take aggressive action right now to ensure we don’t wipe out all the progress we have made.”

In Arizona, which Mr. Trump visited in May and praised for its reopening plans, Gov. Doug Ducey decided this week to close the state’s water parks and to order bars, gyms and movie theaters to close for 30 days. On Wednesday, Vice President Mike Pence visited Arizona to discuss the crisis.

Mr. Pence told Mr. Ducey that the federal government would help the state with a request for 500 additional public health personnel by mobilizing doctors, nurses and technical personnel.

In Nebraska, state leaders suggested that holiday cookout hosts keep guest lists to make contact tracing easier if there were an outbreak. The Oregon Health Authority warned residents that “the safest choice this holiday is to celebrate at home.”

Elsewhere, the pleas were similar: Skip the party. Stay home. Don’t make a bad situation worse.

The U.S. economy added nearly 5 million jobs in June.

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Credit…Ilana Panich-Linsman for The New York Times

Employers added 4.8 million jobs last month, the Labor Department said Thursday, the second month in a row that hiring picked up following a calamitous loss of more than 20 million jobs in April.

The unemployment rate fell to 11.1 percent in June from 13.3 percent the month earlier. The data, which was stronger than expected, encouraged investors and extended this week’s rally for a fourth day. The S&P 500 rose more than 1 percent in early trading, putting it on track to climb more than 4 percent this week.

Major European indexes were 1 to 2 percent higher, after Asian indexes ended the trading session on a positive note.

But the jobs survey was compiled in mid-June, before coronavirus cases began to surge in Arizona, Florida and several other states. More recent data, also released by the Labor Department on Thursday, showed that 1.4 million Americans filed new claims for state unemployment benefits last week, and more than 800,000 filed for benefits under the federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program.

Economists fear that layoffs could accelerate now that California, Texas and other states have begun ordering some businesses to close again.

But President Trump, eager to flaunt the numbers, held a news conference Thursday morning at the White House and claimed that “our economy is roaring back.”

And while the country is grappling with surging cases, Mr. Trump, who did not take any questions, said the worst of the virus was in the rearview mirror and that “we are putting out the fires” where there were flare-ups.

Total employment has grown in the past two months because companies have begun recalling temporarily laid-off workers. But layoffs have continued as the economic effects of the pandemic ripple through the economy.

“We’re in a very deep hole, and we just set ourselves back again,” said Diane Swonk, chief economist at the accounting firm Grant Thornton. “It’s difficult to climb out of that hole.”

Congress is eyeing more spending as the virus surges and the economy struggles.

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Credit…Hiroko Masuike/The New York Times

There is a growing recognition across party lines that Congress will need to spend more money, soon, to continue to prop up the American economy during the coronavirus recession.

But there is little consensus on what that next aid package will look like and how quickly it will arrive.

Some economists say lawmakers are risking further damage to an already fragile recovery by not moving more quickly. Real-time indicators of shopping patterns and business openings suggest that a once-brisk economic rebound stalled in June as the virus began spreading more rapidly in Texas, Florida and other states. And even the most encouraging signs of recovery — such as the June jobs report released today — underscore how far the recovery still has to get back to what was normal before the virus: Nearly 18 million Americans remain unemployed.

Lobbyists and lawmakers say the Trump administration, which has lost several economic advisers in recent weeks, is not deeply engaged in devising another rescue package. Officials have hinted for weeks that they would formally propose tax cuts, infrastructure spending and other initiatives, but they have not followed through. Mr. Trump has expressed support for additional tax cuts and government spending.

Senators are expected to leave Washington on Thursday after making only incremental progress toward an agreement to extend further relief to businesses and laid-off workers who are about to lose or have already exhausted federal assistance. Congress this week unanimously agreed to extend an aid program for small businesses through August. But the Senate’s Republican majority rejected a Democratic attempt to extend supplemental benefits for the unemployed until the economy has more fully recovered.

Still, as is their tendency just before funding and programs are set to expire, several lawmakers expressed optimism that Senate Republicans could rapidly reconcile their divisions and deficit fears with the $3 trillion measure that House Democrats approved in May.

Some conservatives continue to push congressional leaders and Mr. Trump to resist any additional government spending. Many economists disagree, saying further aid is needed to support the economy through what could be a long and slow recovery.

