June 1, 2020

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Meals Program Schedule Through May 15; 7 Deaths Reported in St. Mary’s

Reopen

St. Mary’s County Public Schools will provide a drive-up lunch service Monday-Friday from April 27 to May 15, 2020, at the locations listed below from 11:30 am to 12:30 pm daily.

Meals will be offered to all children 18 and younger free of charge. Parents and children can drive up to these locations and receive meals that they can take home during current school closures.

Leonardtown Elementary School
22885 Duke Street
Leonardtown, MD

Greenview Knolls Elementary School
45711 Military Lane
Great Mills, MD

Margaret Brent Middle School
29675 Point Lookout Road
Mechanicsville, MD

Lexington Park Elementary School
46763 Shangri-La Drive
Lexington Park, MD

For questions regarding the lunch service program, email foodservice@smcps.org.

St. Mary’s Caring Soup Kitchen at 20850 Langley Road in Lexington Park is distributing take-and-go meals between 10:30 am and 1 pm Monday-Saturday. One meal per person will be given out.

The soup kitchen also has bagged lunch distribution sites on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, with a Pop-Up Pantry on Wednesdays between 11 am and 12:30 pm in the parking lot at the following locations:

  • Ridge — Dollar General, 13270 Point Lookout Road
  • Piney Point — Chief’s Restaurant, 44584 Tall Timbers Road
  • Charlotte Hall — April’s Pools, corner of routes 5 and 6
  • Bushwood — Sacred Heart Catholic Church, 23080 Maddox Road

For more information on the St. Mary’s Caring program, call 301-863-5700.

The St. Mary’s Department of Social Services has launched a local food hotline for residents needing assistance with food supply. Call 240-895-7000.

For additional community resources, go to the St. Mary’s County Government Community Resource map.

 

Here are some answers to frequently asked questions about the Maryland stay-at-home order. (Updated April 21)

 

Updated Statistics Monday, May 4

The Maryland Department of Health website, as of 10 am Monday, May 4, reports the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Maryland is at 26,408, up from 25,462 on Sunday.

All data provided by the state health department is preliminary and is subject to change based on additional reporting. Information for cases by ZIP code and cases and deaths by race represent data that is available to MDH. Data for ZIP codes with 7 or fewer cases is suppressed. MDH is continuously evaluating its data and reporting systems and will make updates as more data becomes available. Click here.

Reported cases in Southern Maryland: 165 in St. Mary’s County, 171 in Calvert County, and 651 in Charles County.

The St. Mary’s County Health Department offered this information as of 11 am Monday, May 4:

Confirmed Cases in St. Mary’s County Residents: 165
Deaths: 7
Negative Test Results: 937* (as of April 23)
Hospitalizations: 34**
Recovered & Released from Isolation: 73

Male: 84
Female: 80
Data Unavailable/Not Identified: 1

Case Breakdown by Race:
African-American/Black: 65
Caucasian/White: 76
Other or Not Identified: 24

**Additional laboratories now reporting results electronically through the National Electronic Data Surveillance System – Data from January 1, 2020 – present.

**Number of St. Mary’s County residents who have been hospitalized at any hospital in Maryland due to COVID-19. Data is not reflective of current patient status.

St. Mary’s data will be updated at least daily by noon at the county health department’s website linked to above.

 

The Maryland Department of Health offered this statewide information as of 11 am Monday, May 4:

Confirmed Cases in Maryland: 26,408
Negative Test Results: 110,587
Number of Deaths: 1,216
Number of Probable Deaths: 101
Current Hospitalized: 1,649
Acute Care: 1,086
Intensive Care: 563
Ever Hospitalized: 5,199
Released from Isolation: 1,695
Male: 12,472
Female: 13,936

Maryland residents can now see the number of cases by ZIP code. Click on the state’s website linked to above.

FAQs: For answers to frequently asked questions about Gov. Larry Hogan’s order for face masks and coverings, click here.

 

Countywide Kindergarten Registration on Hold

State Superintendent Dr. Karen Salmon has announced that Maryland public schools will be closed through May 15, 2020. In the interest of public health and safety, at this time, kindergarten registration for the 2020-2021 school year is on hold.

