tv At This Hour With Kate Bolduan CNN December 16, 2021 8:00am-9:00am PST
i'm kate bolduan. growing concern. dr. anthony fauci warning it's only a matter of time before the omicron variant is the dominant strain in the united states as the variant rages across the world. historic severe weather. president biden vows to help kentucky in a big way as the midwest is reeling from hurricane-force winds battering the region. and taking the stand. kim potter is set to testify in her own defense on trial, facing questions about how she drew a gun instead of a taser when she killed daunte wright.
major developments with the pandemic. new covid infections are rising sharply driven in part by the omicron variant. dr. anthony fauci clearly raising the level of concern this morning. >> certainly what it is showing us in other countries and i believe soon in our own country, george, is it has an extraordinary ability to transmit efficiently and spread. it has what we call a doubling time of about three days, and if you do the math on that, if you have just a couple of percentages of the isolates being omicron, very soon it's going to be the dominant variant. >> but what that dominant variant is going to do is still unclear. here is where we are right now. new cases in the u.s. are up nearly 40% over the last month. the more important metric that we always watch is hospitalizations. they're up more than 40% in the last month as well. and part of the concern now is a
one-two punch of covid and flu season at the same time. this wave is leading to a slew of cancellations. colleges, including nyu, princeton, and cornell, moving the last few days of semester online. sports leagues postponing games as more players and staff test positive for covid. and broadway shows forced to cannes l performances three months after reopening. france announced it is banning all nonessential travel from the uk as britain is seeing a new daily record for infections. let's begin with cnn's elizabeth cohen on the growing concern we're hearing from top health officialings right now. something has shifted. what are these officials saying this morning? >> reporter: i think what's shifted here is that they're seeing just how fast this is growing. i want you to take a look at some cdc data, kate. what this shows is that the
omicron was only 0.4% of all of the circulating virus for the week ending december 4th, but by the week ending december 11th, it was up to 2.9%. of course both numbers are tiny and delta is by far the predominant variant, but that's going up more than seven times in one week. so, they are concerned about it growing you might say why are they concerned? omicron is supposed to spread milder disease, even though it spreads so fast. here are a couple of reasons. one, we don't know what it's going to do until it gets here. we need to see it in this country and see what happens. but also there are a lot of immune compromised people who are not protected by the vaccines. the vaccines did not work terribly well for them. this is spreading so quickly that while they might have managed to avoid delta, are they going to be able to avoid this? if a healthy person gets omicron, maybe they'll be okay. but we have many more concerns about people who are immune compromised. another concern is even if disease is mild, people are going to want to get checked for
covid. they'll want to get tested, see their doctor, want to go to urgent care centers. that's putting a strain on all the resources. as we know, those resources are already so strained. kate? >> exhausted. thank you, elizabeth. let's go to the new wave of disrupgs to daily life coming with this new wave of covid. cnn's polo sandoval is live at nyu, among the universities facing an outbreak and making tough choices because of it. what are you hearing? >> reporter: kate, school officials here detecting what they're describing as a considerable acceleration in the number of covid positive cases here, not obviously in terms of severity of the illness but seeing more cases. because of that, they're telling students and staff, no reason to be alarmed but a time to be cautious and to act. that is why nyu among a growing list of universities, half a dozen you can see on the screen there, basically shifting to a remote approach in terms of
finals. students, typically the last day of classes was on tuesday, so these days are dedicated for final prep and they're home anyway. at this point, school officials will be leaning in that direction in terms of making sure they can try to slow the spread, especially of this new variant. when it comes to looking ahead in terms of after the holidays, there are well over a dozen universities across the country that have told their students to be prepared to make sure they have proof of a booster vaccination dose, including at nyu's campus. in terms of something positive to share, many universities, princeton, for example, they have an extremely high vaccination rate among students, like 98%, so that's why some of these breakthrough cases are not severe. in terms of a wider impact, even broadway, folks coming in this week to catch a show disappointed because there was a handful of shows that did have a few sporadic consolations because of some breakthrough cases within the company and
that includes "hamilton," of course, "doubt fire," and the list goes on. it's important to remember this was only a couple months after they began to open up the theaters again after the pandemic forced a closure of about 18 months. what we're seeing here, kate, is the sort of larger effort, taking out some of these older tactics to try to slow is spread, and they're dusting these off and reapplying them not only for universities but also obviously for even the theater industry as well as they try to stay a step ahead of this winter surge that all experts seem to agree, kate, is already here. >> polo, thank you very much. joining me is dr. gene marazzo from the university of alabama in birmingham. thanks for being here, doctor. our correspondents laid out kind of perfectly how it has shifted. i'm curious how you describe what's happening right now in so
