COVID-19 News

ABC/Fred Lee(NEW YORK) -- Spike Lee is giving fans plenty to do during their #quarantineandchill down time. In a new Instagram post, the Oscar winner announced he's released the script for his unmade Jackie Robinson film, which dates back to 1996, the year he wrote it.

“Afternoon From Da Corona Epicenter Of The USA-NYC,” Lee wrote, sharing a video of himself sitting on his couch. “I Dug Deep Into Da 40 Acres Vault And Pulled Out This Script From One Of My EPIC Dream (Never Got Made) Projects-JACKIE ROBINSON."

"You Do Not Have To Be A Baseball Fan To Enjoy," he continued. "This Script Is A Great American Story. Be Safe. Peace, Light And Love. And Dat’s Da “Brooklyn Dodger” Truth, Ruth. YA-DIG? SHO-NUFF.”

In his video, Lee reveals that his script -- which was his fifth draft of the screenplay -- centered around one special actor: Oscar-winner Denzel Washington.

Lee said he hoped to re-team with his Malcolm X star, but Denzel says he felt "too old" to play the baseball legend, who helped to shatter MLB’s color barrier.

“Hope you enjoy it,” Spike said. “If not, that’s alright too. It’s never getting made, but I wanted to share this script with you. Be safe! Be safe! Social distancing! Peace.”

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved. 



iStock/cSondy(LOS ANGELES) -- (NOTE CONTENT) With weddings worldwide being postponed or canceled over COVID-19 concerns, another adult-oriented site has cleaned up its act to help out. 

AdultFriendFinder has launched the safe for work site weddings.adultfriendfinder.com, and is offering to livestream your wedding to friends and family situated across the world for free in crisp 4K and 1080p.

The site notes that couples can select between having a private video channel that is only accessible to friends and family via a private link and password, or a public video channel that the world can tune in to and watch. 

FriendFinder Networks CEO Jonathan Buckheit tells ABC Audio, "Over the years, we have seen many marriages by couples who met on AdultFriendFinder. We appreciate the many years of patronage the public have given us on our site, and thought this this was a nice way of saying thank you during a difficult time for people who want to take advantage of our offer."

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.



New Balance(MASSACHUSETTS) -- The American-made company New Balance may have earned itself lots of brand-new customers when this COVID-19 pandemic is over, based on the reaction to a tweet noting it has started making masks for first responders. 

"Made shoes yesterday, making masks today" declares the tweet, accompanied by a photo of a sturdy-looking face mask, with what looks like shoelace-inspired straps. 

The tweet pointed users to a statement on the company's website, which explained, "The global COVID-19 health crisis has called on individuals and organizations to bring their expertise and resources to solve new and extraordinary challenges. New Balance has engaged a portion of its skilled and innovative U.S. manufacturing workforce to develop face masks to address the significant demand for these supplies."

The sneaker company explained they're producing prototypes at its Lawrence, MA manufacturing facility, and "hope to scale production using our other New England factories soon," in coordination with local and government officials. 

For their part, people applauded the decision, with more than sharing one poster's sentiment, "Forget Nike -- I'm getting all my shoes from these guys."

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved. 



ABC/Paula Lobo(LOS ANGELES) -- Like the rest of us, John Kransinki is desperately in need of some good news, so he brought us just that in the form of a homemade "news" show on YouTube dubbed, well, Some Good News.

Featuring a colorful SGN logo -- made by his daughters, the Quiet Place director explained -- Krasinski sat at a desk like an anchorman and delivered some uplifting headlines about people being awesome to each other amid the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

Krasinski explained he farmed out his fans to help him look for uplifting stories -- from an interview with a 15-year-old girl named Coco who'd just undergone her last chemo treatment, to a headline about someone leaving hand sanitizer and toilet paper for their mail carrier. 

"Without question, we are all going through an incredibly trying time, but through all the anxiety, all the confusion, all the isolation and all the Tiger King, somehow the human spirit found a way to break through and blow us all away," the actor and director said. 

