Latest Coronavirus Update

Dutchess hospitalizations drop 75 percent from pandemic-high in January

State health officials said that, as of Thursday (Feb. 25d), 8,271 (+27) from the day before) people had tested positive for COVID-19 in Putnam County; 22,088 (+120) in Dutchess; 106,611 (+482) in Westchester; 38,265 (+127) in Rockland; 9,940 (+42) in Ulster; and 36,556 (+222) in Orange. Statewide, there have been 1,614,724 (+8,204) positives, including 703,170 (+4,419) in New York City. For the latest numbers, click here.

■ For vaccine updates, click here.

■ Statewide, 38,321 (+95) people had died as of Feb. 24, including 86 (+0) residents of Putnam County and 407 (+1) from Dutchess.

■ Dutchess County recorded its 399th and 400th COVID-19 deaths on Feb. 17, with half those deaths coming since Dec. 8. Twenty-one of Putnam County’s 85 deaths have come since that date.

■ Beacon had 37 active cases as of Feb. 24 and Putnam had 259 for the week ending Feb. 18, with 37 new cases reported in Philipstown, which has had 729 since March. There were 89 new cases in Carmel, 34 in Kent, 23 in Patterson, 25 in Putnam Valley and 30 in Southeast. Nine people were hospitalized at Putnam Hospital in Carmel.

■ In Dutchess County, there were 3,901 tests conducted on Feb. 25 and 120 positives reported, and in Putnam, there were 1,071 tests and 27 positives reported. The percentage of positive results in the Mid-Hudson Region was 3.7 percent.

■ Dutchess had conducted 528,960 tests as of Feb. 25 and had 4.2 percent positives, while Putnam had conducted 163,948 tests and had 5 percent positives.

■ Statewide, there were 291,189 tests conducted on Feb. 25 and 8,204 positives, or   2.82 percent.

■ The number of people with COVID-19 who are hospitalized in New York state as of Feb. 25 stood at 5,626 (-77); the number in intensive care was 1,132 (+8); and the number of intubations was 771 (-3). In the Mid-Hudson Valley, 44 percent of hospital beds were available and 42 percent of ICU beds.

■ The number of statewide hospitalizations on Thursday (Feb. 25) was the lowest daily total since Nov. 21, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said. Hospitalizations in Dutchess County have dropped 75 percent since Jan. 27, to 43 from a pandemic-high 172.  Hospitalizations in Putnam fell to nine as of Feb. 18 from 26 on Jan. 7. 

■ As of Feb. 24, the state reported 2,566 new COVID-19 cases and a 4.2 percent positivity rate in Dutchess County for February compared to 6,917 new cases in January (7.4 percent rate).  Total cases and the positivity rate also fell in Putnam, to 820 in February (4.2 percent positivity) from 2,447 in January (7.6 percent).

■ Quinn’s Bar in Beacon announced on Facebook that, as of Wednesday (Feb. 25), the business was closing for a week because some employees were under quarantine. “Because our crew is so small, we cannot run service as usual,” the post said. 

■ Putnam County has its first case of the more-contagious U.K. strain of the virus that causes COVID-19, the state said on Feb. 23. The state reported the first case in Dutchess County three days earlier. In all, 154 cases had been confirmed, including 83 in New York City.

■ New York’s first case of the South African strain of the virus that causes COVID-19 has been identified in a Nassau County resident, the state said on Feb. 21. Both the South African and U.K. strains are considered more contagious than the version of the virus now dominant in the U.S. Last week, the state announced that a Connecticut resident hospitalized in New York City was found to have the South African strain.

■ The first Dutchess County resident has tested positive for the for the more-contagious U.K. strain of the virus that causes COVID-19, the state said on Feb. 20. The state on Saturday that 54 new cases of the strain had been identified, raising the total number to 136, including four in Rockland County and five in Westchester.

■ Beacon’s St. Patrick’s Parade Day of Green, originally scheduled for March 13, has been canceled due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, said organizers. Entry fees and donations will be used for next year’s parade. “Although we made some preparations with hopes of going forward, the reality is that the most sensible step is cancellation,” said organizers.

