Archive for the ‘Health’ Category

Rep. McNerney to host “Conversation on COVID-19 and Health Disparities in the Black Community” with Dr. Bennet Omalu, Friday

Wednesday, February 24th, 2021

Rep. Jerry McNerney (official photo) and Dr. Bennnet Omalu (from Wikipedia).

Famous football brain injury neuropathologist featured in Will Smith movie “Concussion”

As the COVID-19 vaccine rollout moves forward, it is important that we continue to reach out to our diverse communities and make sure everyone has the information and access to protect themselves and their families. Congressman Jerry McNerney (D, CA-09) will hold a conversation on Friday, February 26th from 4:00-5:00 PM to discuss COVID-19 and health disparities in the Black community and how we as a community at large can engage and support one another in the fight against this pandemic. The Congressman will be joined by special guests Dr. Bennet Omalu, Dr. Kim Rhoads, Dr. Otashe Golden, and Stockton Branch NAACP President Bobby Bivens.

Dr. Omalu is the forensic pathologist and neuropathologist who was first to discover and publish findings on brain damage caused by repeat head injuries in American football players, labeled chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). He was later appointed chief medical examiner for San Joaquin County, CA, and is a professor at U.C. Davis, department of medical pathology and laboratory medicine. Omalu was the subject of the 2015 movie Concussion, in which actor Will Smith played the role of the doctor.

To join online: 

Passcode: 875675

To join by phone:

(669) 900-6833 

Webinar ID: 881 7693 7313

Passcode: 875675

Participants can join via phone or by using the webinar link above. If you would like to submit a question in advance of the event or share your story, please submit it here.


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Antioch, Walnut Creek among 12 Nor Cal Kaiser hospitals rated best in nation for maternity care

Friday, February 19th, 2021

Included in Newsweek’s “Best Maternity Hospitals 2021” report for providing high-quality care to mothers, babies and families

By Kerri Leedy, PR and Media Relations Manager, Kaiser Permanente Northern California 

Kaiser Permanente Northern California hospitals are among the top hospitals in the nation for excellence in maternity care, according to Newsweek magazine’s “Best Maternity Hospitals 2021” report.

Twelve Northern California Medical Centers earned top marks for providing safe, high-quality care to moms and their new babies. This is the second consecutive year Kaiser Permanente Northern California hospitals have been recognized for meeting rigorous standards for maternity care, including low C-section rates, elective early deliveries and for following important protocols to safely protect new moms and their babies. Last year, 43,534 babies were delivered at Kaiser Permanente Northern California hospitals.

The following Kaiser Permanente hospitals received the “Best Maternity Hospitals 2021” designation: Antioch, Walnut Creek, Modesto, Redwood City, Roseville, San Francisco, San Jose, Santa Clara, Santa Rosa, South Sacramento, Vacaville, Vallejo and.

The national designation, awarded to only 217 hospitals in the United States, and only 34 in California, identifies leading maternity care programs that have met or exceeded rigorous quality and safety standards. Kaiser Permanente has a total of 20 hospitals that received the elite designation, representing nearly 10% of those named to the prestigious list — and nearly 60% of those listed in California.

“This recognition acknowledges our commitment to exceeding the standards for excellence in maternity care as we keep our patients healthy and safe while delivering personalized care,” said Carrie Owen Plietz, FACHE, president of Kaiser Permanente’s Northern California region. “Our highly skilled care teams and integrated care delivery system allow us to provide the best experience and outcomes for new parents and their babies.”

“Our care teams put moms’ and babies’ well-being at the center of every decision we make, ensuring they are provided with the safest care possible,” said Richard S. Isaacs, MD, CEO and executive director of The Permanente Medical Group. “We are proud of this recognition and the commitment by our physicians and staff who help ensure that our parents and their babies receive the highest standard in maternity care.”

Kaiser Permanente Northern California hospitals have been a leader in providing innovative approaches to maternal care, including our Supporting Vaginal Birth Program that resulted in marked decreases in cesarean birth for first-time moms, and the Enhanced Recovery After Surgery Program, which helps new mothers recover more quickly after delivering by cesarean section with enhanced early mobility and improved pain control minimizing the use of narcotics. A focus on breastfeeding is also integral to Kaiser Permanente’s maternity care, which has proven health benefits for both baby and mom.