many places in the country. >> i think, kate, that there is sort of a feeling of dread, at worst anticipation, at the mildest. i think there is no question based on what the united kingdom is seeing that we are almost certainly going to be in for what we're seeing already, which is an early surge, or i should say an early stage of the surge that is probably going to be informed my omicron. elizabeth pointed out something very important. it is reassuring that these infections seem to be less severe, but that's really only true probably if you're a healthy person who's been immunized and ideally immunized with three shots. if we have enough of these infections, which it looks like we're going to, our health care system has, again, the potential to be really overwhelmed. and honestly, i'm really concerned that physically and
emotionally our health care workers and our infrastructure just can't take it. >> you're getting at something i wanted to ask you about. it's a little bit of a tug and pull. you have that and that. cornell shutting down all in-person activities, for example, reporting over 900 cases, but they're saying they still haven't seen any severe illness. i wanted to ask you how concerned we all should be if people are getting infected at an alarming rate, real outbreaks, but you're not right now seeing that serious illness we saw at the beginning of the pandemic. speak to me more about this. >> exactly. it's a really delicate balance. in a perfect scenario, i mean, it's not perfect, you don't want people to get sick, but ultimately, we would like to see a variant of this virus that causes us all to get something like a cold, right? we would get it periodically, natural infection would boost our immunity, maybe on top of that we have an annual vaccine. and that would be a really
tolerable situation, right. we could prepare for it, we could model it. what we don't know yet is what the degree of severe illness will be with this variant, and we still have so many places that don't even have primary vaccination coverage above 50%, let alone booster coverage or third-shot coverage above 50%. so that puts us in a very vulnerable position. the other thing is that this virus mutates incredibly well and incredibly fast. so i would like to say it's going to mutate towards this less severe variant, but i really don't think anybody's comfortable predicting that yet. so we are in a very tenuous place where we're still waiting for a lot of data to come in, but we've got to prepare to the extent we can for what might be another really bad wave. >> is this comes down to protocols and guidelines. in kind of this difficult spot. you're shutting down classrooms. you're shutting down broadway
shows over positive case or multiple positive cases. as you mentioned, a majority of those people in those settings involved are vaccinated. so do you think in this moment the rules and protocols that we have in place fit this new reality of the virus, or is it not matching up anymore? >> it's a fantastic question, right. and if you notice, right, the cdc has not gone ahead and said cancel in-person gatherings, don't get together in places, don't go home for the holidays with your family. i think the reason for that is, number one, we're all exhausted. i've talked to many people who are going home to see their family. they haven't seen their parents in two years. this is the first holiday. to tell those people now we have omicron, don't do it, is kind of really unacceptable. the second thing is that you can reduce your risk. if you have three shots, you've gotten the three-shot series, you wear a mask when you have reason to be concerned, you are maybe even testing yourself
before mingling with people, then it probably is a relatively low-risk situation, even with omicron. >> so it's what the guidelines are that are stated but it's also what is being not said that i think is confusing. because there's the other side of this, that does the definition of fully vaccinated need to change in this new reality. >> yes. a single dose of the j&j vaccine, certainly dr. fauci has demonstrated and even our cdc has also demonstrated, we are continuing to follow that science and it is evolving daily. as that science evolves, we will continue to review the data and
update our recommendations as necessary. >> but they haven't changed the recommendation or the definition. and in the same breath they're saying but you should get the booster. does it make any sense to you why they're not there yet? >> yeah. great question. and i think to some degree it's a matter of semantics. it's also a matter of the data literally coming out as dr. walensky said in the last 48 hours. so just in the last three days, we've had data showing particularly in the uk that three doses of the pfizer vaccine in particular is clearly superior to two two doses, right. so i think what we're evolving towards is a three-dose vaccine series, much like we use for things like hepatitis, where it will be doesz ze dose zero, one and three. they're being cautious with the data and the imply kapgss for policy. >> do you agree that the
definition and the -- a and what the cdc says, it matters? because there's been some suggestion of the definition doesn't matter. you should get it. but the definition, when it comes from the cdc, it does matter, right? >> i think it really matters. and i think that the expectation is different, right. a booster sounds like an optional thing. a booster sounds like, yeah, let me go and get my antibodies tipped off because i want to do the right thing. completing the series sounds like much more of an obligation and like something that you actually should do. that may -- it's funny what holds weight with people and makes them make their decisions. i think anything we can do to normalize the fact and the concept that a three-dose series is going to protect us against this oncoming tide is really what we need to convey. >> great to see you, doctor. thank you. >> thank you. coming up for us, hurricane-force winds, tornadoes, heavy snow, and the threat of fires.