■ Nursing homes can resume allowing visitors in accordance with federal guidelines,  Gov. Andrew Cuomo said on Feb. 19, under guidance to be released on Feb. 22. The state Department of Health is recommending that visitors be screened for COVID-19 using rapid tests, and said the state will provide the tests to nursing homes for free.

■ New York City restaurants can expand indoor dining to 35 percent capacity to match New Jersey’s limit starting on Feb. 26, Cuomo said. The city’s restaurants were allowed to resume indoor dining, at 25 percent capacity, on Feb. 12.

■ As of Feb. 24, according to the State COVID Report Card, Haldane had reported 27 students and 14 teachers/staff who had tested positive; Garrison reported six students and seven teachers/staff; and Beacon reported 70 students and 36 teachers/staff.

■ New York is extending the open enrollment period for its health insurance exchange to May 15. Residents needing coverage can find plans and enroll at NY State of Health, call 1-855-355-5777 or contact a free enrollment assistor. Residents eligible for Medicaid, the Essential Plan and Child Health Plus can enroll year-round.

■ The governor extended his state of emergency order through March 16, allowing public meetings to continue to be held remotely.

■ Indoor family entertainment centers and places of amusement can open at 25 percent capacity beginning March 26, and outdoor amusement parks can open at 33 percent capacity beginning April 9, Cuomo said on Feb. 17. Each site will have to submit reopening plans and health protocals to local health departments. Cuomo also said that day and overnight summer camps in can begin planning for reopening.

■ Sports and entertainment venues seating 10,000 people or more will be allowed to open at 10 percent capacity beginning Feb. 23, Cuomo said on Feb. 10. Venues will have to obtain state Department of Health approval, ensure staff and spectators have a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours of an event, mandate mask-wearing and social distancing, and meet other guidelines. The Barclays Center in Brooklyn, home of the Brooklyn Nets, is already approved to have fans when the Sacramento Kings visit on Feb. 23.

■ The liquor licenses of 23 bars and restaurants have been suspended in February for “egregious” violations of COVID-19 health and safety regulations, Cuomo said on Feb. 17. Eighteen establishments were in New York City’s boroughs and five on Long Island, and they all face fines of up to $10,000 per violation. The state has suspended the liquor licenses of 393 businesses during the pandemic.

■ Students in an eight-grade class and eight middle-school staff at Garrison are under quarantine until Feb. 22 after being exposed last week to a person who tested positive for COVID-19, Superintendent Carl Albano said on Feb. 15. The infected person was at the school on Thursday (Feb. 11) and Friday (Feb. 12), said Albano. Health guidelines require that the students and staff quarantine for 10 days from the last date of exposure. Because the staff members will still be quarantining on Feb. 22, students in grades six to eight will learn remotely that day, said Albano. Students will resume in-person learning on Tuesday, he said.

■ A Connecticut resident hospitalized in New York City tested positive for the South African strain of COVID-19, Cuomo said on Feb. 14. Both the South African and UK strains “seem to spread more easily and quickly,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. To date, the state has no evidence of the South African strain spreading to New York state, said Cuomo. As of Feb. 13, 70 cases of the UK variant had been identified in the state.

■ As of Feb. 13, Putnam County was averaging 38 new COVID-19 cases a day in February, less than half the 79 average new daily cases for January. Dutchess County was averaging 118 newly confirmed infections a day in February, compared to 223 for January.

■ Along with bars and restaurants, gyms, fitness centers, casinos, pool halls and other businesses with State Liquor Authority licenses are now allowed to open until 11 p.m. instead of 10 p.m. under an order signed by Cuomo that took effect on Feb. 14.

■ Bars and restaurants can stay open an hour longer, until 11 p.m. instead of 10 p.m., beginning on Valentine’s Day, Cuomo said on Feb. 12. He cited the continued statewide decline in infection rates and hospitalizations.

■ Citing COVID-19-related staff shortages at local boards of elections. Cuomo announced on Feb. 14 that the state was extending to Feb. 16 the deadline for residents to change their party affiliation.

■ Eleven new cases of the more-contagious UK strain of COVID-19 have been identified in the state, including one in Rockland County and eight in New York City, Cuomo said on Feb. 13. The state has found 70 total cases in New York City and in 13 counties: Saratoga, Warren, Onondaga, Nassau, Suffolk, Westchester, Rockland, Ulster, Essex, Jefferson, Tompkins, Allegany and Niagara.