“The stimulus was very short-lived,” said Aneta Markowska, chief economist at the investment bank Jefferies. “This problem is going to persist long beyond July.”

Will Europe’s economy recover faster than America’s? The debate is on.

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Credit…Andrea Mantovani for The New York Times

The pandemic has turned the world into a giant laboratory of competing systems, each with its own way of fighting the virus and mitigating its economic damage. The contrast between Europe and the United States has been particularly stark.

After the devastating financial crisis of 2008, the United States recovered much faster than Europe, which suffered a double-dip recession. This time, many economists say Europe may have the edge.

Much of Europe resorted to strict lockdowns that mostly beat back the virus but capsized economies. In the United States, President Trump has prioritized getting the economy moving even as infections multiply.

The main reason America did well after the financial crisis was the rapid response of the government and the flexible nature of the American economy, which was quick to fire workers but also to hire them again. Europe, with built-in social insurance, tries to keep workers from layoffs through subsidies to employers, making it harder to fire workers and more expensive to rehire them.

But this is a different kind of collapse, a mandated shutdown in response to a pandemic, driving down both supply and demand simultaneously. And that difference creates the possibility that the European response, freezing the economy in place, might work better this time.

“It’s an important debate,” said Jean Pisani-Ferry, a senior economist with Bruegel in Brussels and the Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington. “This isn’t a normal recession, and there’s a lot you don’t know, especially if the virus comes back.”

Days after a wedding in India, the groom died and at least 100 guests tested positive for the virus.

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Credit…Santosh Kumar/Hindustan Times, via Getty Images

A groom felt ill at his wedding. Days later, he was dead. Soon, at least 100 guests had tested positive for the virus.

Now, Indian officials have opened an investigation into the mid-June gathering, which some experts are calling a superspreader event, attended by more than 300 guests in the city of Patna, in the northeastern state of Bihar, according to relatives who were there.

The groom, a software engineer living near New Delhi, had returned to his home state to prepare for the ceremony, telling friends it would be remembered forever for taking place during the pandemic.

But shortly before the ceremony, the groom, whose name is being withheld by the police pending charges against members of his family, began to vomit and complained of a headache, according to a relative who spoke on condition of anonymity because she feared being ostracized. The relative said the groom’s family took him to a hospital, but that his parents insisted on continuing with the wedding. He was not tested for the virus, the relative said.

A few days after the wedding, Sri Kumar Ravi, the district magistrate in Patna, said he received an anonymous call: The groom had died, possibly from Covid-19, and his parents had cremated his body.

Through an intermediary, the groom’s parents declined to comment. The Wire, an Indian news outlet, quoted the groom’s father as denying that his son had been sick before the wedding. But he said members of his family, including him, had recently tested positive for the virus.

Mr. Ravi likened the wedding to “forcing your guests into mass suicide,” since there was evidence to suggest the groom knew he was sick before the ceremony but proceeded anyway.

Researchers find new evidence that a mutation helped the virus spread, but questions linger.

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Credit…National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, via Reuters

For months, scientists have debated whether a variant of the coronavirus that has come to predominate in much of the world did so partly because it is more transmissible than other viruses. On Thursday, a team of researchers reported new evidence suggesting that the variant did have such an advantage.

The new paper, led by Bette Korber, a theoretical biologist at Los Alamos National Laboratory, and posted by the journal Cell, presents evidence in the form of lab findings, tests of infected patients and a broad statistical analysis of the pandemic as the D614G variant took over in cities, regions and countries. “The consistency of this pattern was highly statistically significant, suggesting that the G614 variant may have a fitness advantage,” the authors concluded.

The underlying question is important for understanding the early phases of the pandemic and anticipating how it will progress in the coming months. If the genetic glitch that defines the variant imparted even a slight increase in transmissibility, it would help explain why infections exploded in some regions and not in others with similar density and other attributes.

Skeptics argue that it is far more likely that the variation spread widely by chance, multiplying outward from explosive outbreaks in Europe.

“This is an extraordinarily challenging problem,” said Dr. Marc Suchard, a biostatistician at the University of California, Los Angeles, School of Medicine. “The evolution and demography are complex. So there’s much more work to be done.”