Newsweek’s Best Maternity Care Hospitals demonstrate the highest performance in the United States as verified by the 2020 Leapfrog Hospital SurveyDesignated hospitals meet Leapfrog’s rigorous standards for excellence in maternity care — including low rates of C-section, episiotomy (an incision to enlarge the vaginal opening for childbirth) and early elective delivery — and follow important protocols to protect moms and babies, among other measures. Additionally, all honored hospitals must have earned either an A, B or not scored on the Fall 2020 Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grade.

For more detail on methodology and a complete list of designated maternity care programs, visit Newsweek’s “Best Maternity Hospitals 2021.”

About Kaiser Permanente

For 75 years, Kaiser Permanente has been committed to shaping the future of health and health care — and helping our members, patients and communities experience more healthy years. We are recognized as one of America’s leading health care providers and not-for-profit health plans. Since July 21, 1945, Kaiser Permanente’s mission has been to provide high-quality, affordable health care services and to improve the health of our members and the communities we serve. We currently serve 12.4 million members in eight states and the District of Columbia. Care for members and patients is focused on their total health and guided by their personal Permanente Medical Group physicians, specialists and team of caregivers. Our expert and caring medical teams are empowered and supported by industry-leading technology advances and tools for health promotion, disease prevention, state-of-the-art care delivery and world-class chronic disease management. Kaiser Permanente is dedicated to care innovations, clinical research, health education and the support of community health.

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Contra Costa extends COVID-19 vaccine eligibility to essential workers

Thursday, February 18th, 2021

Teachers, grocery workers and other frontline essential workers who live in Contra Costa County can now sign up to receive safe, effective COVID-19 vaccine at no cost to them.

Contra Costa Health Services (CCHS) today updated its eligibility policy for COVID-19 vaccine to extend vaccination eligibility to residents who work in the education and childcare sector, food and agriculture workers, and emergency services workers as defined by Phase 1B of California’s vaccination plan.

“We are committed to protecting all of our educators by ensuring they can access the COVID-19 vaccine,” said Diane Burgis, chair of the Contra Costa Board of Supervisors. “It is critical that we prioritize the health and well-being of all the essential workers who have cared for us and our families throughout the pandemic.”

Residents in these groups, as well as county residents who are 65 years and older who have not yet been vaccinated, can sign up to access state and federal sites through MyTurn ( or by calling 1-833-422-4255.

Essential workers and residents 65 years and older can also request immunization appointments through CCHS and join the county waiting list for COVID-19 vaccine. However, due to a temporary reduction in vaccine supply from the state, all appointments at county sites are filled through the next two weeks at least.

People who need to cancel an existing appointment or who received a first dose of vaccine through CCHS and need to make a second-dose appointment should call 1-833-829-2626.

When more appointments do become available, CCHS will continue to prioritize county residents who are 65 or older as well as eligible essential workers, particularly those who live or work in the local communities most heavily affected by the pandemic.

CCHS continues to move forward with a workplace-based outreach effort to immunize essential workers in high-risk jobs in the county’s hardest-hit communities, including food and agriculture workers. Workers at sites selected for the program will be contacted by their employers.

For more information about Contra Costa’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic including information about COVID-19 vaccine eligibility and appointments, visit


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Cancer Support Community SF Bay Area awarded grant from Stanford to address impact of cancer on underserved populations

Thursday, February 18th, 2021

Black cancer patients of Antioch satellite center opened last year will benefit

By Alexandra Rubin, Director of Communications

Walnut Creek-based Cancer Support Community San Francisco Bay Area (CSC) is honored to be awarded a Community Partnership Seed Grant from the Stanford Cancer Institute.

CSC staff, along with CSC board member and Stanford physician, Anjali Sibley, MD, MPH, will conduct a qualitative needs assessment identifying the psychosocial needs of Black cancer patients and their families and barriers to accessing services.

“We are so grateful to the Stanford Cancer Institute for their generosity in making this important work possible,” says Dr. Sibley.