■ The statewide daily positivity rate fell to 3.54 percent on Feb. 10, the lowest level since Nov. 25, and the 7-day average stood at 4.16 percent, the lowest since Dec. 1. The number of people hospitalized with COVID-19, 7,342, was the lowest since Dec. 26.

■ Haldane canceled in-person classes for its high school on Feb. 10 after being notified the night before that a student who was on campus as recently as Feb. 5 had tested positive. The district notified staff who are required to quarantine and expected to notify students by the end of the day as part of the contact-tracing process, Superintendent Phil Benante said. He reminded parents to notify principals immediately if their child tests positive because the district is required to trace the infected person’s contacts for 48 hours preceding symptoms or a positive test.

■ The Beacon Wellness Pharmacy at  333 Main St. is offering rapid COVID-19 tests. Call 845-765-8878 to make an appointment.

■ New York’s 7-day average positivity rate of 4.38 percent as of Feb. 8 was the state’s lowest level since Dec. 1. The 7-day average for the Mid-Hudson Region, which includes Dutchess and Putman counties, stood at 5.34 percent. It was the second-highest regional rate in the state, behind Long Island, but the Mid-Hudson’s lowest 7-day average since Dec. 2.

■ New York City restaurants can resume indoor dining on Feb. 12, Cuomo said on Feb. 8. Restaurants will be limited to 25 percent capacity and subject to other restrictions.

■ On Feb. 8, Cuomo announced the launch of NY PopsUp, a months-long festival that will bring hundreds of live “pop-up” performances to venues across the state, including the Hudson Valley. Starting Feb. 20 and going through Labor Day, the festival is to be a “bridge to the broader reopening of our world-class performance venues and institutions” following the pandemic, said Cuomo. Producers Scott Rudin and Jane Rosenthal will oversee the festival, whose performers will include Alec Baldwin, Hugh Jackman, Sarah Jessica Parker and Chris Rock.

■ A group of Haldane elementary, middle and high school students have been ordered to quarantine because a staff member tested positive for COVID-19. Superintendent Phil Benante said in an email to parents on Feb. 5 that the district was notified that day of the positive test. The staff member was last on campus on Feb. 4, he said. Benante also said that six students working remotely have tested positive in the last few weeks.

■ Active cases in Dutchess have fallen dramatically since reaching a pandemic-high 2,576 on Jan. 16. The active-case count stood at 1,267 on Feb. 4.

■ New York state has identified 59 known cases of the U.K. variant of COVID-19, including in Ulster and Westchester counties, the state said on Feb. 5. The variant is more contagious than the original strain and has also been found in: New York City and Jefferson, Niagara, Allegany, Tompkins, Nassau, Suffolk, Saratoga, Onondaga, Warren and Essex counties.

■ In addition to forcing the cancellation of vaccination clinics, the massive snowstorm that hit the Mid-Hudson Region on Feb. 1 appears to have also depressed COVID-19 tests for Dutchess and Putnam. Putnam tested 610 people, the county’s lowest number of daily tests since Nov. 21. In Dutchess, 1,882 people took tests on Feb. 1, the county’s smallest one-day total since Jan. 4.

■ On Feb. 1, Attorney General Letitia James said her office has renewed its suspension, until Feb. 28, of the collection of medical and student debt owed to state. She also said that residents seeking relief from the collection of non-medical and non-student debts owed to the state can fill out an application online or call the Office of the Attorney General hotline, 800-771-7755.

■ New York’s 7-day average positivity rate had fallen for 23 straight days as of Jan. 31. The 7-day average was 5.2 percent as of Saturday, the lowest rate since Dec. 14. “The news is very good, but keep an eye on the U.K. variants and the other variants because all of them suggest more diligence will be needed,” Cuomo said.

■ Both Dutchess and Putnam are seeing their daily positivity rates, the percentage of COVID-19 tests that are positive, fall over the last seven days of data reporting. After averaging 8.2 percent from Jan. 1 to 22, the positivity rate in Dutchess averaged 6.3 percent from Jan. 23 to 29. Putnam averaged 6.1 percent during the seven-day period, compared to 8.5 percent for the rest of January. Overall, new cases are declining in the state overall, a trend state officials attribute to the waning of a surge triggered by holiday travel and gatherings.