Global roundup

Tokyo’s nightlife districts see a surge in new cases.

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Credit…Franck Robichon/EPA, via Shutterstock

Nearly six weeks after Tokyo lifted a coronavirus-related state of emergency and declared the virus contained in the Japanese capital, new cases spiked to 107 on Thursday, up from 67 just a day earlier and the highest level since May 2.

Cases had been rising over the last week, with a high concentration detected in the city’s nightlife districts.

In a news conference on Thursday, Yuriko Koike, the Tokyo governor, said that people in their 20s and 30s accounted for 70 percent of the cases and that many were asymptomatic.

Ms. Koike said she would not ask businesses to close but encouraged the public to take precautions.

Dr. Norio Ohmagari, director of the Disease Control and Prevention Center at the National Center for Global Health and Medicine, said the average daily number of cases, whose route of infection could not be traced, had more than doubled in the last week.

“It indicates the possibility that community transmission could be spreading,” he said.

Elsewhere in the world:

Listen to ‘The Daily’: What Went Wrong in Brazil

Despite a history of success in public health crises, the country has one of the world’s worst coronavirus outbreaks.

  • The European Centre for Disease Control and Prevention urged European Union countries to step up testing and contact tracing, and asked governments to communicate to their citizens that “the pandemic is not over.” The warning comes as Europe’s reopening has brought a resurgence of cases in some pockets.

U.S. roundup

Trump says ‘I’m all for masks’ as more Republicans embrace them.

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Credit…Samuel Corum for The New York Times

Some conservatives and libertarians have made opposition to masks a political cause, but, as cases surge, a growing number of Republican governors and others in their party are trying to send a different message.

Vice President Mike Pence has abruptly started wearing and recommending masks. Representative Liz Cheney of Wyoming shared a photograph on Twitter of her father, former Vice President Dick Cheney, wearing a cowboy hat and pale blue surgical mask, adding the hashtag “#realmenwearmasks.”

Some Republicans have shunned masks because President Trump has declined to wear them and stressed that doing so was voluntary. “I don’t think I’m going to be doing it,” he said in April.

But on Wednesday, Mr. Trump spoke less skeptically about masks. Asked whether Americans should be required to wear them, he said he wasn’t sure they should be mandatory but noted: “I’m all for masks. I think masks are good. I would wear one if I were in a group of people and I was close.”

In an interview with Fox Business Network, Mr. Trump said he had worn a mask before, but asserted that it was usually not necessary, because he and anyone allowed near him were regularly tested. “But if I were in a tight situation with people, I would, absolutely,” he said.

Mr. Trump added that he “sort of liked” the way he looked in a mask. “It was a dark black mask,” he said, “and I thought it looked OK. I looked like the Lone Ranger.”

Mr. Trump also said that he believed the virus was “going to sort of just disappear,” even as cases rise rapidly across the nation.

On Monday, Gov. Brian Kemp of Georgia posted a selfie wearing a mask decorated with the University of Georgia’s bulldog mascot. “Wear your mask, Georgia — and go Dawgs!” he wrote on Twitter. Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, who regularly wears a mask in public, said in Washington this week that there must be “no stigma” about wearing masks.

The new entreaties follow months of misinformation, debate and confusion about wearing masks. Early in the pandemic, government officials instructed Americans not to buy or wear them. In April, they revised that guidance, advising that cloth face coverings were recommended.

Most of the public does not appear to have an aversion to masks. In a New York Times/Siena College poll published last week, 54 percent of people said they always wear a mask when they expect to be in proximity to other people, while 22 percent said they usually wear a mask.

Elsewhere in the United States:

  • Five of the nine Atlantic City casinos are reopening Thursday but with new rules: Gamblers must wear masks, and won’t be allowed to smoke, drink or eat inside.

  • In New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Thursday that the vast majority of families have indicated that they want to send their children back to school in September, according to a survey of roughly 450,000 families. The city is still working on plans to safely maximize the number of students in schools, he said, adding that schools could shift to a staggered schedule. The governor has said logistics are up to individual districts.

