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Central Texas COVID-19 death toll inches toward 1,000; another 20 deaths reported Wednesday

COVID-19 has claimed 20 more lives in Central Texas as the regional death toll inches toward...
COVID-19 has claimed 20 more lives in Central Texas as the regional death toll inches toward 1,000, but in the region’s largest counties, the daily number of new cases of the virus dropped slightly Wednesday. (File)(KCRG)
Published: Jan. 20, 2021 at 6:16 PM CST|Updated: Jan. 20, 2021 at 7:06 PM CST
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(KWTX) - COVID-19 has claimed 20 more lives in Central Texas increasing the regional death toll to 988, but in an encouraging sign in the region’s largest counties, Bell and McLennan, the daily number of new confirmed cases of the virus dropped into the double digits Wednesday.

Another 438 confirmed cases of the virus were reported Wednesday in Central Texas, increasing the regional total to 57,302.

The two counties reported a total of a dozen additional deaths Wednesday, and death tolls rose as well in Falls, Hill, Lampasas, Limestone, Milam, Navarro, Robertson and San Saba counties.

The remains of 23 of the patients who died of the virus in McLennan County are temporarily housed in a refrigerated mobile morgue, Waco Mayor Dillon Meek said during a virtual news conference Wednesday.

According to Texas Department of State Health Services data Wednesday, at least 988 Central Texas residents diagnosed with the virus have died, including 220 Bell County residents, 22 more than the local count of 198; 20 Bosque County residents; 45 Coryell County residents, 22 more than the local count of 23; 23 Falls County residents; 30 Freestone County residents; 21 Hamilton County residents; 48 Hill County residents; 18 Lampasas County residents; 28 Leon County residents; 35 Limestone County residents; 348 McLennan County residents, 11 more than the local count of 337; 20 Milam County residents, two more than the local count of 18; 16 Mills County residents; 74 Navarro County residents; 26 Robertson County residents, and 16 San Saba County residents.

The statewide death toll rose by 450 to 32,844 Wednesday.

TDSHS reported an additional 25,935 confirmed cases of the virus Wednesday, 25,512 of them new, increasing the statewide total to 1,898,549.

Of the total, 378,988 cases were active Wednesday, 1,739,136 patients have recovered, and at least 13,870 patients were hospitalized, almost 60 fewer than on Tuesday.

The surge in cases, and the number of deaths, prompted DSHS to warn in a tweet Wednesday, “Hospitals can’t take much more.”

In Trauma Service Area L, which includes Bell, Coryell, Hamilton, Lampasas, Milam and Mills counties, at least 205 COVID-19 patients were hospitalized Wednesday, 11 fewer than on Tuesday, accounting for about 23% all hospitalizations and filling about 19% of available beds.

At least 163 COVID-19 patients were hospitalized Wednesday in Trauma Service Area M, which includes McLennan, Bosque, Falls, Hill and Limestone counties, accounting for about 35% of all hospitalizations and occupying about 26% of available beds, above the 15% ceiling that triggers capacity reductions under orders Gov. Greg Abbott issued on Sept. 17 and Oct. 7.

About 16 million molecular tests have been administered statewide.

The Lab Test Date positivity Wednesday was 16.61%, up slight from 16.11% on Tuesday.

Experts say a positivity rate of 5% or less indicates the virus is under control.

VACCINATIONS

The Waco-McLennan County Health District has replaced its online vaccination registration system with an online waiting list that residents can access anytime.

The health district, which received another 1,500 doses of the Moderna vaccine this week, opened registration windows on Sunday and Monday for appointments for free vaccinations from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday at the Waco Convention Center for residents eligible under Phases 1A and 1B of the state’s vaccination plan and the time slots were filled in a matter of minutes.

The City of Waco has activated its Public Information Hotline to allow residents who don’t have access to email or the internet to get the latest updates on testing sites, vaccine availability and other information related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The number is (254) 750-5606.

The Waco Family Health Center received 800 doses of vaccine this week, which officials hope to administer by the end of the week to high-risk patients.

About 3.3 million dose of vaccine have been allocated to the state and on Wednesday about 2.5 million of them had been shipped.

