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Orleans reports no new Covid-19 cases, while Genesee has 1 more
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 12 August 2020 at 5:09 pm

Orleans County doesn’t have any new confirmed cases of Covid-19 to report today, while Genesee County has one more.

In Genesee, the new case is a person in the 20s from Batavia. The person was on mandatory quarantine prior to testing positive, the Genesee and Orleans County Health Departments reported.

Genesee also has three more people on precautionary quarantine due to travel from restricted states. There are two people from Genesee currently hospitalized due to Covid-19.

In Orleans, there are five more residents on precautionary quarantine due to travel from restricted states.

More from the Genesee and Orleans County Health Departments:

• Communication Survey: We need your help!  Please consider taking a few minutes to complete a survey to measure our Genesee-Orleans (GO Health) Health Departments communication efforts in response to our COVID-19.

Your response is appreciated!  The survey (click here) will be available for your input until August 24.

• Travel Advisory: The following states and territories are on New York’s travel advisory due to high Covid-19 infection rates: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia,  Virgin Islands, and Wisconsin.

People coming to New York from those states need to quarantine for two weeks.

• Traveler Health Form: For all out-of-state travelers from NYS restricted states, whether arriving by land or air, must self-identify by completing a traveler health form or be subject to a $2,000 fine. Click here for the traveler health form.

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Health Department offering free rabies clinics on Aug. 13, Aug. 15
Posted 12 August 2020 at 4:53 pm

Press Release, Genesee and Orleans County Health Departments

The Genesee and Orleans County Health Departments will be hosting free drive-through anti-rabies immunization clinics in August.

The Genesee County clinic will be on Thursday, Aug. 13, from 4 to 7p.m. at the Genesee County Fairgrounds (5056 E Main Street Road, Batavia).

The Orleans County clinic will be on Saturday, Aug. 15, from 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. at the Orleans County Fairgrounds (12690 Route 31, Albion).

Paul Petitt, Public Health Director for the two counties said this is the first time the departments will be offering a drive-through clinic.

“The drive-through style will allow for the health departments to provide a vaccination clinic to our communities, while adhering to the health and safety guidelines during the COVID-19 pandemic,” he said. “This will ensure social distance protocols can be maintained in an organized manner.”

Upon arrival, staff will instruct you to stay in your vehicle and form a single lane to the clinic area. Public health workers will be screening the occupants in each vehicle for COVID-19 symptoms.

County workers will be directing traffic flow. At the veterinarian immunization station, pet owners will be instructed to exit their vehicle and bring their pet(s) out for the veterinarian to vaccinate.

Once directed to do so, animals must be secured on a leash or in separate carriers at the immunization station. Face masks, cloth face coverings, or face shields are required when speaking to staff and when outside of their vehicle at the vaccination table. Please limit 4 animals per vehicle.

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Rare raptors draw bird lovers to Kendall
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 12 August 2020 at 1:21 pm

Pair of Swallow-tailed Kites have been spotted on 272, Creek Road

Photos by Tom Rivers: Josh Ketry, a bird enthusiast from Buffalo, scans the sky for a pair of Swallow-tailed Kites. Those raptors normally are in Florida but are making a rare appearance in New York.

KENDALL – The church parking lot at the Mount Olive Missionary Baptist Church in Kendall has been drawing a crowd of people from all over the state in recent days.

There have been as many as 40 to 50 people in the lot, holding binoculars or peering through telephoto lenses.

Josh Ketry was able to get a photo of one of the birds in flight. He has come to Kendall three of the past four days to observe the Swallow-tailed Kites.

They are chasing a “life bird,” a pair of raptors from down South. Two Swallow-tailed Kites are making a rare appearance in the state. Birding enthusiasts theorize they were knocked off their normal path from the hurricane.

The two raptors have been spotted in Kendall for the past 10 days. But they didn’t become a big draw until Sunday, when birders started sharing on social media and websites that the Swallow-tailed Kites were hanging around Route 272 (the Monroe-Orleans Countyline Road) near the Creek Road intersection.

Josh Ketry, 41, of Buffalo was in Pennsylvania on Sunday on a birding expedition when a friend texted him about the Swallow-tailed Kites in Kendall. Ketry immediately changed course and drove 3 ½ hours to Kendall. He was back Tuesday and again today.

“This is a lifer so I’m chasing it,” he said.

He has been able to photograph the two birds. They are bright white with black on their wings and back. They tend to glide in the air. Ketry said they have been observed eating cicadas and dragonflies while in Kendall.