Even for a low-budget news show -- Krasinski showed he was only dressed in a suit from the waist up -- there was no shortage of star power as he also reminisced with Steve Carell, via video chat, about their time starring together on The Office

Both men cited Carell's handling of a tiny plasma TV in the infamous episode "The Dinner Party" as an all-time favorite. They also mentioned they'd all like to reunite, not as their characters from The Office but "just as people" when this crisis is over. 

Krasinski ended the first edition of Some Good News by hinting more may be to come.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.



Grafner/iStock(NEW YORK) -- Some good news, despite rising concerns of medical supply shortages, such as masks and gloves, 3D printing might assist in some areas.

3D printers at Northwell Health in New Hyde Park, New York are already producing nasal swabs to increase the amount of test kits used to diagnose COVID-19.

Dr. Todd Goldstein, director of 3D Design and Innovation at Northwell Health, called 3D-printed nasal swabs "our best weapon" because "This swab is the first line of defense, so to speak, against the coronavirus, because we need to test people and know if they're positive or not. And in order to do that, we have to collect samples."

Currently, Northwell Health is producing between 2,000 to 3,000 swabs a day.  They also released their design to the public and is already teaming up with the University of South Florida in Tampa and Formlabs in Somerville, Massachusetts.

Goldstein hopes more help produce the swabs as it could reduce the pressure on already strained manufacturers: "Anyone who has these printers and materials -- we're talking dental labs, university hospitals, high schools, middle schools, universities, engineering schools, even companies that use these printers for prototyping ... if they get the correct resin, they can also make these swabs and help with the shortages."

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.



Photo by Tibrina Hobson/WireImage(LOS ANGELES) -- Sunday, March 29 is a significant date in Rita Wilson's life, one on which she commemorated being a "COVID-19 Survivor" and "Five Years Cancer Free." 

The actress, who is home in Los Angeles after undergoing two weeks of quarantine in Australia with her husband, Tom Hanks, when the pair was diagnosed with the disease, looked back on her Instagram in a lengthy, grateful post. 

"This date, March 29, represents a time of great happiness," Wilson begins her post, which features a throwback photo of her and Larry David. "I was on Broadway starring with Larry David in his play Fish In The Dark before finding out I had been diagnosed with breast cancer. March 29 also marks five years of being cancer free after having had a bilateral mastectomy."

She thanked her doctors and other health care workers who got her through that, as well as her fans and some divine intervention. "You, online friends, also need to be thanked because your prayers and optimism were felt deeply. And, so thankful for the blessings God has bestowed on me, then and now."

Of her most recent March 29 observance, Wilson writes, "I am celebrating the beauty of this life, the blessings God has given, and my continued good health, even now as a COVID 19 survivor. Please take a moment today to acknowledge the amazing creation your bodies are and to thank it for doing so much."

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.



FOX(LOS ANGELES) -- As America grapples with the rising COVID-19 pandemic, Elton John teamed up with an array of artists on Sunday night to "lift your spirits" for the first ever iHeart Living Room Concert for America that aired on Fox.

The concert not only served as means to comfort those worried about the outbreak, but it also helped raise money for two critical charities: First Responders Children Foundation and Feeding America.  It was later revealed by comedian Ken Jeong that Fox was matching donations.

"We hope this bit of entertainment can feed and fuel your soul," said Sir Elton, who also comedically revealed that he was quarantined in his only house that doesn't have a piano.

Thankfully, no piano was required for his hosting duties: The performances fell to the artists who lent their vocal talents to entertain America from their homes.  However, at the end of the concert, he did manage to get his hands on a keyboard so he could close with a special performance of "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me."

First up was Alicia Keys, who opened with an encouraging, "my hope is that we remember how resident we are and how we defy the odds" as she delicately played her piano.  She then dedicated her performance of "Underdog" to the "first responders and medical professionals that are risking their lives to keep us safe."

Following Alicia, the Backstreet Boys took the living room stage with Brian Littrell greeting fans from the comfort and safety of his house. He joked that he and his band was "bringing our living room to yours" before shouting out frontline responders who are "putting themselves in harm's way" to keep the globe safe. 