meteorologists say the severe weather that has been pummelling the united states this week is unprecedented. the incredible pictures and the forecast next. g ♪ ♪ superpowers from a spider bite? i could use some help showing the world how liberty mutual customizes their car insurance so they only pay for what they need. (gasps) ♪ did it work? only pay for what you need ♪ liberty. liberty. liberty. liberty. ♪ spider-man no way home in theaters december 17th ♪ i'm a reporter for the new york times. if you just hold it like this. yeah. ♪ i love finding out things that other people don't want me to know. mm-hmm. [beep] i just wanted to say... ♪ find yourself in these situations and see who you are. and that's just part of the bargain. ♪
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matt, what do you know? >> kate, we're just finding out about this information as we speak. the story continues to develop. our viewers will remember it was exactly two months ago to the day that 17 missionaries, 16 of them american, one canadian, were kidnapped in a suburb outside of port-au-prince. two were released back in november, another three just a few weeks ago, and as of this morning, according to a source at haiti security forces, the remaining 12 were released by the gang called 400 mawozo, which is the gang authorities say was responsible for this. our source tells us that the remaining 12 hostages were basically dropped off in a neighborhood south of port-au-prince. they were released there, walking around the neighborhood, standing out in that neighborhood. so much so that locals, rather, alerted authorities to this group of people that have been dropped off in their neighborhood. that's how authorities came to find out that these remaining 12 hostages had been released. kate, we don't know at the moment the circumstances
surrounding this release. initially, back in october, this gang requested a ransom of $1 million per hostage for a total of $17 million. but as of now, it's unclear whether any ransoms were paid to secure this release or whether the gang dropped them off and let them be on their way. a source in haiti tell us the group members are undergoing a medical check, they look skinny. there were five children that were taken here, some as young as an infant aged 8 months, 9 months old, another that was 3 years old, another 6 years old. obviously their health is a big concern at this point, but all the remaining hostages are now free, kate. >> matt, thank you so much. we'll follow updates on this breaking news. really appreciate it. also developing this morning, unprecedented and off the charts is how this week's severe weather is being described. hurricane-force winds in places
that don't get hurricanes, tornadoes, fires, and more. thee the national weather service says this has never been seen before in the month of december. chad meyers joins us for more. how do you explain it? >> you don't. you don't. a big turn in the jet stream took all of this gulf of mexico moisture, the gulf of mexico is warmer than it should be, because of the more humidity down there, pulled up into the storm system. 20 tornadoes yesterday. now, that makes for a total of more than 100 for december alone. the normal number or average number is 23 in december. and they're mainly down in the south. but 55 reports of hurricane force wind gusts yesterday. that's more for any storm in any month in any state. so that's what we're talking about. let's go to some pictures here. video out of minnesota first. one of the first tornadoes ever
if we get this confirmed in minnesota for december, clearly an ugly scene there. an awful lot of damage done and we'll keep our eye on that story. shawnee in kansas, some of the spots got blown to pieces with 60-, 70-mile-per-hour winds and gusts to near 90. let me show you a dust storm further back out west. we'll move over here. this is garden city. the skies went dark all of a sudden and the winds blew and i'm telling you, some of these pictures, i don't know if it can last long enough on this video or not, but if you didn't see a pickup truck, if you saw a model a instead, you would swear you were in the dust bowl. no question it got nas si in kansas. in colorado springs, colorado, we had some wind gusts there showing things blowing here through the sky. there you go. that's the wind we're seeing coming out of the mountains, and, boy, did it cool down after
that. kate uingly stuff out there yesterday. >> chad, thank you. let's focus in on one area, the recovery efforts from kentucky from the outbreak of tornados there. president biden surveyed the damage and met with survivors. the president is promising that the federal government will cover the cost of part of the cleanup. joining me now for more on this is republican congressman james comber of kentucky, the most devastated areas in his congressional district. he traveled with the president yesterday. thanks for being here. we heard the president announce that the federal government is going to cover 100% of the costs of the emergency work in kentucky for the first three days. what does that mean for your district? >> it means a lot. this is rural america. rural america just doesn't have the tech base that a lot of other parts of more suburban and urban areas have. so that was the biggest concern among the county executives and mayors was.