Rob Tufel, MSW, MPH, Chief Executive Officer of Cancer Support Community said, “This project is just part of CSC’s efforts to better meet the needs of cancer patients in underserved communities. Racial health disparities have long been known, but it’s time for everyone working in the cancer community to redouble our efforts to reduce cancer inequities for people of color facing cancer.”

CSC also opened a satellite center in Antioch, last year, at 3505 Lone Tree Way, Suite 3, as part of their ongoing efforts to provide support directly to cancer patients and their families in underserved communities.

The ultimate goal of this project is to use the results to develop programs that better meet the needs of Black cancer patients and their families. This information will also be shared with the community and the CSC network of 39 affiliates across the United States as part of CSC’s efforts to address racial inequities in supportive cancer care.

About Cancer Support Community San Francisco Bay Area

Cancer Support Community provides comprehensive, integrative care – including counseling, support groups, nutrition training, exercise classes, emergency financial assistance, and patient education programs – for people with cancer, their caregivers, and their families. Our evidence-based services enable cancer patients to partner with their medical teams to manage their treatment and recovery most effectively, increase their chances for survival, reduce their chances of recurrence, and provide for the highest possible quality of life. All CSC services are always provided free of charge and are being offered virtually during the pandemic. With services provided at our Walnut Creek center, in local medical centers throughout the Bay Area, and now in Antioch, we serve more than 2,200 people annually. Visit for more information.

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Supervisors chastise DA Becton over outdoor wedding, OK demolishing old admin, county jail buildings

Wednesday, February 10th, 2021

Historic photo of old Contra Costa County jail. Source: Architectural Preservation Foundation of Contra Costa

Architectural Preservation Foundation wants old jail preserved for other uses; Board hears from Budget Justice Coalition on COVID related equity issues; COVID-19 variant draws concern

By Daniel Borsuk

Contra Costa Supervisors Candace Andersen and Karen Mitchoff chastised Contra Costa District Attorney Diana Becton, during the Board’s meeting on Tuesday, for holding her wedding reception in the backyard of her El Sobrante home in August in violation of COVID-19 health protocols.

“I think we give up hope when our top public officials improperly conduct themselves,” District 4 Supervisor Mitchoff of Pleasant Hill said.

“What District Attorney Becton did was wrong.  There were so many events that so many of us had to give up that were important,” Mitchoff later said. “It just needs to be called out.  We cannot sweep it under the rug and act as if this did not happen.”

“I feel very frustrated about the wedding District Attorney Becton had at her home” remarked District 2 Supervisor Andersen of Danville.  “I was very surprised that she would have a party after a wedding, knowing it was in violation of county health codes.”

In her defense, Becton said: “I did everything I believe was in proper guidance with what I thought was allowed.  I realize public officials like myself are held to a higher standard as we should be.”

Becton married Rev. Dr. Alvin C. Bernstine, a fourth-generation preacher and the author of his most recently published book, Hope Us, Lord. (See related article)

Approve Demolition of Old County Administration Building, Old County Jail

Over the concerns of preservationists, supervisors flashed the green light for Contra Costa County Public Works officials to hire a design-build contractor to demolish the old 12-story county administration complex at 651 Pine Street in Martínez and the old county jail across the street from the administration complex so that either a two or three-story office building can be constructed on the site of the old administration building.

In December, the county opened a new four-story, 71,000 square foot Administration Building across the street from old the Pine Street building.

It would cost about $65 million to demolish the old building and then build a two-story building and $75 million to build a three-story office building.  The County plans to provide parking and open public space on the land cleared through demolition.

“Four years ago, we presented over 300 signatures to you for preservation,” said Architectural Preservation Foundation of Contra Costa President Cheryll Grover. “There has been no current relevant community outreach on this issue.”

According to the organization’s website, “In 1989 the entire Contra Costa County ‘Court House Block’ was listed on the National Register of Historic Places, including the 1903 County Jail and the present-day Finance Building.  The National Register described these as classically inspired dignified structures of Vermont granite ‘designed to represent stability and permanence.’”

County officials have shown interest in using the Pine Street site for office space for the Sheriff’s Office, District Attorney’s Office, Public Offender’s Office, Health Services and the Office of Racial Justice and Equality.