The gang sang "I Want It That Way" and even broke out some lighthearted dance moves to elicit some much-needed smiles.  Kevin Richardson and Nick Carter even got their kids involved, from playing instruments to dancing around the backyard.

Up next was Dave Grohl from Foo Fighters who dedicated his performance of "My Hero" to all those on the  front lines.

Billie Eilish and Finneas followed Grohl with an acoustic rendition of "bad guy" from their couch.  Billie revealed she wanted "to be some sort of comfort in this crazy time" before urging "Let's stay strong together."  

Up next was Shawn Mendes and Camila Cabello who flirted a bit before introducing the song "My Oh My"  with Camila on vocals and Shawn on guitar.  More adorable than the lovebirds was their dog in the background who excitedly tried to steal the spotlight in the beginning.

Billie Joe Armstrong from Green Day, who took over for Cabello and Mendes, also showed off his canine companion as he sang "Boulevard of Broken Dreams."  

While Lady Gaga didn't perform, she reached out to fans with an empathetic, "I know what's going on in the world is terrifying" and that "my heart goes out to people who lost loved ones."  She used her time to touch upon mental health, encouraging those to communicate with friends and family to combat the feeling of isolation and anxiety.  She concluded, "Be kind to yourselves." 

Lizzo and Elton also discussed mental health and the negative emotions COVID-19 is stoking.  As the friends live chatted on Zoom, Lizzo brought up that "it's important to remember that music brings people together" and praised everyone involved for coming together during such an uncertain time.  "We cannot let this tear us apart," she said in closing. "We can't let the fear spread faster than the virus."  

Following such a serious discussion, Tim McGraw took the stage next to perform a lighthearted "Something like That" while sitting on his diving board as his band played live from their respective houses.  His spot ended with him thanking his daughter Maggie for holding the camera and sweetly blew her a kiss.

Demi Lovato took the majority of her slot to urge those viewing to donate and "do what you can to lift [people] up."  She closed with a brief piano rendition of "Skyscraper."

Last up was Mariah Carey who put her heart into "Always Be My Baby" and made sure to prove she is the queen of the whistle register by spending the last moments of the song hitting a series of high notes.  She concluded with an adorable anecdote that after she leaves the studio, she's going to put her gloves back on "even in my own home."

Other performers helping to spread positivity were H.E.R. and Sam Smith.

Thanking first responders was a unifying theme during Sunday night's concert.   The show offered numerous first-hand accounts from EMTs, doctors and nurses about how they're battling against the pandemic.  One nurse, named Melissa, who is working at a COVID-19 ICU at her hospital tearfully revealed that she feels like she's "working in a war zone."

Talk show host Ellen Degeneres also shouted out essential workers, namely those who work at grocery stores, making sure people are still able to eat by keeping the shelves stocked. 

As the concert wrapped up, Sir Elton urged the audience to continue giving to First Responders Children Foundation and Feeding America before thanking everyone for coming together to promote positivity.

 Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.



(NEW YORK) -- Here's the latest information on the COVID-19 coronavirus as of 9:30 a.m. ET.

Latest reported numbers globally per Johns Hopkins University
Global diagnosed cases: 737,929
Global deaths: 35,019
Number of countries/regions: at least 177
Total patients recovered globally: 156,507

Latest reported numbers in the United States per Johns Hopkins University
At least 143,055 diagnosed cases in 50 states the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam.  This is now more than any other country. 
U.S. deaths: at least 2,513
Total U.S. patients recovered: 4,865

Latest reported deaths per state
Visit https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/map.htmlfor the latest numbers.

School closures
For a state-by-state interactive map of current school closures, please visit the Education Week website, where numbers are updated once daily.

There are 98,277 public schools and 34,576 private schools in the U.S., according to the National Center for Education Statistics. Those schools educate almost 50.8 million public school students and 5.8 million private school students.

The latest headlines
New dates announced for Tokyo Summer Olympics
After announcing last week that the Summer Games had been canceled due to COVID-19 concerns, the International Olympic Committee Monday announced the Games will now take place in 2021.  The Summer Games will take place in Tokyo from July 23 to August 8, 2021, while the Paralympic Games will take place from August 24 to September 5.  “These new dates give the health authorities and all involved in the organisation of the Games the maximum time to deal with the constantly changing landscape and the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic,” the IOC said in the statement announcing the new dates.