Ketry started getting into birds about 3 ½ years ago. He enjoyed the outdoors and hiking and wanted to make it more exciting. He set a goal of seeing an owl on a hike. They it became seeing eight different types of owls.

His list has continued to grow and he has made many friends through the hobby.

“It gave me a quest,” he said. “I’m fascinated by them.”

Lisa Scheppke of Queens and Josh Ketry of Buffalo chat in the parking lot of the Mount Olive Missionary Baptist Church in Kendall late this morning. Crowds have been in the church parking lot since Sunday drawing birders from all over the state.

Cornell University has many online resources to help people identify birds, and alert them to rare bird sightings. Click here to see Cornell’s entry on the Swallow-tailed Kite.

The Swallow-tailed Kites have been crowd-pleasers so far. Ketry said hundreds of people have been able to make the sighting. They two have the added draw of flying in a pair, and they haven’t just passed through the area briefly. They have stayed for more than a week, allowing birders to mobilize to try to see them.

Lisa Scheppke, 53, made the trip from Queens in New York City. She has been a birder for about a decade. She will often go a trips with friends to see birds. It is typically a solitary hobby, with long walks through trails and the woods to see the birds.

She reached Kendall last evening but missed the two Swallow-tailed Kites. She was back at 8 this morning. She was feeling discouraged until they made their first appearance of the day at about 10:45 a.m. They tend to be spotted first in the day at 11 a.m.

Stacy Robinson left her home in the Adirondacks at 4:30 this morning to drive to Kendall to see the Swallow-tailed Kites.

“They are a beautiful bird,” she said, holding her binoculars. “This is unusual too because they are a pairing.”

Scheppke, after seeing the Swallow-tailed Kites, said she was likely headed to the Montezuma Wildlife Refuge in Central New York on the way back to NYC.

Stacey Robinson left her home in the Adirondacks at 4:30 this morning and arrived in Kendall at 10:30. Fifteen minutes later the trip felt worth it when she saw the Swallow-tailed Kites. Two of her friends from Albany and Ticonderoga also drove to Kendall and urged her to make the trip.

Robinson said she has been birding the past eight years “obsessively.” She is retired as an assistant at an animal hospital. She said birders check their social media and online communities to see if there have been life bird alerts.

“Birders are very good about sharing information,” she said. “You never know when the next one is coming.”

She said the hobby has taken her throughout the region, to small towns, nature preserves and wildlife refuges.

William Norton, 24, of Hamlin only had to drive about 5 miles to get in position to see the two Swallow-tailed Kites. He has been a bird watcher since he was 16.

He said there are many different colors among birds, and they make distinctive noises.

“It’s just relaxing,” he said about the hobby. “You’re out in nature.”

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NY set new record Tuesday for number of Covid-19 tests
Posted 12 August 2020 at 12:23 pm

Press Release, Gov. Andrew Cuomo

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that 87,776 Covid-19 tests were reported to New York State yesterday—a new record high for tests in a single day.

Of the 87,776 test results, 700 or 0.79 percent were positive.

Each region’s percentage of positive test results reported over the last three days is as follows:

“We’re continuing to move forward protecting New Yorkers, slowing the spread and saving lives as the Covid-19 pandemic rages throughout much of the country and threatens the reduction in the numbers we’ve achieved here at home,” Governor Cuomo said. “New York is reaching new heights in its ability to track and trace the virus, and that’s evidenced by the record number of tests—nearly 88,000—that were reported yesterday. As we prepare for the fall, I urge everyone to wear masks, socially distance and wash their hands, and I urge local governments to enforce state guidance on reopening.”

Today’s data is summarized briefly below:

  • Patient Hospitalization – 558 (+18)
  • Patients Newly Admitted – 89
  • Number ICU – 123 (+3)
  • Number ICU with Intubation – 62 (+2)
  • Deaths – 7 (Total Deaths – 25,218)

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Orleans/Niagara BOCES sets 4 sessions on school reopening
Posted 12 August 2020 at 12:08 pm

Press Release, Orleans/Niagara BOCES

MEDINA – Orleans/Niagara BOCES District Superintendent Dr. Clark Godshall will be holding four informational sessions, on YouTube Live, to address concerns and procedures for reopening of all their sites.

Three of the sessions are directed towards parents and one session will be to address staff concerns.

The events are as follows:

  • August 17th at 7 p.m. – Reopening Informational Session for parents
  • August 18th from 3 to 5 p.m. – Reopening Informational Session for parents
  • August 18th at 7 p.m. – Reopening Informational Session for parents
  • August 19th at 3 p.m. – Reopening Informational Session for staff

There will be a link on the Orleans/Niagara BOCES website under the Covid-19 link.