Supervisors said because of the old jails building material – concrete to keep prisoners inside along with concerns about the presence of asbestos, made it problematic to renovate the old jail.  Grover said her preservation group did propose alternative proposals to rehabilitate the old jail, but their proposals apparently fell short of the mark as far as meeting County Public Works criteria.

From slide show presentation to CCCBOS 020921.

Hear from Budget Justice Coalition on COVID Related Equity Issues

In other action, the Supervisors heard a presentation from the Contra Costa Budget Justice Coalition and the Bay Area Equity Atlas on COVID Related Equity Issues, to ensure all county residents are treated fairly during recovery from the pandemic.

According to their slide show, “The Contra Costa Budget Justice Coalition advocates for community engagement in the Contra Costa County budgeting process and for a set of values-based budgeting principles that support safe and affordable housing, stable employment with fair wages, sufficient healthy food, essential health care, access to critical social services, and quality early care and education.”

Presenters spoke on the subjects of Disparate COVID Health, Housing, and Economic Impacts, BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Color) Community Challenges and Stabilizing Neighborhoods and Equitable Relief.

They offered proposed solutions and plans of action in response including: “Producing and Maintaining lasting affordable housing”; “Prioritize equity and those most in need – evictions, food, housing, health, essential services”; “Protect and stabilize vulnerable households and workers”; “Connect low-wage workers with economic opportunities”; and “‘Build Back Better’ through equitable investments in a stronger, fairer, more sustainable economy”; among others.

Santa Clara County COVID-19 Variant Draws County Warning

A deadly Coronavirus variant now prevalent in Santa Clara County could surface in Contra Costa County, Contra Costa County Health Department Health Officer Dr. Chris Farnitano informed supervisors.

“Getting a vaccine is still the most important thing one can do to protect oneself,” said Dr. Farnitano upon informing supervisors about the Santa Clara County variant.  So far, 800 patients in Santa Clara County have been stricken with this variant and “there have been a couple of cases of this variant in Contra Costa County,” he said.  “We expect to be more knowledgeable about this variant in the next couple of weeks.”

The Santa Clara County COVID-10 variant is one of a number of Coronavirus strains to have surfaced globally, particularly in Brazil, Nigeria, South Africa and the United Kingdom.

Dr. Farnitano said because Contra Costa County remains in the Purple Tier, at or under 46.2 new infections as it was in late January, school grade levels K to 6 can “bring back students as soon as tomorrow (Wednesday).”  The restart of school for grade levels 7 to 12 will be determined later.

County health officials made the COVID-19 announcements at the same time United States health officials announced Tuesday that the most severe surge of the COVID-19 pandemic in the nation has weakened significantly based on major metrics.  Nationally, newly reported cases have declined 56 percent over the past 30 days.  Hospitalizations have declined 38 percent since January 6.  The seven-day average of COVID-19 tests returning positive declined to 6.93 percent over the past week, the lowest rate since October 31.

Dr. Farnitano announced religious institutions can reopen at 25 percent occupancy, but chanting, singing and the serving of food are prohibited, he said.

Contra Costa Health Services Director Anna Roth also confirmed the county will receive $40 million in stated COVID-19 vaccine distribution funding but, could not provide details.  Last week, there were initial reports the state aid the county would receive would be shared with health organizations Kaiser Permanente and Blue Shield.

County Health Equity Officer Gilbert Salinas said the county’s efforts to equitably distribute the vaccine throughout the county, especially in parts of the county where there are more people of color or economically disadvantaged is gaining traction.  He reported that about 70,000 vaccine shots had been administered to county residents and retailers like Safeway, RiteAid, and WalMart are participating in the administration of vaccine shots.

Allen Payton contributed to this report.


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Contra Costa fire agencies join forces with county Health Service to host vaccination clinics

Tuesday, February 9th, 2021

Along with other agencies gear up for ongoing series of weekly East, South and West County vaccination clinics; Week One sees 1,000 vaccinated at first two clinics

By Steve Hill, Public Information Officer, Contra Costa County Fire Protection District

Fire agencies across Contra Costa County are collaborating to host the first of many new appointment-only public vaccination clinics for eligible county residents. The combined, multi-agency effort leverages fire EMS and support personnel, along with law enforcement and other agencies, to make a positive contribution to vaccine distribution across the county.