■ Brides and grooms can resume holding wedding receptions starting March 15, Cuomo said on Jan. 29. Events must be approved by local health departments and be limited to 50 percent capacity and no more than 150 people. Each guest must be tested to COVID-19 before the event, the governor said.

■ On Jan. 29, Vera’s Marketplace & Garden Center in Cold Spring announced that it will be closed temporarily after being told that a possible COVID-19 exposure took place there at the beginning of the week.

■ Cuomo said on Jan. 27 that, because of declines in new cases and hospitalization rates, all orange zone and some yellow zone restrictions have been lifted, except for remaining yellow zones in Newburgh and the Bronx, Queens and Washington Heights in New York City. Existing statewide restrictions remain for areas no longer in orange and yellow zones, including capacity limits for certain businesses and restrictions on mass gatherings.

■ Dutchess, Putnam and the five other Mid-Hudson Region counties said on Jan. 27 that they will authorize basketball, football, lacrosse, volleyball and other “high-risk” school sports to begin on Feb. 1 after discussions with local health officials. Competitive cheerleading and dance, ice hockey, martial arts, rugby and wrestling are among the other sports allowed to begin. Each district has the option of prohibiting students to play. “The health and safety of students, staff and the local community during this pandemic must be each district’s first priority,” said Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell.

■ On Jan. 27, Cuomo announced that additional cases of the United Kingdom variant of COVID-19 have been found in Long Island and New York City, and in Westchester, Saratoga, Tompkins, Niagara, Onondaga, Essex and Warren counties. The state has found 42 cases total of the variant, which is more contagious.

■ On Jan. 26, Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney announced that the MTA is receiving $600,000 in federal funding to study how COVID-19 is dispersed in the air on mass transit systems.

■ As of Jan. 24, the number of Dutchess County residents testing positive for COVID-19 each day was falling after hitting a high of 384 on Jan. 14 — during a nine-day period when the new cases averaged 277 per day. Dutchess was averaging 216 new COVID-19 cases a day since Jan. 14. On Jan. 22, the state reported 199 new cases in Dutchess, the county’s first day under 200 since Jan. 5. Putnam was averaging 80 new cases a day since Jan. 14, compared to 90 during the first two weeks of the month.

■ On Jan. 25, Garrison school Superintendent Carl Albano said the district’s students will remain on virtual learning through Jan. 29 because of staff illnesses and COVID-19 quarantines.  In-person instruction will resume on Feb. 1, Albano said in an email to parents and guardians. “I thank you in advance for your patience and understanding as we continue to navigate these very challenging conditions,” said Albano.

■ On Jan. 21, the state extended the open enrollment period to apply for health insurance at NY State of Health has been extended through March 31. Coverage will begin on March 1 for those who enroll by Feb. 15; on April 1 for those who enroll by March 15; and on May 1 for those who enroll by March 31. Individuals who are eligible for Medicaid, Essential Plan and Child Health Plus can enroll yearround. See nystateofhealth.ny.gov or call 855-355-5777 for assistance.

■ Haldane school Superintendent Phil Benante notified parents on Jan. 19 that he was quarantining after testing positive for COVID-19. In an email, Benante said he was told on Jan. 16 that a person he was in contact with outside of school tested positive. Anyone he was in direct contact with last Thursday and Friday have been notified, Benante said. “I share this information with you in the spirit of remaining candid about my absence from campus.  My symptoms are very mild thus far and I look forward to being back soon,” he wrote.

■ On Jan. 17, the Garrison School announced that some students in the fourth, fifth, seventh and eighth grades would quarantine for 10 days because an employee who was at the school on Jan. 13 and 14 had tested positive. On Jan. 16, Haldane announced that some students would be quarantined after an elementary school staff member who had last been on campus on Jan. 13 and a member of the school services staff who had last been on campus on Jan. 14 had each tested positive.

■ On Jan. 13, the Haldane school district reported an elementary student who had been at school as recently as Jan. 11 had tested positive. As a result, a small group of elementary students and staff have to quarantine as directed by the Putnam County Department of Health, said Superintendent Philip Benante. He said that because all spaces in the school are cleaned daily in accordance with federal guidelines, Haldane schools would remain open.