The first day of school for students is September 8th.

Deadline Aug. 28 for Erie Canal photo contest
Posted 12 August 2020 at 9:28 am

Frank Forte was one of the 2019 photo contest winners with this photo of The Max Jacob on the Erie Canal.

Press Release, Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor

WATERFORD – The Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor is calling for entries for its 15th annual Erie Canalway Photo Contest. Images should convey the unique character of New York’s canals and canal communities.

Entries must be postmarked by Aug. 28. Winning photos will be featured in the 2021 Erie Canalway calendar.

Images will be judged in four contest categories: On the Water, Along the Trail, Canal Communities, and Classic Canal. Judges will select first, second, and third place winning images in each category, as well as 12 honorable mentions.

Submitted images must be taken within the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor, which spans 524 miles across the full expanse of upstate New York. It encompasses the Erie, Cayuga-Seneca, Oswego, and Champlain canals and their historic alignments, as well as more than 230 canal communities.

Download official contest rules and an entry form by clicking here.

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Oak Orchard gives healthy kits to farmworkers on Agricultural Worker Health Day
Staff Reports Posted 12 August 2020 at 8:33 am

Photo courtesy of Oak Orchard Health: Farmworkers hold some of the kits that were distributed on Tuesday by Oak Orchard Health. About 100 kits were given out at local farms.

Oak Orchard Health distributed healthy kits to local farmworkers on Tuesday, which was Agricultural Worker Health Day.

The kits included hand sanitizer, tooth brushes, tooth paste, dental floss, soap, masks, digital thermometers and a water bottle.

Oak Orchard is celebrating National Health Center Week this week. Tuesday highlighted the importance of agricultural workers in the local community and Oak Orchard’s commitment to providing them with the best of health care.

“Agricultural workers in the US have been called the ‘invisible population’ as they are socially and geographically isolated from the rest of society,” said Mary Ann Pettibon, CEO of Oak Orchard Heath. “We want to recognize this population with gift bags of useful supplies and a cool drink to ease their otherwise extremely busy day.”

Originally founded in 1966, Oak Orchard has grown from a migrant health project into an integrated health center with multiple locations providing health care services for the entire community.

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Lyndonville Foundation approves funding for dialysis equipment at Medina Memorial
Posted 12 August 2020 at 8:11 am

Local agencies also approved for significant donations

Press Release, Lyndonville Area Foundation

LYNDONVILLE – At its recent July combined annual and quarterly meetings, the Lyndonville Area Foundation actively continues its mission of community support.

The Foundation in July approved full funding for new dialysis and dialysis-related equipment to Orleans Community Health/Medina Memorial Hospital.

The Foundation’s Board of Directors also approved significant donations and grants to the Genesee-Orleans Ministry of Concern, Christ Church Community Kitchen in Albion and the Arc of Genesee/Orleans.

At its previous quarterly meeting in April, the Foundation expedited nearly $40,000 in grants throughout Orleans County including several Orleans County food pantries that had exhausted supplies for the needy due to high unemployment rates and other Covid-19 related issues.

In June, the Lyndonville Area Foundation again provided numerous scholarships to college and/or military-bound graduates from Lyndonville Central School. The Foundation has provided annual scholarships each year for nearly 25 years. Initially beginning with three scholarships of less than $5,000, the Foundation’s annual scholarship fund has since grown to a dozen scholarships totaling nearly $50,000 per year.

Three current scholarships are made possible by private contributions in liaison with the Lyndonville Area Foundation. On behalf of its board of directors, current Foundation President, Darren D. Wilson, expresses his sincere thanks for the continued support and ongoing generosity of Lyndonville’s Cook family, former Lyndonville resident Mr. Donald O. Skinner and the estate of the late Frank B. Housel, Jr., a lifelong Lyndonville resident, for making the Trevor T Cook, Skinner-Wilson and Housel scholarships, respectively, possible.

The Foundation’s Board of Directors meet again in late October.

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Man, 30, suffers severe burns in grease fire at Albion
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 11 August 2020 at 11:04 pm

Photos by Tom Rivers

ALBION – Firefighters carry a fan into a house at 105 West State St., where there was a grease fire that caused severe burns to a 30-year-old Albion. The fans were used to blow smoke out of the house.

The man was cooking and tried to put out the grease fire. He suffered severe burns and was taken by COVA ambulance to Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester.

The man is the grandson of Suzanne Bourke, wife of Orleans County Sheriff Chris Bourke.