Statewide Wednesday, 1.24 million residents had received the first dose of the vaccine and 189,909 had received both, for a total of about 1.4 million doses.

The state was scheduled to receive 843,000 more doses this week, 333,650 of them initial doses and 509,400 secondary doses, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said Tuesday.

Officials have established 77 vaccination hubs around the state.

Five of the vaccine hub providers are in Central Texas including the Bell County Public Health District, the Coryell Health Medical Clinic in Gatesville, Falls Community Hospital and Clinic in Marlin; Ascension Providence Health Center in Waco; the Waco-McLennan County Health District.

Now eligible for vaccination are those covered by Phase 1A of the state’s vaccination distribution plan, including frontline healthcare workers and residents and employees of long-term care facilities and those covered by Phase 1B of the plan including residents 65 and older and residents 16 and older with medical conditions that put them at risk of severe COVID-19 illness.

The Bell County Health District received a second shipment of 3,900 doses of the Pfizer vaccine on Tuesday, a day later than expected, which forced officials to reschedule Monday and Tuesday appointments.

On Wednesday the health district announced its vaccination centers at the Killeen Community Center at 2201 East Veterans Memorial Blvd. and at 220 West Avenue D in Temple will be open on Tuesdays through Saturdays and closed on Mondays and Sundays.

“The goal of these changes is to create a schedule that will not be disrupted by potential delays with the shipping of our allocated vaccine doses,” health district Director Dr. Amanda Robison-Chadwell said.

“By closing on Sunday and Monday, we should be able to reserve enough doses that we can continue to operate, even if we do not receive that week’s delivery,” she said.

Residents with appointments scheduled on or after this Sunday are being notified by email.

Those with Sunday appointments will be rescheduled for vaccinations on a date two to four days later.

“I can certainly understand the frustration that this may cause some of our patients,” Chadwell said, “but we believe that this is a necessary adjustment to help us better serve the people of Bell County and Texas moving forward.”

Anyone unable to make an appointment online may call the Bell County COVID-19 vaccination hotline from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday at (254)-933-5203.

Coryell Health received 600 doses on Dec. 23, but didn’t receive any vaccine last week, is expecting a shipment of Pfizer vaccines this week, and has scheduled an appointment-only vaccination clinic Saturday at the Gatesville Civic Center for which all appointments have been filled.

The first doses were administered to frontline healthcare workers, first responders, essential workers and residents of Coryell Health RehabLiving and Assisted & Independent Living at The Oaks, as well as Hillview Manor Nursing and Rehabilitation Center.

Copperas Cove has also posted an online survey in order to accurately judge the amount of vaccine needed in the community.

Veterans can get up-to-date information on VA’s VA COVID-19 vaccine webpage, which launched on Dec. 11, may sign up for regular updates on the vaccine on the vaccine on the VA’s Stay Informed page, and may contact their primary care providers through www.myhealth.va.gov or by calling 1-800-423-2111.

The Texas Department of State Health Services vaccination dashboard Wednesday showed that in Bell County, with 265,191 residents who are 16 and older, 11,716 residents have received a first dose and 2,172 have received both, while in McLennan County, with 198,642 residents 16 and older, 9,196 residents have received a first dose and 1,036 have received both.

The dashboard Wednesday showed the administration of 647 initial and 20 secondary vaccinations in Bosque County; 1,295 initial and 96 secondary vaccinations in Coryell County; 346 initial and 25 secondary vaccinations in Falls County; 467 initial and four secondary vaccinations in Freestone County; 1,549 initial and four secondary vaccinations in Hamilton County; 1,190 initial vaccinations and 49 secondary vaccinations in Hill County; 391 initial and 51 secondary vaccinations in Lampasas County; 397 initial and six secondary vaccinations in Leon County; 738 initial and 11 secondary vaccinations in Limestone County; 1,082 initial and 27 secondary vaccinations in Milam County; 255 initial and five secondary vaccinations in Mills County; 1,218 initial and 38 secondary vaccinations in Navarro County; 452 initial and 19 secondary vaccinations in Robertson County, and 76 initial and four secondary vaccinations in San Saba County.