When the governor’s executive order allows schools and offices to reopen, there will be a follow up press release noting the dates, times, etc., that parents can go to their home school office to register.  Additional information will be available at a later date.

 

ICYMI

APRIL 20 UPDATES

County Offers Telehealth Resource Guide

Here are behavioral health providers in St. Mary’s County:

Center for Children mental health services for children and families including psychiatric assessment, medication management and family counseling.

301-475-8860; https://center-for-children.org

Pathways mental health services for adults and adolescents including psychiatric assessment, medication management, supportive employment and therapeutic counseling.

301-373-3065; https://www.pathwaysinc.org

Project Chesapeake substance abuse treatment and recovery support services for adults.

240-309-4015; https://www.projectchesapeake.com

Pyramid Walden substance abuse treatment, mental health and recovery support services for adults.

301-997-1300; https://www.pyramidwalden.com

Southern Maryland Community Network mental health services for adults and children including psychiatric rehabilitation programs, case management, supportive employment and in-home intervention program.

301-475-9315; http://www.somdnetwork.org

Vesta Inc. mental health services for adults including psychiatric assessment, therapy, counseling, and medication management.

301-863-4543; http://www.vesta.org

 

Free WiFi for St. Mary’s Students

Free WiFi access is now available to all students and staff in the parking lots of nine St. Mary’s County schools. Access is restricted to people with an official SMCPS email address.

The SMCPS Department of Information Technology Services evaluated several alternatives and determined that an extension of the existing SMCPS network signal to school parking lots provided the best short- and long-term value. SMCPS reallocated existing technology funds from the fiscal 2020 operating budget to prioritize internet access for students and staff.

Schools with parking lot WiFi signals are:

  • Ridge Elementary
  • George Washington Carver Elementary
  • Great Mills High
  • Leonardtown High
  • Dr. James A. Forrest Career and Technology Center
  • Evergreen Elementary
  • Dynard Elementary
  • Chopticon High
  • Lettie Marshall Dent Elementary

SMCPS chose the above locations as a way to support students across St. Mary’s County. Efforts are underway to seek grant funding to extend this service to all SMCPS schools. The parking lot WiFi access is provided through a permanent connection to the existing SMCPS network which will remain accessible throughout and following this public health crisis.

Students and staff can park in the bus loops, front, and side parking lots of the above-listed schools, remain in their cars, and complete essential work on the internet. At Lettie Marshall Dent Elementary, a WiFi signal is available in both the front and rear parking lots. The hotspots will operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Accessing the SMCPS network through this connection provides all the access and restrictions as connecting from within the building.

Individuals may need to experiment with parking lot location to achieve the best signal strength for their particular device. SMCPS ITS staff continue to optimize this WiFi access for signal coverage and device type.

SMCPS uses video surveillance to monitor parking lots and the exteriors of all school buildings. The St. Mary’s County Sheriff’s Office will periodically patrol the areas around schools. Schools are closed to the public, but critical staff members are still working.

Directions to access the hotspot:

  • Pull into the school parking lot
  • Open your WiFi connection or network connection screen
  • Look for the network name “smcpsConnect”
  • Login using your SMCPS network credentials
  • Additional direction for logging into the network can be found at www.smcps.org/dci/online

 

APRIL 16 UPDATES

Hogan Plans Gradual Rollout of Recovery Phase Amid ‘Very Real Reasons for Hope and Optimism’

Gov. Larry Hogan announced Wednesday at the news conference that Maryland is now in a position to plan the gradual rollout of the state’s recovery phase amid “very real reasons for hope and optimism,” laying out four building blocks for a recovery plan:

  • Expanding testing capacity
  • Increasing hospital surge capacity
  • Ramping up supply of PPE
  • Building a robust contact tracing operation

“Fortunately, because of the early and aggressive actions and because of the extraordinary sacrifices of Marylanders, we are now in a position to move from containment and mitigation to planning the gradual rollout of our recovery phase,” Gov. Hogan said. “There are some very real reasons for hope and optimism right now and there is clearly a light at the end of this tunnel, but exactly how and when we will get to that light is going to be up to each and every one of us. Right now while our numbers are still climbing and we are still heading up that curve, not down, it is absolutely critical for Marylanders to stay home, to continue avoiding crowds and gatherings, and to aggressively practice social distancing.”