  • Also in New York City, 22 streets, some already closed to car traffic, will be dedicated to outdoor dining on Friday nights and weekends. The move will be key in “some places in the city where we have extraordinary restaurants concentrated in one place,” the mayor said.

  • Officials rushing to contain a virus cluster tied to a party in a New York City suburb used an unusual legal strategy: issuing subpoenas to partygoers.

  • In Florida, which broke another single-day reporting record on Thursday, case numbers had been lower earlier in the week, but that may have been because fewer test results were being reported each day. Nearly 69,000 results were reported on Thursday, compared to about 45,000 on Wednesday.

    “We are starting to lose the ability to do contact tracing,” said Dr. J. Glenn Morris, director of the Emerging Pathogens Institute at the University of Florida. Local officials have adopted mask mandates and closed beaches over the holiday weekend. Testing demand has remained high: In Miami-Dade County, which has averaged more than 1,400 daily cases, the biggest testing sites begin taking appointments for the next day at 9 a.m. and have filled them by 9:30 a.m., county officials said.

  • McDonald’s announced a three-week pause in its plans to resume dine-in service at thousands of locations across the United States.

Australia thought it had the outbreak under control. Then it hit the vulnerable.

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Credit…Daniel Pockett/EPA, via Shutterstock

Ring Mayar spends all day knocking on doors in the western suburbs of Melbourne, asking residents if they have a cough, a fever or chills.

Even if they do not, he encourages them to get tested for the coronavirus, as the authorities race to catch up with a string of outbreaks that is threatening to recast Australia’s success story in controlling the virus.

The spike in infections — Victoria reported 77 new cases Thursday, the most since March — has reinforced a dark truth about the outsize impact of the virus on vulnerable communities. In these places, people often must venture out for jobs that put them at risk of contracting the virus, and communication by the authorities in residents’ native languages can be patchy.

“It’s quite daunting,” said Mr. Mayar, the president of the South Sudanese Community Association in the state of Victoria, who has been volunteering in one of the largely immigrant communities where cases are surging.

As it has elsewhere in the world, the virus found a hole in Australia’s system: It spread in part because of the sharing of a cigarette lighter among security guards working at a hotel where returning international travelers are being quarantined.

It later circulated in low-income neighborhoods in the Melbourne area with sizable migrant populations, including inside a supermarket distribution center.

The surge shows how even in countries that appear to be on track to safely resume normal life, the virus can quickly resurface. The Victoria outbreaks have stalled the reopening of state borders, undercut plans to create travel bubbles with other countries and forced 300,000 people back into lockdown.

All eyes are on bars as the virus surges and Americans go drinking.

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Credit…Alyssa Schukar for The New York Times

When the bars in Michigan reopened in June, Tony Hild forgot about face masks, social distancing and caution and headed out to Harper’s Restaurant and Brew Pub, a popular spot in the college town of East Lansing. There was a line out the door. Inside were 200 people dancing, drinking and shouting over the music.

“It was just so crowded, and I’m like, ‘This is going against everything I’m told not to do,’” Mr. Hild, 23, a college student, said. “But I didn’t think I was going to get it.”

As people eager for a night out flood back into public after months of confinement, public health experts say that college-town bars, nightclubs and corner taverns are becoming dangerous new hot spots for the coronavirus, seeding infections in thousands of mostly young adults and adding to surging cases nationwide.

Louisiana health officials tied 100 coronavirus cases to bars in Baton Rouge, La. Minnesota has traced 328 recent cases to bars across the state.

And in East Lansing, home to Michigan State University, more than 100 cases have been linked to Harper’s, Mr. Hild included. He came down with a sore throat, chest pains and fatigue, and by then, more than a week later, he had already visited four other restaurants.

“I definitely regret doing it,” he said.

Public health experts say that the long nights, lack of inhibitions and shoulder-to-shoulder confines inside so many bars — a source of community and relaxation in normal times — now make them ideal breeding grounds for the coronavirus.

A lockdown is reimposed in the West Bank after a steep rise in cases.

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Credit…Jaafar Ashtiyeh/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

The Palestinian Authority announced plans to reimpose virus restrictions throughout the West Bank following a sharp rise in the number of new cases in the territory.