VACCINE INFORMATION AND RESOURCES

BELL COUNTY

The Bell County Public Health District Wednesday reported the deaths of five more residents diagnosed with the virus, a Temple man in his 90s, a Temple woman in her 70s; a woman who was 99 or older from Temple, a Temple man in his 60s and a Killeen man in his 70s, increasing the virus’ toll in the county to 198, according to local data.

The health district reported 77 additional confirmed case of the virus Wednesday, 63 of them new.

Of the total 2,476 cases were active Wednesday and 14,567 patients have recovered.

“We are seeing some silver lining with our COVID cases in that our incidence rate is dropping,” health district director Dr. Amanda Robison-Chadwell said Wednesday.

The incidence rate Wednesday was 682 cases per 100,000 residents, down from 803 on Monday.

State data, which includes Fort Hood personnel who live on post, showed a total of 17,071 confirmed cases and 220 deaths, an increase of six.

In state Trauma Service Area L, which includes Bell County, at least 205 COVID-19 patients were hospitalized Wednesday accounting for about 23% all hospitalizations and filling about 19% of available beds, sufficiently high to trigger capacity reductions under orders Gov. Greg Abbott issued on Sept. 17 and Oct. 7.

The City of Killeen opened an online application system at 9 a.m. on Wednesday for residents seeking assistance with rent or mortgages. Funding, which comes from the federal CARES Act, is limited.

Temple’s city hall, public library, historic post office, Parks and Recreation administration building, Public Works Service Center, Human Resources Department, and Utility Business Office and Municipal Court will remain closed to walk-in traffic through Feb. 28 because of COVID-19 infection rates, City Manage Brynn Myers said Friday. Services at the facilities remain available online, by phone, by appointment, at curbside or by drive-thru, she said. City employees who are able to work remotely will continue to do so, the city said. Essential employees will adhere to safety guidelines including social distancing, regular hand washing and the use of face coverings.

Temple Fire & Rescue will host drive-thru COVID-19 testing from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Thursday and Friday at Fire Station No. 7 at 8420 West Adams Ave.; and from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Jan. 28 and Jan. 29 at Fire Station No. 1 at 210 North 3rd St. Tests are free. Residents may register online or on site. More information is available online.

A temporary drive-thru COVID-19 testing site will be open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday at the Killeen Special Events Center at 3301 South WS Young Dr. Online registration is required.

Testing is available from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Wednesdays in January at Nolanville’s Central Fire Station at 84 North Main St. Registration is not required.

The University of Mary Hardin-Baylor dashboard Wednesday showed a cumulative total of 208 cases since Aug. 1 and 18 current active cases.

Texas A&M University-Central Texas Wednesday reported two active cases involving students and 26 positive tests for the virus since March, 20 involving students. All students must complete online training on safe practices before returning for the spring semester, which starts this week.

The Killeen ISD’s online dashboard Wednesday showed almost 1,200 cases since March 16, 539 involving students and 651 involving staff, and 36 involving students and 35 involving staff in the past seven days. The dashboard showed one active case Wednesday involving a student at Alice Douse Elementary; two involving employees at Bellaire Elementary; one involving a student and one involving an employee at Cedar Valley Elementary; one involving a student at Clear Creek Elementary; one involving a student and one involving an employee at Clifton Park Elementary; one involving an employee at Fowler Elementary; one involving a student at Hay Branch Elementary; two involving employees at Iduma Elementary; two involving students at Ira Cross Elementary; one involving an employee at Mountain View Elementary; one involving an employee at Oveta Culp Hobby Elementary; one involving a student at Peebles Elementary; two involving students and one involving an employee at Pershing Park Elementary; two involving students at Reeces Creek Elementary; one involving a student and one involving an employee at Richard E. Cavazos Elementary; two involving students and two involving employees at Saegert Elementary; one involving a student at Skipcha Elementary; one involving an employee at Sugar Loaf Elementary; one involving a student at Trimmier Elementary; two involving employees at Willow Springs Elementary; one involving a student at Audie Murphy Middle School; five involving students at Charles Paterson Middle School; one involving an employee at Liberty Hill Middle School; one involving an employee at Live Oak Ridge Middle School; one involving a student and three involving employees at Nolan Middle School; one involving an employee at Palo Alto Middle School; two involving students and two involving employees at Smith Middle School; one involving a student at Early College High School; three involving students and one involving an employee at Ellison High School; School; four involving students and one involving an employee at Harker Heights High School; two involving students and one involving an employee at Killeen High School; two involving students and one involving an employee at Shoemaker High School, and seven involving employees at non-campus facilities, five in Learning Support Services.