The first of the new fire-service-hosted clinics took place in the City of Hercules Feb. 1 and 2. The Hercules clinics will continue to be operated Mondays and Tuesdays, dependent on vaccine availability. Additional clinics will also be hosted weekly in both east and south county locations.

Current plans, which are subject to change, call for vaccine clinics to be held in east county on select Fridays and Saturdays at Los Medanos College in Brentwood. In south county, clinics are currently planned for select Wednesdays and Thursdays at Bishop Ranch in San Ramon.

The initial goal of the fire-hosted clinics is delivery of 500 vaccinations per day, with each designed to be scalable to 1,000 or more doses based on vaccine availability and Contra Costa County Health Services (CCHS) guidance.

Regardless of location, all vaccination clinics across the county are by appointment only; walk-up or drop-in vaccinations are not available. Eligibility is determined by CCHS and criteria can be reviewed, and appointments made on their vaccine website.

“As providers of emergency medical services across the county, our fire agencies are proud to be able to increase vaccine distribution in order to help further protect the communities we serve,” said Deputy Chief Aaron McAlister, fire rescue mutual aid coordinator for the operational area. “This multi-agency collaboration includes fire and law enforcement agencies, Contra Costa Health Services, community organizations and many volunteers.”

For more on eligibility, and to make an appointment online, visit For residents without internet access, the Contra Costa Health Services vaccination call center is available from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily at 1-833-829-2626. Additional COVID-19 information is available at the CCHS multilingual call center at 1-844-729-8410.

Residents are urged not to call 911 or non-emergency dispatch numbers for vaccine clinic information and not to show up without an appointment as this will interfere with the vaccination process and potentially delay immunizations for the entire community.

Participating fire agencies include: Contra Costa County Fire, Crockett-Carquinez Fire, East Contra Costa Fire, El Cerrito Fire, Moraga-Orinda Fire, Pinole Fire, Richmond Fire, Rodeo- Hercules Fire, and San Ramon Valley Fire.

Law enforcement participants include the Contra Costa Sheriff’s Office of Emergency Services and local police departments in Brentwood, Hercules and San Ramon.

In addition to fire and law agencies, Con Fire county ambulance transport Alliance partner AMR is supporting these clinics as are many volunteer organizations. Supporting volunteer groups include Contra Costa County Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT) and the Contra Costa County Medical Reserve Corps (MRC).

In Hercules, Valley Bible Church is making its facilities available as the clinic site there. Los Medanos College is making space available in Brentwood as is Bishop Ranch in San Ramon. These vaccination clinic locations, as well as many others, are listed and selectable in the Contra Costa Health Services online appointment-setting process or by calling the vaccination call center.

About Contra Costa County Fire Protection District (Con Fire) — A recognized fire service leader — Con Fire provides fire and emergency medical services to more than a million people across its 304 square-mile District area, and through mutual aid, in and around the 20 cities and unincorporated communities of Contra Costa County, California. With few exceptions, county emergency ambulance transport services are provided by Con Fire through its unique sub-contractor Alliance model. In 2019, the District responded to nearly 78,000 fire and EMS emergencies and dispatched some 95,000 ambulances, providing expert medical care on more than 74,000 ambulance transports. The District, with 26 fire stations and more than 400 employees, is dedicated to preserving life, property and the environment.

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Letters: Writer says DA Becton is supposed to be an example, shouldn’t have violated COVID-19 restrictions

Monday, February 8th, 2021


An open letter to Contra Costa County District Attorney Diana Becton.

Ms. Becton, have you ever read John Chapter 8 about the woman who was caught doing something wrong? According to the law, she should have been punished.  No, she should have been killed because she went against the law. As a lawyer, a judge, and a manager, you are supposed to be a servant of the law in CCC.  You hold people accountable to the law and you punish them for breaking it.  But who are you to judge them when you put yourself above the law? Do you consider yourself “more privileged?” You are supposed to be an example.