Tampa church defies stay-at-home order, continues holding services
WFTS in Tampa, Florida reports that despite a county-wide order to stay at home during the COVID-19 pandemic, The River at Tampa Bay Church is still holding services at their Tampa location.  They’re also streaming their services online, which is how locals learned Sunday that the church was defying the stay-at-home order.  The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Department sent deputies to the church Sunday night and erected a sign urging locals to practice social distancing, but to little effect.  Church officials said they should officially be declared an essential service, like medical personnel and law enforcement, and so should be exempt from any prohibitions.  Many churches around the U.S. continue to hold in-person services, where parishioners do not practice the social distancing recommended by infectious disease experts to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

Tampa erects tent city for homeless residents
How do you self-isolate against COVID-19 at home, when you have no home?  Florida’s Tampa Times reports Hillsborough County has erected a tent city for the county’s homeless population that will allow up to 100 of them to shelter in place, in keeping with the county’s current stay-at-home order.  The Catholic Diocese of St. Petersburg has accepted $120,000 from Tampa officials to establish and run and camp for at least the next 30 days.  The facilities include mobile bathrooms and showers and laundry facilities, and also provides meals and medical treatment.

Locals attempt to block out-of-towners from vacationing in their town
Tourism is usually a welcome source of income for small towns, but all bets are off during the COVID-19 pandemic.  WCIV Charleston, SC, reports residents of the coastal town of Edisto [ED-is-toh], south of Charleston, lined up along a local highway over the weekend with handmade signs reading “Health Over Wealth,” “Stay Home Stay Healthy” and “I’m Not Coming to Play in Your Backyard” in response to what they say are out-of-towners coming to town to stock up on food and other supplies that the locals need.  They’re also petitioning the mayor to temporarily close the beach.  Similar protests took place in the coastal town of Folly Beach.  Meanwhile,  The New York Times reports some residents of the island town of Vinalhaven, Maine cut down a tree Friday and placed it across the main access road to prevent three out-of-town roommates they believe may have COVID-19 from leaving their residence.

Good news!
Trooper pulls doctor for speeding, gives her N-95 masks
The state trooper pulled Dr. Sarosh Ashraf Janjua for speeding March 21, but the traffic stop didn’t end the way she thought it might.  As the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports, Trooper Brian Schwartz not only let her go with a warning, but when he learned Janjua was a doctor, he also gave her a handful of precious N95 respirator masks, which are in dire short supply as healthcare professionals fight the COVID-19 pandemic.  “I burst into tears,” Dr. Janjua, a cardiologist, wrote on her Facebook page.  “I think he teared up a little as well before wishing me well and walking away.”  Dr. Janjua adds: “This complete stranger, who owed me nothing and is more on the front lines than I am, shared his precious masks with me, without my even asking.  The veil of civilization may be thin, but not all that lies behind it is savage. We are going to be OK.”

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved. 



olli0815/iStock(NEW YORK) -- Toilet paper isn't the only item that people are hoarding during the current COVID-19 pandemic. Now they are buying up all the baby chicks. 

"People are panic-buying chickens like they did toilet paper," Tom Watkins, the vice president of Murray McMurray Hatchery in Iowa, told The New York Times

According to the article, it's normal for chick sales go up during stock market downturns and in presidential election years, but the shortage right now comes from an extreme increase in demand. 

Amy Annelle, a 48-year-old musician from Austin, Texas, shared that she purchased a rooster and four hens because "it just seems like having a steady food source is a good idea right now."

Spider-Man actor Tom Holland had the same thought as well. 

"With everything that's going on the supermarkets are all empty there's no eggs we have no eggs," he shared in an Instagram story. "So we thought to solve that problem we would become the source of eggs, so now we are the owners of chickens."

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.



Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic(LONDON) -- Split star James McAvoy has donated over $340,000 to “Masks for NHS Heroes,” a crowdfunding campaign set up to provide personal protective equipment (PPE) for doctors and hospital staff in London, England, according to The Guardian.

The Scottish also actor posted a video message to his Instagram account, saying in part, “Money donated today will save lives…Help us to help the government to help the NHS.” He also included a link to “Masks for NHS Heroes.”

As of Sunday night, the campaign, the goal of which was to raise nearly 250,000 U.S. dollars, has already shattered the $1 million mark.

One of the medics behind the project, Dr. Salaj Masand, tells the newspaper, “We are overwhelmed and speechless at the trust and faith people have put into us to deliver this. The number of very generous donations from everyone doubled our target within three days.”

Masand says McAvoy’s “mindblowing” donation means an order for 75,000 masks and 75,000 visors can be placed immediately, rather than having to wait for enough donations to filter through.

There are currently more than 19,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 In the U.K.  At least 1,228 people who have tested positive for the virus have died.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved. 



iStock/farosofa(NEW YORK) -- As the global number of COVID-19 infections stand at 723,700 -- with 34,018 reported deaths -- as of Sunday, American health officials confirmed that the U.S. death toll has surpassed 2,000.

On Sunday, it was reported that there have been 2,514 deaths in the country as the amount of cases rises to 143,025.

In New York, the state reported that there are 59,513 diagnosed cases as the death toll is slowly closing upon 1,000.  Currently, there are 776 deaths.  In New York City, the number of confirmed cases are 32,308 with 678 deaths.

Globally, it's estimated that 140,000 people have recovered.

Due to New York's status as the "epicenter" of the U.S. outbreak, politicians floated the possibility of enacting quarantines.  President Donald Trump earlier on Sunday scaled back his proposal for an enforceable quarantine in the Tristate area -- New York, Connecticut, and New Jersey.  

However, the president did caution the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to enforce a travel advisory, which can be "administered by the Governors, in consultation with the Federal Government."

Following the president's guidance, the CDC declared, "Due to extensive community transmission of COVID -19 in the area, CDC urges residents of New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut to refrain from non-essential domestic travel for 14 days effective immediately. This Domestic Travel Advisory does not apply to employees of critical infrastructure industries, including but not limited to trucking, public health professionals, financial services, and food supply."

However, all three Democratic governors lambasted the call, saying it is more of a lockdown than a quarantine.  New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said such an action would be "illegal."

Despite that, surrounding states are stationing National Guard troops and police at their respective borders following reports that residents of New York are moving into their summer homes along shoreline and lake areas, as stated by Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo.  

Raimondo enacted a 14-day quarantine upon all New Yorkers arriving in the state, a decision she reversed Sunday following threat of a lawsuit by Governor Cuomo. 

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.



Photo by Dominique Charriau/WireImage(LOS ANGELES) -- Life has unfortunately imitated art for cast of the 2011 film Contagion, which has seen an uptick in streaming since the real-life COVID-19 coronavirus began spreading.

That's why scientists from the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health tapped the stars of the film --  Matt Damon, Laurence Fishburne, and Kate Winslet -- to dispense some real-life advice on how to fight the disease.

"In the movie, I played a guy who was immune to the hypothetical virus that was spreading around the world," Damon says.  "That was a movie. This is real life."

"I have no reason to believe I’m immune to COVID-19 and neither do you, no matter how young you are," he adds. "This is a new virus. It’s gonna take some time for our bodies and our doctors to understand it and understand new ways to protect us."

Damon was joined by fellow Oscar-winner Kate Winslet, who played an epidemiologist in the film.

"To prepare for the role, I spent time with some of the best public health professionals in the world," she says.  "And what was one of the most important things they taught me? Wash your hands like your life depends on it because right now, in particular, it just might."

Touting the importance of social distancing, Damon also said, "We can all do this together just by staying apart. Please do your part."

Similarly, Fishburne talked about the danger of the traditional handshake, noting it was based on showing someone you weren't carrying a weapon.

"Now we may be carrying one, and not even know it," he intoned.