Firefighters were dispatched to the scene at 9:56 p.m. Albion, Barre and Medina responded, along with the Orleans County Emergency Management Office and Albion Police Department.

Sheriff Chris Bourke, left, talks with Albion Police Chief Roland Nenni, center, and Dale Banker, the county’s EMO director.

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Orleans doesn’t have any new Covid-19 cases while Genesee is reporting 2 more
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 11 August 2020 at 5:20 pm

Orleans County doesn’t have any new confirmed cases of Covid-19 to report today, the Genesee and Orleans County Health Departments said this afternoon.

Orleans has eight more people on precautionary quarantine due to travel from restricted states.

Genesee County has 2 new positive cases of Covid-19 for a total of 268 positive cases. The two new positive cases are both Batavia residents with one in the 50s and the other in the 80s.

Both of the individuals were on mandatory quarantine prior to testing positive.

Genesee also has two people hospitalized with Covid-19. The county also is reporting 15 new individuals on precautionary quarantine due to travel from restricted states.

More from the Genesee and Orleans County Health Departments:

• Be alert for scam artists: The Genesee and Orleans County Health Department staff will always identify themselves, their position, and the reason for their visit or phone call. All staff have county provided identification badges that have their pictures. In the event you are approached by someone stating they are from the health department without a clear reason for their visit or phone call, do not let them in your home and do not give them any information and call 911.

• Community Testing Sites: Check with the testing site for any specific criteria necessary for testing such as illness, contact with someone who tested positive, essential worker, required for reopening/business, etc. Many need to have a doctor referral/prescription. Always call first.

  • Oak Orchard Health: 301 West Ave Albion, NY 14411. Call (585) 589-5613 to be screened and to schedule an appointment – no walk-ins.
  • WellNow Urgent Care: 4189 Veterans Memorial Drive Batavia, NY 14020.
  • Rochester Regional Health Urgent Care: 16 Bank Street Batavia, NY 14020.

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Oak Orchard Health approved for $454,916 telehealth grant
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 11 August 2020 at 2:29 pm

Oak Orchard Health has been awarded a $454,916 grant to expand telehealth services, U.S. Sens. Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand announced today.

The grant is among $5,308,428 in federal funding to provide additional telehealth services for New Yorkers affected by the Covid-19 outbreak, the two U.S. senators from New York said.

The money is from the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) COVID-19 Telehealth Program as allocated by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES). This federal funding will be used to purchase telehealth devices and equipment that will help expand patient accessibility to remote health care across New York State.

“As New York rebuilds and recovers from COVID-19, it’s imperative that our hospitals and health centers have all the tools necessary to keep the virus at bay,” said Senator Schumer.

“This vital funding for telehealth programs provides New Yorkers with safe medical care during our state’s recovery. I will continue fighting for funding that hospitals and health centers need to keep both healthcare providers and patients safe and healthy throughout this pandemic and beyond.”

“Telehealth services have played an integral part of New York State’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak by allowing health care professionals to effectively treat patients without compromising their own health,” said Senator Gillibrand. “I will continue fighting for the resources needed to expand New York’s telehealth capabilities and to support our state’s essential workers and patients during this unprecedented health crisis.”

Oak Orchard Health operates healthcare sites in Albion, Alexander, Batavia, Brockport, Corfu, Lyndonville, Hornell and Warsaw.

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Census Bureau has people going door-to-door to boost low response rate in Orleans
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 11 August 2020 at 11:36 am

The U.S. Census Bureau has staff going door-to-door in Orleans County, trying to get residents to fill out the Census.

Orleans has a low response rate to the census so far. Only 51.6 percent have filled it out. The county’s neighbors have a higher rate. In Niagara, it’s 68.3 percent; in Genesee, 62.2 percent; and Monroe, 65.2 percent.

The state-wide response rate is 59.1 percent.

The Census Bureau says the survey is quick to fill out, taking 5 to 10 minutes.

The survey s done by law every 10 years. An accurate count is important for communities so they receive their fair share of state and federal dollars. The census is also used to draw the boundaries in legislative districts.

Census officials are also working in partnership with local organizations to host events in public places where there will be assistance filling out the census.

The census will be collected until Sept. 30.

Households can still respond now by completing and mailing back the paper questionnaire they received, by responding online at, or by phone at 844-330-2020.

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NY adds 2 states to travel advisory, removes 4 from list
Posted 11 August 2020 at 11:22 am

Travelers from 31 states must now self quarantine for 2 weeks in NY

Press Release, Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Office

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that two additional states and Virgin Islands meet the metrics to qualify for the travel advisory requiring individuals who have traveled to New York from those areas, all of which have significant community spread, to quarantine for 14 days.