The Killeen ISD is offering free COVID-19 screening to students and employees from 7 a.m. to 11 .m. and 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. on regular school days at the former Nolan Middle School building at 505 Jasper Dr. in Killeen, using the 2nd Street entrance. Screening is by appointment and students younger than 18 require signed waivers from parents or guardians. The state-funded testing uses BinaxNOW nasal swab tests, which provide results in 15 minutes. Information is available online.

The Temple ISD’s online dashboard Wednesday showed four cases at Temple High School, one at Bonham Middle School, one at Raye-Allen Elementary, and one at Edwards Elementary School and one in the district’s transportation department.

The Belton ISD’s online dashboard Wednesday showed one case at Belton Early Childhood School; one case at Charter Oak Elementary; two at Chisholm Trail Elementary; 13 at Lakewood Elementary; two at Leon Heights Elementary; four at Miller Heights Elementary; one at Southwest Elementary; four at Belton Middle School; one at Lake Belton Middle School; six at North Belton Middle School; seven at South Belton Middle School; seven at Belton High School; two at Belton New Tech High School; eight at Lake Belton High School, and four at non-campus facilities.

VACCINE INFORMATION AND RESOURCES

BELL COUNTY COVID-19 DEATHS

TEXAS PUBLIC SCHOOL COVID-19 DATA

MCLENNAN COUNTY

The Waco-McLennan County Health District reported the deaths of seven more residents diagnosed with the virus Wednesday, an 84-year-old woman, an 85-year-old man, a 69-year-old man, a 78-year-old man, an 84-year-old man, an 88-year-old man and an 87-year-old man, increasing the virus’ toll in the county to 337, according to local data.

State data, based on death certificates and county of residence, showed 348 deaths, an increase of four.

The health district also reported 81 more confirmed cases of the virus, raising the county’s total to 22,373.

Of that number, 1,087 cases were active Wednesday, 20,949 patients have recovered, and 139 were hospitalized, 25 of them on ventilators.

Of the 139, 90 are McLennan County residents.

At least 164 COVID-19 patients were hospitalized Wednesday in the Trauma Service Area that includes McLennan County, accounting for about 35% of all hospitalizations and occupying about 26% of available beds, which is above the 15% ceiling that triggers capacity reductions under orders Gov. Greg Abbott issued on Sept. 17 and Oct. 7.

The McLennan County Jail was locked down Wednesday after 30 inmates and seven employees tested positive for the virus.

Another 283 inmates were quarantined.

The new cases reported Wednesday involve two residents younger than a year old; three who range in age from 1 to 10; five who range in age from 11 to 17; 22 who range in age from 18 to 25; five who range in age from 26 to 29; nine residents in their 30s; 15 in their 40s; 10 in their 50s; six in their 60s, and four in their 70s.

The health district has replaced its online vaccination registration system, which left some residents frustrated, with an online waiting list that’s always accessible, officials announced Wednesday.

The City of Waco has activated its Public Information Hotline to allow residents who don’t have access to email or the internet to get the latest updates on testing sites, vaccine availability and other information related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The number is (254) 750-5606.

Free COVID-19 test sites are in operation in the Waco area after the federal government provided 40,000 test kits to McLennan County as part of the effort to stem the spread of the virus. The health district has contracted with Aardvark Mobile Health to provide mobile COVID-19 tests, using a small truck that can accommodate two testing lines with the capacity to administer as many as 500 tests daily. Additional details are available online.

For those experiencing disabling feelings of loss, change and sadness, short-term counseling is available through the Texans Recovering Together Crisis Counseling Program. A counselor can be requested using an online form or by calling 1-866-576-1101.

The Central Texas Food Bank will distribute food from 10 a.m. to noon on Jan. 28 at Waco ISD Stadium at 1401 South New Road.