Gov. Hogan also announced an executive order which requires the wearing of face coverings when inside any retail establishments or when riding any form of public transportation in Maryland. St. Mary’s had already begun that practice on Wednesday.

The state order also requires all retail locations to require staff to wear face coverings and requires those businesses to put appropriate social distancing measures in place. To give retailers time to make these adjustments, the order went into effect April 18. The CDC has issued detailed guidance and instructions regarding homemade cloth face coverings which can be found at coronavirus.maryland.gov.

Read more here.

 

New Unemployment Insurance Filing Instructions

Effective April 1, 2020, claimants are encouraged to file according to a new system, which has been designed to make the process easier for claimants.

To file an initial regular unemployment claim online or through our call centers, please file your claim according to your last name as detailed below:

  • If your last name starts with A-F, file your claim on a Monday.
  • If your last name starts with G-N, file your claim on a Tuesday.
  • If your last name starts with O-Z, file your claim on a Wednesday.

Filing is open to all by phone on Thursdays and Fridays; online on all Thursdays through Sundays.

Filing later in a week will not delay your payments or affect the date of your claim.

Claimants are strongly encouraged to utilize the online NetClaims application to file claims. This online application is available 24/7. It is strongly encouraged to file during non-peak hours (8 pm – 7 am) for faster processing.

Claim center telephone hours have been further extended and open from 7 am to 6 pm, Monday through Friday. To contact a center, call 410-949-0022.

Claims may only be filed by phone or online, not by email.

If someone is having difficulty placing a call or accessing the website, he or she can email ui.inquiry@maryland.gov. Employers can email dluiemployerassistance-labor@maryland.gov or contact 410-767-2412.

For more information on COVID-19 business resources in St. Mary’s County, visit the county’s resource center at www.yesstmarysmd.com.

 

Department of Aging & Human Services Event Updates

Law Day, originally scheduled for Friday, May 1, at all three senior activity centers (Garvey, Loffler, and Northern), has been canceled. Individuals already registered for this event to meet with a lawyer and fill out an Advance Health Care form will be contacted by phone.

The 20th annual Law Enforcement Appreciation Day, initially scheduled for Tuesday, May 12, has been rescheduled. This event will now take place Tuesday, Aug. 11, at 11 am at the 5 South Event Center in Callaway. The Department of Aging & Human Services appreciates the public’s understanding during this time and looks forward to honoring the Officers of the Year and local law enforcement agencies in the summer.

For more information, contact Sarah Miller at 301-475-4200, ext. 71073, or at sarah.miller@stmarysmd.com.

 

Countywide Prekindergarten, Head Start Applications on hold

State Superintendent Dr. Karen Salmon has announced that Maryland public schools will be closed through April 24, 2020. In the interest of public health and safety, at this time, the 2020-2021 Prekindergarten/Head Start application is on hold and the process will be delayed.

When the governor’s executive order allows schools and offices to reopen, there will be a follow up press release noting the dates, times, etc., that parents can go to their home school office to apply. Additional information will be communicated at a later date.

 

APRIL 14 UPDATES

Health Officer: Face Coverings a Must in Stores, on Public Transportation

St. Mary’s County Health Officer Dr. Meenakshi Brewster has ordered that customers wear face coverings in grocery stores, farmers markets, pharmacies, retail establishments, and public transportation. Cloth face coverings or other masks will be acceptable. The directive will be effective April 15.

Retail stores will be required to establish capacity limits on the number of patrons in the facility at a given time, and queues outside that promote social distancing spaces for the customers that are waiting to enter the store.

For a list of measures to be implemented to ensure consumer and employee safety, click here. The health department answers FAQs here.

 

St. Mary’s Health Department Answers FAQs About Food Safety and COVID-19

Is the St. Mary’s County Health Department still doing health inspections of local food service facilities?

The answer is yes.

“Our Environmental Health services (e.g., food safety inspections, community complaints, septic, rabies, etc.) will continue to operate, though no client walk-in service is available at the office. Our Food Safety Program will continue to monitor food service facilities to ensure food safety standards are being met. Inspectors evaluate critical food safety measures that are most likely to contribute to food-borne illness. During the COVID19 pandemic, our Food Safety team has also communicated recommendations on disinfection practices, social distancing and employee sick leave policy with local food service facilities,” reads the department’s website.