■ The Beacon Highway Department and Transfer Station announced on Jan. 11 that it will be closed until Jan. 19 “due to COVID-19 protocols.” If you need assistance, leave a message at 845-831-0932 or call City Hall at 845-838-5000.

■ On Jan. 7, organizers said the Southern Dutchess Coalition Annual Martin Luther King Birthday Celebration, scheduled for Jan. 18 at the Springfield Baptist Church in Beacon, has been canceled because of the pandemic shutdown.

■ On Jan. 8, the Dutchess County health department announced it had partnered with Rumble Up, a texting platform, to communicate with residents who test positive for COVID-19. “Across the state, as the high volume of new daily positive cases continues, it has become increasingly difficult for case investigators to connect with individuals who test positive in a timely manner, even with additional staffing resources available,” the agency said in a statement. “The texting application provides those who test positive for COVID with important information about how to properly isolate and notify close contacts to prevent the spread of the virus, as well as other resources and information.” The platform also allows the health department “to concurrently alert multitudes of residents of their positive test results and offer them follow-up instructions regarding quarantining — alleviating the already-overwhelmed contact tracing and case investigation apparatus.”

■ On Jan. 5, the Putnam County Health Department said the uptick in cases in Philipstown — it reported about a fourth of its total cases since March during the week ending Dec. 31 — was “due to an isolated, contained cluster within a congregate setting,” e.g., a group residence. Shanna Siegel, a public health nurse with the county, said “the result of this cluster will be evident on next week’s dashboard, as well. This cluster is only one aspect of the overall increase in positive cases. Communities across Putnam County are beginning to see the early effects of holiday gatherings — the full impact will be felt in the coming weeks as we continue to see case numbers rise and higher rates of hospitalizations.”

■ On Jan. 6, Jonathan Hotz, a representative of the Graymoor religious order in Garrison, said there had been an outbreak at St. Christopher’s Inn, its homeless shelter for men. “On Dec. 22, a shelter resident who had begun exhibiting symptoms tested positive for the coronavirus,” he said. “This triggered a lockdown and testing among our entire resident population. Several residents tested positive and/or subsequently became symptomatic themselves.” He said all shelter residents were restricted to a single building and had no contact with the public. “In addition, we contacted the Putnam County Department of Health, which has been a great resource for us. Further, our on-site medical staff continues to monitor the condition of our residents, with daily guidance and support from the department. “The worst is behind us,” he said. “Most men in the shelter are scheduled to complete and screen out of isolation and quarantine by Jan. 10, and symptomatic residents are stable and recovering.” In addition, he said, all residents who tested negative were vaccinated on Jan. 6 and vaccinations were being offered to staff members at St. Christopher’s Inn and Graymoor who had contact with shelter residents.

■ The state announced on Jan. 4 the first confirmed case of the more-contagious UK strain of COVID-19 virus had been detected in an individual in Saratoga Springs. Two other related cases were discovered as of Jan. 9, as well as a case on Long Island. It does not appear that the strain is more deadly.

■ The state on Dec. 29 announced new quarantine guidelines: Individuals exposed to COVID-19 can end their quarantine after 10 days without testing, instead of 14, as long as they do not have symptoms.

■ The federal government extended a temporary moratorium for most evictions until May 31. To be eligible, renters must have experienced a “substantial” loss of household income, a layoff or “extraordinary” out-of-pocket medical expenses and can’t expect to earn more than $99,000 in 2020 (or $198,000 for married people filing their tax returns jointly). A declaration form is required.

■ The state has established a COVID-19 Emotional Support Hotline at 844-863-9314 for mental health counseling and resources. Health care workers can text NYFRONTLINE to 741-741 to access 24/7 emotional support services. For more information see omh.ny.gov.

feeling sickWhat If I Feel Sick?

You’re feeling ill, with a cough, fever, difficulty breathing or shortness of breath. What should you do?

“It’s important to emphasize that the risk of serious illness from COVID-19 remains low,” the Putnam Hospital Center advises patients on its website. “Most infected people will experience mild upper respiratory symptoms.

“Some people, including the elderly and those with underlying medical conditions such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), diabetes and heart disease, are at greater risk and may require more intensive care and/or hospitalization.”