Ibrahim Milhim, a spokesman for the authority, said during a Wednesday news conference that all areas of the West Bank would be locked down for five days beginning on Friday. All businesses will be closed with the exception of bakeries, supermarkets and pharmacies.

A total of 2,908 people in the territory have contracted the virus since the beginning of March — and more than 2,200 of those cases came in the past two weeks alone, according to the health ministry of the Palestinian Authority. The number of virus-related deaths in the territory climbed from three to eight in the same period.

More than 80 percent of the current cases are linked to the city of Hebron, which began to shut down on Wednesday evening.

Mr. Milhim said that the five-day lockdown could be extended and called on Palestinians to follow social distancing guidelines and wear masks, warning that there would be consequences for those who did not comply.

New Zealand’s health minister resigns after missteps, including breaching lockdown.

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Credit…Mark Mitchell/New Zealand Herald, via Associated Press

New Zealand’s health minister stepped down on Thursday after a series of missteps that included breaching lockdown rules, saying he had become a distraction from the country’s efforts to halt the spread of the virus.

“It has become increasingly clear to me that my continuation in the role is distracting from the government’s overall response to Covid-19,” the minister, David Clark, said to reporters in Wellington on Thursday.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern accepted the resignation. “David has put the interests of the team ahead of his own,” she said. “We cannot afford any diversions from our objectives.”

Mr. Clark’s exit could clear up a blemish on what experts have applauded as one of the most successful responses to the pandemic. The government sealed the country’s borders and imposed one of the world’s strictest lockdowns in March. By June, it was able to declare that it had virtually eradicated community transmission, and lifted all restrictions. After a streak of days with no cases, a handful have emerged in recent weeks from travelers to the country.

Mr. Clark had drew ire after he went mountain-biking on a public trail in April, during a time when New Zealanders had been asked to leave home only for essential reasons. He later admitted he had taken another trip with his family to a beach during lockdown.

Mr. Clark was again criticized when he blamed the failure to contain new cases at the border on the country’s well-regarded director-general of health, Ashley Bloomfield.

Boris Johnson’s father defies U.K. travel warnings, arguing he has essential business at his home in Greece.

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Credit…Tolga Akmen/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

While thousands of Britons wait for their government to loosen curbs on summer foreign travel, one person has gone abroad anyway: Stanley Johnson, father of Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

Mr. Johnson, aged 79, posted pictures on social media of his arrival in Greece, a country that currently prevents vacationers flying directly from Britain, which has the world’s fifth-highest number of virus cases, according to a Times database.

The trip, apparently made via Bulgaria, comes in defiance of official British government guidance urging Britons not to go abroad unless they have to, and at a time when those returning to Britain must quarantine for 14 days.

An announcement on the relaxation of those rules had been expected on Thursday but was delayed as the government struggled to finalize its plan to allow Britons to return from dozens of nations without quarantine.

Speaking from Greece, Stanley Johnson told the Daily Mail newspaper that he had traveled to Greece via the Bulgarian capital, Sofia, and was abroad on “essential business trying to Covid-proof my property in view of the upcoming letting season.”

It is not the first time Mr. Johnson has defied the official advice of his son or his government on how to control the outbreak. In March, when the prime minister urged Britons not to visit pubs before the lockdown took effect, Stanley Johnson said he would go anyway if he felt the need.

Reporting was contributed by Livia Albeck-Ripka, Julie Bosman, Benedict Carey, Ben Casselman, Stephen Castle, Emily Cochrane, Michael Cooper, Steven Erlanger, Richard Fausset, Luis Ferré-Sadurní, Kimiko de Freytas-Tamura, Thomas Fuller, Jenny Gross, Jack Healy, Makiko Inoue, Annie Karni, Isabella Kwai, Ernesto Londoño, Patricia Mazzei, Mark Mazzetti, Jesse McKinley, Anna Momigliano, Monika Pronczuk, Adam Rasgon, Motoko Rich, Amanda Rosa, Nelson D. Schwartz, Dionne Searcey, Ed Shanahan, Eliza Shapiro, Mitch Smith, Jim Tankersley, Sabrina Tavernise, Hisako Ueno, Caryn A. Wilson, Edward Wong, Sameer Yasir and Karen Zraick.

Source: nytimes.com

Tags: health

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