Click here to view more questions and answers.

 

Hogan Institutes Budget, Hiring Freeze Across State Government

Gov. Larry Hogan has said that the state is instituting a budget and hiring freeze amid estimates that Maryland is facing a projected $2.8 billion shortfall due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The governor also announced that he has directed the Maryland Department of Labor to take steps to bolster the state’s unemployment insurance process to handle an unprecedented surge in claims.

Go to mdunemployment.com for more information.

 

APRIL 10 UPDATES

Maryland Secretary of State, Attorney General Warn of Possible Charity Scams

The Federal Trade Commission has reported that scammers are taking advantage of fears surrounding the coronavirus, including through the sale of counterfeit products and the solicitation of money and personal information. When charities request donations in response to the coronavirus, Marylanders may feel duty-bound to donate in an effort to help their neighbors.

Maryland’s Secretary of State John C. Wobensmith and Maryland Attorney General Brian E. Frosh are cautioning Marylanders to be vigilant and to donate wisely.

“During uncertain times, con artists prey on your generosity and create scams, frauds or deceptive acts to line their own pockets,” warns Secretary Wobensmith. “Be sure you know who you are giving to, and remember it is always best to give directly to well-established, reputable charitable organizations.”

The Office of the Secretary of State registers and regulates charitable organizations that solicit charitable contributions in Maryland. Together with the Attorney General’s Office, the Secretary of State’s Office works to ensure that charitable contributions go to qualified charitable organizations and are used for their intended purpose.

For more tips on how to give wisely, Marylanders can visit the Maryland Attorney General’s Office, Consumer Protection Division publication Consumer’s Edge Charitable Giving Tips.

The Office of the Secretary of State maintains a public registry of charitable organizations authorized to solicit in Maryland. For more information, visit the Secretary of State’s charities database.

If you think that you have been a victim of a deceptive or illegal charitable solicitation, call 410-974-5521 or 1-800-825-4510.

 

APRIL 8 UPDATES

St. Mary’s County COVID-19 Call Center Operational Changes

Due to diminished need, as evidenced by reduced call volume, the St. Mary’s County Coronavirus Call Center will eliminate Saturday hours beginning Saturday, April 11. The call center will resume normal weekday hours Monday through Friday from 8 am to 5 pm beginning Monday, April 13.

The call center was opened March 12 in response to community demand for further information and questions regarding the rapidly evolving virus. Community members should still consult with their primary care physician with personal health questions; however, for general questions about COVID-19, residents may call the hotline at 301-475-4911.

Language line interpretation services are available during all hotline operational hours for Spanish and other languages, including Punjabi, French, Arabic, Mandarin, Neali, and more.

 

Transit System Implements Service Reductions

To mitigate the spread of COVID-19, please use public transit for essential travel only. Essential travel means taking trips to work, hospitals, health care providers, pharmacies, grocery stores, banks, food distribution centers, schools, to provide care for family members, and other similar destinations. By reducing unnecessary travel, transit becomes safer for those who depend on it, especially essential health care workers, and for those who operate it.

St. Mary’s County Transit System has enacted enhanced daily wipe-down of buses and paratransit vehicles; and disinfecting areas with high passenger touchpoints.

Effective, April 6, to more efficiently deploy resources to core bus service, STS will temporarily discontinue the following bus routes: Rt. 3, Rt. 6, Rt. 14, Rt. 7 on Saturdays. Riders needing assistance with trip planning can contact the STS Transit Information Contact Center from 6 am to 6 pm Monday through Friday at 301-475-4200, ext. 1120 or 1121.

Service Status

St. Mary’s County STS Bus System will implement **New** service reductions on all parts of the STS System modes effective Monday, April 6, 2020.
Local Fixed Route Bus – to minimize operator contact, passenger must place fare or ticket in the fare box or show their monthly pass or daily pass while boarding the bus.

No more than 9 passengers are allowed on the bus at a time. Additional riders must wait until the following hour to ride the bus. First responders and medical service workers will be given priority boarding.