Baylor University’s online dashboard Wednesday showed 224 active cases including 168 involving students, 15 involving staff, three involving faculty and six involving contractors. In the past seven days 112 positive tests have been administered. A total of 2,266 cases have been confirmed since Aug. 1. Spring classes started Tuesday. Students, faculty and staff were required to test negative for the virus before returning to campus for the spring semester and must undergo weekly COVID-19 testing during the spring term.

The McLennan Community College dashboard showed 15 active cases Wednesday, 10 involving students, and 284 total cases in the past three weeks, 221 involving students. The college is offering classes in blended-hybrid and online formats during the spring semester.

The Waco ISD dashboard Wednesday showed cumulative totals of 219 students, 245 employees, and 10 classified as “other” have been diagnosed with the virus since Sept. 8. The dashboard showed one active case at Alta Vista Elementary; one at Hillcrest PDS; two at Mountainview Elementary; one at West Avenue Elementary; two at Cesar Chavez Middle School; two at Indian Spring Middle School; two at University High School; one at Waco High School, and one at a non-campus facility.

The Midway ISD’s online dashboard Wednesday showed one case involving an employee at Castleman Creek Elementary; two involving employees at Hewitt Elementary; four involving students and three involving employees at South Bosque Elementary; one involving a student at Speegleville Elementary; two involving students and one involving an employee at Woodway Elementary; 11 involving students and two involving employees at River Valley Intermediate; three involving students at Woodgate Intermediate; three involving students and two involving employees at Midway Middle School; 12 involving students and two involving employees at Midway High School, and two involving employees at non-campus facilities.

The Lorena ISD dashboard Wednesday showed two cases involving students at Lorena Primary; one involving a student at Lorena Elementary; one involving a student at Lorena Middle School, and one involving an employee at a non-campus facility.

The Mart ISD’s online dashboard showed no active cases Wednesday.

The McGregor ISD’s online dashboard Wednesday showed five cases at McGregor Elementary, three at Isbill Junior High and two at McGregor High School.

VACCINE INFORMATION AND RESOURCES

MCLENNAN COUNTY COVID-19 DEATHS

TEXAS PUBLIC SCHOOL COVID-19 DATA

CORYELL COUNTY

Coryell County reported 2,546 confirmed cases of the virus Wednesday, an increase of 145 since the last local report on Jan. 14.

Of the total, 561 cases were active, 1,962 patients have recovered and 23 have died.

State data, which includes inmates in state prison units, showed 4,236 total confirmed cases, an increase of 38, and 125 probable cases.

Of the total, 3,598 patients have recovered and 45 have died, state data showed.

In state Trauma Service Area L, which includes Coryell County, at least 205 COVID-19 patients were hospitalized Wednesday, accounting for about 23% all hospitalizations and filling almost 19% of available beds.

The Texas Department of State Health Services has advised the county that the TSA’s hospitalization rate is sufficiently high to trigger capacity reductions, bar closings and suspension of elective surgery under orders Gov. Greg Abbott issued on Sept. 17 and Oct. 7.

Coryell Health continues to offer elective surgeries despite the restrictions because the hospital has “available beds and adequate supplies,” which allows for an exemption under the governor’s orders.

The Copperas Cove ISD’s online dashboard Wednesday showed 12 cases involving students and one involving an employee at Cove High School; six involving students and three involving employees at Cove Junior High; two involving students and one involving an employee at S. C. Lee Junior High; one involving a student and one involving an employee at Clements Parsons Elementary; two involving students at Fairview Jewell Elementary; one involving an employee at Hettie Halstead Elementary; two involving students at Martin Walker Elementary; one involving a student and three involving employees at Williams/Ledger Elementary; two involving employees at Mae Stevens Early Learning Academy, and one involving an employee at a non-campus facility.

The Gatesville ISD’s online dashboard Wednesday showed nine cases at Gatesville High School, eight involving students; two at Gatesville Junior High, one involving a student; six cases at Gatesville Intermediate, three involving students; seven at Gatesville Elementary, six involving students, and two involving transportation employees.

The Linda Woodman State Jail in Gatesville was no longer on lockdown Wednesday and had just one case involving an inmate and 12 involving employees. Three inmates were isolated.