If you feel ill, the hospital says the first step is to contact your doctor. Many offer “virtual” visits by teleconference. If you visit your doctor’s office or an urgent care, call first to let them know of your symptoms. Only go to the emergency department or call 911 if you are in urgent distress, and let the dispatcher know that you may have been exposed to COVID-19.

If your doctor believes you have COVID-19, he or she can order a test, which allows you to make an appointment by phone at a drive-thru facility. At the facility, a sample will be collected and sent for testing.

For general questions about COVID-19, Putnam Hospital Center operates a hotline staffed by nurses daily from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. at 888-667-9262. A representative for the hospital said that most callers (1) ask about symptoms and what to do if exposed to someone who has COVID-19; (2) believe they have symptoms, in which case they are referred to their doctor; or (3) ask how they can donate equipment such as masks, anti-bacterial soap and, in one case, a pediatric ventilator.

The hospital has a list of commonly asked questions and responses posted at nuvancehealth.org. The state Department of Health also has a hotline at 888-364-3065 that is open around the clock to answer general questions or for information about testing sites.

Questions? Dutchess County posts updates at dutchessny.gov and has a hotline at 845-486-3555. Putnam County posts info at putnamcountyny.com. New York State has a hotline at 888-364-3065 and a webpage at coronavirus.health.ny.gov, which is also where you can find a testing site. The state also created an email list to provide updates. The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention posts updates at cdc.gov.

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5 thoughts on “Latest Coronavirus Update

  1. Will you please continue to keep us informed about the where, how and when of vaccinations? I’ve inquired of all the reliable sources. Many have not responded, and all others have said “We do not know,” “We have not been informed.” This is, of course, outrageous and destructive — so we rely on your expertise and reliability to keep track of it!

  2. 104 new cases in Philipstown for the week ending 12/31 is a very large jump. This is more new cases than any other town in the county, save Carmel, which has a far larger population base (of about 34,000 compared to about 10,000 for Philipstown). Any ideas as to why this large increase? In recent weeks Philipstown was seeing a more moderate (but still concerning) rate of about 30 new cases per week.

    Are new measures and protocols needed? Or better enforcement and adherence to already existing measure and protocols? Is there more to this story?

  3. You mention that people get vaccinated at a clinic held by Dutchess County on Friday (Jan. 15) and at a clinic held on Thursday (Jan. 14) at the Philipstown Recreation Center. Where did people register to get an appointment there? How did they know how they should register there to get an appointment in these centers?

    As it happened it is by word-of-mouth that we learned how and where to register to get an appointment. Many people don’t have the word-of-mouth connection and therefore don’t know how to get an appointment. In fact, older people who are computer-illiterate or non-English speakers or those with no computer are kept out of the appointment loop. These are the people who need it the most. You must not only inform us of vaccination progress but more important of the channels by which people can get appointments. Every community center or library should have a volunteer who could help people register to get an appointment.

    • Both Dutchess and Putnam counties have started announcing vaccine availability on their websites, dutchessny.gov and putnamcountyny.com, and Facebook pages. Dutchess also set up on its website a notification system so people can register to receive emails about vaccine appointments.

      The state is telling people to check its “Am I Eligible” site, am-i-eligible.covid19vaccine.health.ny.gov, for available appointments at state-run vaccination sites. The one closest to the Highlands is at the Westchester County Center in White Plains.

      Drug World at Cold Spring is also approved to administer vaccines. You have to check their website, drugworld.com, or Facebook page for available slots. At this point, vaccine supply is limited and appointment slots fill quickly. Some local community health centers, like Cornerstone Family Healthcare in Newburgh and Sun River Health in Peekskill, are also doing vaccines, but you have to check their websites and Facebook pages for availability.

      • That is my point. If you don’t speak English or have a computer, how can you check availability? You need help. We need volunteers who can help just get a file number on Am I Eligible, than relentlessly navigate from site to site trying to find an appointment.

        Also, couldn’t all the sites be accessible from one portal? As it is we must navigate six different sites in order to cover the appointment availability.
        I would like to volunteer to try to organize the system but don t even know who to contact as it is decentralized. If you have ideas pass them on, please.

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