Monday through Friday STS will follow these supplemental schedules:
Rt. 7 Southern Route – Every hour, 6 am to 6:45 pm
Rt. 11 Great Mills/California Route – Every hour, 6 am to 7 pm
Rt. 12 Leonardtown Route NB/SB – Every hour, 6 am to 7 pm

Saturday STS will follow these supplemental schedules:

Rt. 11 Great Mills/California Route – Every hour, 6 am to 7 pm
Rt. 12 Leonardtown Route NB/SB – Every hour, 6 am to 7 pm

Sunday Service
No Service on Sunday, April 12, 2020, in observance of the Easter Holiday.

Sunday schedule starting April 19, 2020:

Rt. 11 Great Mills/California Route – 6 am to 7 pm
Rt. 12 Leonardtown – 6 am to 7 pm

Call the STS dispatcher at 301-475-4200, ext. 71120, with questions.

 

APRIL 8 UPDATES

St. Mary’s County Health Officer Dr. Meenakshi Brewster offers a reminder to local retail establishments on the importance of social distancing requirements. Read her open letter to the community here.

 

New Hours for St. Mary’s County Drive-Thru COVID-19 Testing

Beginning April 9, the hours for drive-thru testing for COVID-19 at MedStar St. Mary’s Hospital will change to noon to 2 pm. Testing will continue to be available Monday through Friday and is offered in front of the Outpatient Pavilion.

Individuals who are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms (including cough, fever, and shortness of breath) should call their primary health care provider or call ahead to a local urgent care or the hospital’s Emergency Department. Anyone who is experiencing a medical emergency, should call 9-1-1.

Community members may call the COVID-19 Community Hotline at 301-475-4911 for COVID-19 information. Health department nurses are available through the hotline to discuss concerns and assist in coordinating testing for those who do not have a primary care provider.

In order to be tested in the drive-thru, individuals must:

  • Be a St. Mary’s County resident
  • Have a prescription for testing from a primary care provider or the St. Mary’s County Health Department
  • Present a valid photo ID
  • Remain in their vehicle and an associate will come out to them

Please only consider testing if you have symptoms and think you may have been exposed to COVID-19.

Community members, health care providers, and local business owners are encouraged to visit the St. Mary’s County Health Department’s website for local COVID-19 updates and information at www.smchd.org/coronavirus.

 

Governor Activates Statewide Strike Teams for Nursing Homes, Enacts Order to Shut Down Unsafe Facilities

On Tuesday, Gov. Larry Hogan toured the state’s field hospital site at the Baltimore Convention Center, where he announced additional actions to slow the spread of COVID-19. Actions the governor announced April 7 include:

  • New strike teams to help nursing home facilities in need of additional support
  • A new executive order empowering local health departments to shut down any business, establishment, or construction site it deems unsafe
  • The release of additional demographic breakdowns of Maryland case data, including hospitalization rates and mortality
  • The governor also announced that the White House and federal officials have now designated the Baltimore-Washington corridor as an emerging hotspot. This includes Baltimore City and Baltimore County, as well as Anne Arundel, Calvert, Carroll, Charles, Frederick, Harford, Howard, Montgomery, Prince George’s, and Queen Anne’s counties.

 

APRIL 7 UPDATES

Local Resource Guide Developed on Telehealth Options for Behavioral Health Support

The COVID-19 pandemic may cause strong feelings of fear, anxiety, sadness, and uncertainty in our community. Older people, people with chronic illnesses, youth, health care workers, and first responders, and people with mental health conditions may be particularly impacted by the stress of the pandemic.

The St. Mary’s County Health Department has created a Telehealth Resource Guide to provide information on local behavioral health resources (mental health, substance use, and crisis services) that are providing support through phone or video during this pandemic. Reaching out for help may provide relief and tools to cope during this stressful time. Individuals with pre-existing mental health conditions should continue with their treatment plans and monitor for any new or worsening symptoms.

For local COVID-19 updates and resources, visit www.smchd.org/coronavirus – click on Mental Health, Substance Use & Crisis Support for more information.

Crisis Resources

The Southern Maryland Center for Family Advocacy

Free legal advocacy, case management, crisis management, and emergency shelter services for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault in St. Mary’s County.

Maryland’s Helpline

Available 24 hours/7 days a week to callers in need of crisis intervention, risk assessment for suicide, homicide or overdose prevention, support, guidance, and information or linkage to community behavioral health providers.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

Available 24 hours/7 days a week and provides free and confidential support for people in distress and crisis. Online chat feature and language services available.