The newly-added states are Hawaii and South Dakota. Alaska, New Mexico, Ohio and Rhode Island have been removed.

The quarantine applies to any person arriving from an area with a positive test rate higher than 10 per 100,000 residents over a 7-day rolling average or an area with a 10 percent or higher positivity rate over a 7-day rolling average.

“New York went from one of the worst situations in the country, to an example for the rest of the nation to follow,” Governor Cuomo said. “Our numbers continue to remain low and steady, which shows this virus will respond to an approach based on science, not politics. In order to protect this progress, we must keep up our efforts – we cannot go back to the hell we experienced a few months ago, which is why we are adding Hawaii, South Dakota and Virgin Islands to the travel advisory.”

The full, updated travel advisory list, includes: Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Iowa, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Virgin Islands and Wisconsin.

Alaska, New Mexico, Ohio and Rhode Island have been removed from the travel advisory. Individuals in quarantine after traveling from a state that has been removed from the advisory should continue to quarantine for the full 14 days.

Today’s data on Covid-19 is summarized briefly below:

  • Patient Hospitalization – 540 (+5)
  • Patients Newly Admitted – 56
  • Number ICU – 120 (-7)
  • Number ICU with Intubation – 60 (-2)
  • Deaths – 6 (Total Deaths – 25,211)
  • Of the 77,059 test results reported to New York State yesterday, 667, or 0.86 percent, were positive. The 667 additional cases of novel coronavirus bring the statewide total to 422,003 confirmed cases in New York State.

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Governor signs law requiring all passengers, 16 and older, to wear seatbelts
Posted 11 August 2020 at 10:55 am

Legislation takes effect on Nov. 1 and includes backseat passengers

Press Release, Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Office

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today signed legislation (S.4336/A.6163) requiring all passengers in motor vehicles over the age of 16 to wear a seat belt. Currently, passengers aged 16 and older are only required to wear a seat belt in the front passenger seat next to the driver.

“We’ve known for decades that seat belts save lives and with this measure we are further strengthening our laws and helping to prevent needless tragedies,” Governor Cuomo said. “It was under my father’s leadership that New York became the first state in the country to pass a seat belt law, and the nation followed his lead. Now we are building upon this legacy and helping to create a safer and stronger Empire State for all.”

In 1984, under Governor Mario Cuomo, New York became the first state to pass a mandatory seat belt law and in the same year, according to the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles, approximately 16 percent of individuals wore seat belts. By 2008, 24 years after the law was enacted, the compliance rate was up to 89 percent.

Senator David Carlucci said, “The injuries you can sustain from not wearing a seat belt can be deadly, and that’s a fact whether you sit in the front or the back of a vehicle. With this bill signed into law, we will help prevent tragedies and save lives in New York. Thank you to the advocates, including AAA for their strong support of this legislation.”

The Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee has indicated 30 percent of highway deaths in New York are occupants unrestrained by a seat belt. Safety experts believe that the use of a backseat seat belt could prevent over two thirds of fatalities and serious injuries resulting from crashes. This legislation seeks to reduce automobile accident fatalities and casualties by requiring all occupants of a motor vehicle to buckle up.

The new law takes effect November 1.

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Medina district schedules meetings for community about reopening plan
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 11 August 2020 at 9:40 am

District gives families until Aug. 21 to decide whether in-person schooling or remote

MEDINA – The school district has scheduled three meetings next week for the community to learn about Medina’s reopening plan.

The District is planning in-person education from Monday through Friday for students in grades Pre-K through 6. Classrooms have been reconfigured to allow for maximum social distancing, said Mark Kruzynski, the district superintendent.

Students in grades 7-12 will have the option to attend school in-person every other day, alternating on Fridays. They will do remote learning when not in school, in-person.

“We simply do not have the space or staff for all students in grades 7-12 to be socially distant every day,” Krusynski said in a letter to the community on Monday.

Students identified as having higher level, disability-specific needs will be invited to attend school daily, he said.

Families have until Aug. 21 to notify the district whether their children will be attending school in-person or remotely. (Click here for more information.)

Aug. 21 is also the deadline to fill out a transportation request form. (Click here for more information.)

The district also has scheduled the following community meetings about the reopening plan:

  • August 17, 4 p.m. with focus on Oak Orchard Elementary
  • August 18, 4 p.m. with focus on Medina High School
  • August 19, 4 p.m. with focus Wise Intermediate/Middle School

Click here for more information on the links to the live stream/recordings of the meetings.

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