Dr. Ian Lipkin, the director of Columbia University’s Center for Infection and Immunity -- who was a consultant on the film -- revealed this week that he had tested positive for COVID-19.

 

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.



iStock/Bychykhin_Olexandr(NEW YORK) -- While April 1 usually sees Google users the world over wondering if the company is really creating Google Translate for Animals or launching treasure hunts on Google Maps, the fun's over this year. 

Business Insider reports that the search giant is rushing to cancel its plans for April Fools' Day this year due to COVID-19.

"Under normal circumstances, April Fools' is a Google tradition and a time to celebrate what makes us an unconventional company," an email from Google marketing boss Lorraine Twohill reads, according to Business Insider.

"This year, we're going to take the year off from that tradition out of respect for all those fighting the COVID-19 pandemic."

Twohill also said, "Our highest goal right now is to be helpful to people, so let's save the jokes for next April, which will undoubtedly be a whole lot brighter than this one."

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.



iStock/fizkes(LOS ANGELES) -- While millions are out of work because of lockdowns, shutdowns, and other results from the COVID-19 pandemic, LinkedIn is looking into hiring trends overseas to try to predict what could happen on our shores. The site has also posted a list of the most in-demand positions right now, along with a list of who's hiring.

By looking at where the pandemic struck first, China, LinkedIn notes that the U.S. could expect to see a hiring downturn, "followed by a slow, but steady rebound as economies return to 'business as usual.'"

With no further ado, here's LinkedIn's list of in-demand jobs, and who's looking to get Americans back to work: 

Store Associate
System Operator
Certified Public Accountant
Healthcare Specialist
Construction Worker
Warehouse Manager
Psychologist
Vehicle Mechanic
Academic Advisor
Delivery Driver

Companies with the most open jobs:

7-Eleven
Army National Guard
KPMG
Amazon
Genentech
Lowe’s
HCA Healthcare
Intuit
Nepris
Whole Foods

LinkedIn also learned that certain companies are stepping up hiring to meet demand in these times, like as grocery chains and delivery services like Kroger, Walmart, Amazon, and CVS.  They've all signaled they want to put hundreds of thousands of people to work right away.

For example:

CVS: Hiring 50,000 workers to meet exploding demand at its stores.
Pizza Hut: 30,000 permanent workers
Walmart: about 150,000 temporary workers by the end of May 
Dollar Tree, which also owns Family Dollar, plans to hire 25,000 workers.
7-Eleven: 20,000 new store employees.
Amazon: 100,000 workers.
Domino's: more than 10,000 workers.

As expected, the medical community is looking for as many health care providers as possible. New York City has even asked private and retired providers to help in hospitals. "More than 1,000 answered the call," the website noted. 

 

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.



Bobby Quillard(NEW YORK) -- With the spread of COVID-19 coronavirus and the implementation of social distancing rules, the world has seen events both big and small either postponed or scrapped completely.

Celebrity event designer Edward Perotti gives ABC Audio an update on how the event industry is faring, as well as advice for how to deal with changing plans in these strange times.

If you’re a bride or groom to be, Perotti's advice is firm yet realistic: move the date.  “Just rip the Band-Aid off and realize that between April and May, if your wedding was planned, it's not going to happen," he says. "Horrible thing to say, but it's not going to. June is even pushing it.”

"Part of your vow will say 'for better or worse,'" he adds. "OK, you're navigating the worst. It could only get better!"

If you’re looking for ways to connect with family for occasions or holidays, Perotti says try doing it virtually.

“Why not do a virtual dinner party?” he suggests. “Why can't you take your monitor, put it on your dining table, set the table, share recipes so everybody can actually make the same meal and sit around on-camera as if you were sitting around the dining table?”

But most importantly, he wants everyone to not automatically think, “cancel" when it comes to their events. “I would rather them think, ‘postpone,’” he says.

Perotti -- who's created events for Ariana Grande, Nick Jonas and more -- envisions the industry bouncing back when this is all over, because he believes there are just some things that can’t be replaced with a monitor.

“I'm hoping that people appreciate any gathering that they go to because as we're learning quickly, it could be taken away,” he says.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.



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