In August 2020, when the governor mandated the county to avoid “gatherings of any size” because of a high health alert for Covid-19, you, nonetheless, disregarded that order and organized an event with 20 – 30 people in attendance.  In addition, you announced your plans to all of your neighbors so they could expect a lot of cars in the neighborhood.  You say, “I had a wedding in my yard that was really based upon the love that we shared.”  Really?  Love?  Not on the “scientific data?” Not on the state regulations? What about the love for a dying person in the hospital and the spouse is forbidden to be at their bedside? Shouldn’t they be allowed in “for love?” Are you the same person whose office is part of a task force cracking down on violators of state and county coronavirus guidelines?  How could you have not known “the rules” for public gatherings?  Really?

You are a violator. And you’re in the wrong profession.  You should step down.  You do not hold the line of integrity this county needs. You have broken trust with the public.  You are living a double standard and NOT living by the oath you took in September 2017.  You deliberately defied the governor’s order.  But the real question is this: Did you knowingly disregard the order because you really don’t believe the coronavirus is truly a serious threat to our society?  Perhaps you really believe that the governor is using Covid as an excuse to “mandate” his agenda for the state. Maybe you really believe that having a wedding reception IS a safe event for everyone who attended.  Maybe you shouldn’t be on the task force representing state and county “guidelines.”

You took an oath and said, “I solemnly swear that I will support the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of California, and that I will faithfully discharge the duties of an attorney and counselor at law to the best of my knowledge and ability.” Your actions prove otherwise, and you now join the ranks of hypocrites with our governor and his co-horts.

As C.S. Lewis once said, “Whenever you find a man who says he does not believe in a real right and wrong, you will find the same man going back on this a moment later. He may break his promise to you, but if you try breaking one to him, he will be complaining, ‘It’s not fair’ before you can say Jack Robinson.”

Laquetta Franz


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Contra Costa DA Becton responds to articles about her wedding in her backyard last summer

Monday, February 8th, 2021

“I did everything I believed was in proper guidance with what I thought was allowed.” – Diana Becton

Won’t say who her new husband is, or provide any details about him or their ceremony

Contra Costa District Attorney Diana Becton. From CCC website.

By Allen Payton

A report by the San Francisco Chronicle and another by Fox News on Sunday, Feb. 7 accused Contra Costa District Attorney Diana Becton of violating COVID-19 orders by hosting a wedding and reception in her back yard, last summer. According to the report, neighbors were informed that “there would be ‘20 to 30’ extra cars parked in the area.”

It turns out that it was Becton’s own wedding and reception “in the backyard of her El Sobrante home on Aug. 1 to celebrate her marriage to her new husband.”

However, while “the event was a small, outdoor wedding and adhered to state and county restrictions, which allowed for outdoor religious and cultural events including weddings, but not receptions or after-parties. Parties that bring together people from numerous households were banned then and still are, according to the state Department of Public Health.”

Becton’s note to neighbors about her wedding. Source is anonymous.

Becton responded Sunday evening with the following post on her campaign Facebook page:

“A news article was published today about my wedding last year. The article highlighted details of my ceremony, which was held outdoors in the backyard with a very close group of family members and friends. I wanted you to hear directly from me before further attention is given to my ceremony.

In advance of my wedding, I called our local health department for guidance to ensure I was abiding by state and local health guidelines. I believed that since this was an outdoor only event that I would be okay as long as proper safety precautions were adhered to. I ensured all my guests had their temperature taken before entering the backyard, everyone wore masks, and were socially distanced throughout the ceremony. While I did serve food after the ceremony, the meals were individually plated and served to each guest. I did everything I believed was in proper guidance with what I thought was allowed. I realize public officials like myself are held to a higher standard, as we should be. We are all being asked to make sacrifices during COVID, and that includes those who serve the public. There were no cases of COVID-19 associated with my wedding.”

No Details About New Husband

Asked for details about her new husband including his name, and for a photo from their wedding, Becton did not respond. Instead, her spokesman Scott Alonso wrote, “DA Becton does not have any further comment per your inquiry to her.”

UPDATE: It was later learned that Becton married a minister, the Rev. Dr. Alvin C. Bernstine. (See related article)

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