The Texas Department of Criminal Justice Wednesday reported three cases involving inmates and 17 involving employees at the Christina Melton Crain Unit where 103 inmates were on medical restriction and three were isolated; 43 cases involving inmates and 19 involving employees at the Hilltop Unit where 386 inmates were restricted and 43 were isolated; 219 cases involving inmates and 54 involving employees at the Alfred D. Hughes Unit in Gatesville where 1,441 inmates were medically restricted and 224 were medically isolated; 48 cases involving inmates and 17 involving employees at the Mountain View Unit in Gatesville where 126 inmates were isolated and 48 were isolated, and two cases involving inmates and 16 involving employees at the Dr. Lane Murray Unit where 49 inmates were restricted and two were isolated.

The Cove House Free Clinic at 806 West Avenue D, Suite H, is offering free COVID-19 testing from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesdays. Appointments are required and may be made by calling (254) 289-9865.

TEXAS PUBLIC SCHOOL COVID-19 DATA

FALLS COUNTY

Falls County had 1,257 confirmed and 65 probable cases of the virus Wednesday.

Of the total, 1,177 patients have recovered and a 23rd resident has died, according to state data.

The Texas Department of Criminal Justice Wednesday reported 36 case involving inmates and 15 involving employees at the William Hobby Unit in Marlin where 999 inmates were restricted and 36 were isolated, and one case involving an inmate and five involving employees at the Marlin Transfer Unit where 32 inmates were restricted and one was isolated.

LIMESTONE COUNTY

Limestone County had 1,180 confirmed and 251 probable cases of the virus Wednesday.

Of the total, 1,274 patients have recovered.

State data showed a 35th resident diagnosed with the virus has died.

TEXAS PUBLIC SCHOOL COVID-19 DATA

NAVARRO COUNTY

Navarro County Tuesday had 3,079 confirmed and 1,869 probable cases, according to state data.

Of the total, 4,051 patients have recovered.

At least 74 have died, according to state and local data.

TEXAS PUBLIC SCHOOL COVID-19 DATA

OTHER COUNTIES

Bosque County had 816 confirmed and 190 probable cases of the virus Wednesday, according to state data. At least 809 patients have recovered and 20 residents have died.

Freestone County had 677 confirmed and 316 probable cases of the virus Wednesday, according to state data. Of the total, 913 patients have recovered and 30 have died. The Texas Department of Criminal Justice Wednesday reported four cases involving inmates and five involving employees at the William Boyd Unit in Teague where 373 inmates were medically restricted and four were isolated.

Hamilton County had 513 confirmed cases and 39 probable cases Wednesday, according to state data. At least 460 patients have recovered and 21 have died.

Hill County had 1,994 confirmed and 424 probable cases of the virus Wednesday, according to state data. At least 2,210 patients have recovered and a 48th resident has died. The Hill College dashboard showed one case involving an employee Wednesday on the Hill County campus. The Hillsboro ISD dashboard Wednesday showed one case involving an employee at Hillsboro Intermediate and four involving employees at Hillsboro High School.

Lampasas County had 825 confirmed and 101 probable cases of the virus Wednesday, according to state data. At least 744 patients have recovered and an 18th resident has died.

Leon County had 653 confirmed and 226 probable cases of the virus Wednesday, according to state data. At least 753 patients have recovered and 28 residents have died.

Milam County reported 1,096 confirmed cases and 771 probable cases Wednesday. Thirteen patients were hospitalized, 45 cases were active, 1,798 patients have recovered and 18 have died, according to local data. State data showed 20 deaths.

Mills County had 349 confirmed and 25 probable cases of the virus Wednesday according to state data, which showed 257 patients have recovered and 16 residents have died.

Robertson County had 808 confirmed and 265 probable cases of the virus Wednesday according to state data, which showed 913 patients have recovered and a 26th resident has died.

San Saba County had 375confirmed and 113 probable cases Wednesday, according to state data, which showed at least 405 patients have recovered and a 16th resident has died. The Texas Department of Criminal Justice Wednesday reported five cases involving inmates and two involving employees at the San Saba Transfer Unit where 41 inmates were restricted and 12 were medically isolated.

VACCINE INFORMATION AND RESOURCES

TEXAS PUBLIC SCHOOL COVID-19 DATA

COVID-19 INFORMATION, LINKS AND RESOURCES

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