 

APRIL 6 UPDATES

Police Urge Voluntary Compliance of Faith Community

Maryland State Police Superintendent Col. Woodrow Jones III is urging the faith community to be informed and to comply with the order as it applies to holding services.

“Maryland’s law enforcement officers are dedicated to helping keep our citizens as safe as possible and are working diligently around the state to ensure the Governor’s Executive Order is complied with,” Col. Jones said. “My hope is that our faith community leaders recognize the importance of the safety measures that have been implemented and will not risk the health of their congregations by holding services in a way that violates the regulations put in place during this emergency. Technology provides us all with unique alternatives that I hope will be implemented as a necessary and important option until it is safe to once again gather to worship in the way you choose to.”

The executive order prohibits groups of more than 10 people from assembling and those groups of 10 or less must maintain social distancing of at least six feet between individuals. Churches, synagogues, and mosques have been included in the list of non-essential businesses that are required to close their normal operations.

Some minimal operations at a religious facility can continue:

Drive-In Religious Services: Churches, synagogues, mosques, temples, and other similar religious facilities of any faith (“religious facilities”) may conduct drive-in services, where participants gather in their vehicles near the religious facility and participate in the service together by remote means, subject to the following requirements, which are intended to protect public health, safety, and welfare:

Participants may leave their homes to travel by vehicle to and from the religious facility, and must remain in their vehicle at all times.

No vehicle may contain more than 10 persons.

Participants may not interact physically with clergy, staff, or participants in other vehicles. This includes, but is not limited to, collecting donations by basket or plate.

Limited In-Person Services: Clergy may conduct limited in-person services at their respective religious facilities, and participants may leave their homes to travel to and from the religious facility for such services, subject to the following requirements, which are intended to protect public health, safety, and welfare:

No more than 10 persons, including clergy, staff and participants, may be present inside the religious facility during the service.

Participants may not interact physically with clergy, staff, or participants. This includes, but is not limited to, collecting donations by basket or plate.

Participants, clergy, and staff must be at least six feet apart from one another at all times, except for participants that are part of the same household; and comply with all applicable guidance from the CDC and MDH regarding social distancing.

There must be at least a four hour gap between the end of one in-person service and the beginning of the next in-person service. The religious facility should be cleaned between services, in accordance with CDC cleaning and disinfection guidance.

Minimal Operations at Religious Facilities: Clergy and other staff of religious facilities are permitted to continue conducting minimal operations, provided that they comply with all applicable guidance from the CDC and MDH regarding social distancing. In the case of religious facilities, the term “minimal operations” includes, but is not necessarily limited to, facilitating remote services.

 

Here are some answers to frequently asked questions about the Maryland stay-at-home order. (Updated April 21)

 

APRIL 3 UPDATES

Survey for Local Health Care Workers – Workforce Reserve for COVID-19

In an effort to prepare the health care workforce and optimize resources at the local level for COVID-19 response, the St. Mary’s County Health Department is issuing a survey to health care workers in order to establish reserve capacity. This effort will help identify those workers who may be able to assist with the frontlines of this pandemic.

SMCHD asks any licensed or previously licensed health care worker who may be willing to volunteer or work above and beyond their current employment (whether you are unemployed, retired, or you are currently working and could possibly work additional hours) to complete the following survey as soon as possible.
www.surveymonkey.com/r/SMC-reserve

Consider lending support for fellow frontline health care workers needing respite by helping to build local reserve capacity. The willingness of health care workers to serve the community in this crisis demonstrates their commitment to the health of residents and to one another.

If you have any questions about the survey, email smchd.healthprovider@maryland.gov or call 301-475-4330.

 

Tri-County Youth Services Has 24-Hour Service Line

Tri-County Youth Services Bureau office is closed, but the school and office-based counselors continue to provide services to children, youth, and families, via telehealth portals, either through telephone or video conference. Counseling sessions are confidential, and the counselor is there to help maintain positive mental health during this time.

Those who would like more information, or if they would like to make a referral for services, contact TCYSB Monday through Friday from 9 am to 5 pm at 301-259-1076.

A 24-hour service line is 301-645-1837. That line is open seven days a week, 24 hours a day.

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