we've got all this debris to remove, all these roads to open up. how are we going to pay for it? that was one of the things i requested, governor ba shear requested, and i was pleased he announced the federal government would pick up the cost of the cleanup. >> getting power back up and getting housing for so many people, i know some of the most immediate and pressing needs we've heard about this week. are those needs changing now? what are you hearing from folks in terms of what they need right now? >> well, we've got a lot of electricity back. the water lines are coming back online. there are still several areas in west kentucky that still don't have power or water. but the utility crews are working day and night. they're coming from all over the united states, coming in, just does your heart good to see those men and women working so hard through the cold of the night and through the rain right now. but they're doing it. the private sector has stepped up, the red cross, charitable
organizations have come in, supplies are rolling in. so in the short term, i think that everything's going according to plan, but as you know, this is going to be a very long-term process to rebuild and a lot of the homes were underinsured, some have no insurance at all. so we've got a lot of unmet needs we'll be focusing on in the coming weeks. >> the voice and meg phone that you have is what people will be leaning on in part to keep the attention on the long-term needs. partisanship around the country is at its lowest and worst level these days. there's no secret. it's unfortunately tragedies like this that remind folks there are certain things above and beyond politics. you're a conservative republican. off democratic governor. talk to me about that. how has it been working with
them? >> it's been great thus far. democrat president, democrat governor, very republican representative, and all pretty predominantly republican local officials. but everyone has put politics aside as they should. it's very important that the local state and federal governments all work together, and for the first five days we have, and i hope and pray that that will continue over the coming months. oftentimes, when you have a tragedy, the federal government rolls in and as long as cnn and fox and the news stations are covering it, they're there. once they move out, a lot of times they forget about these affected areas. i'm going to do my best to make sure that everyone remembers that. that was the underlying theme of the message that the residents in west kentucky gave to president biden when he was asked what can we do, and many said just don't forget about us. so we're going to do everything
on our part. we're working closely with senator mcconnell to make sure that the federal government doesn't forget about us. but for the first five days the response from the state and federal government has been tremendous. >> let's make sure that partisanship stays out of it and continues to stay out of it, if we can wish for one of many things for kentucky. turn only republican member of kentucky's very republican delegation to travel with the president through the -- though the entire delegation was invited. why do you think that was? >> well, the senate was in session i know yesterday, and with respect to my colleagues in the house, it was my district that he was in. it wasn't even close to another district. so that's the only answer i can give. but i can tell you this -- everyone in the federal delegation, including a cup that will don't normally sign on to very many government requests, signed on to the request to be
declared a national disaster area. thus far the entire federal delegation, including the sole democrat, everyone has been on board working together. >> it's really great to hear. necessary to continue that way. and we'll continue to hold the people of kentucky, especially in your district, in our hearts and we won't forget. that's for sure. thank you, congressman. >> thank you for covering this. >> of course. for more information about how you can help the tornado victims, go to cnn.com/impact. coming up for us, senate democrats vowed to get the build back better bill passed by christmas, but that's hit a major wall. the latest from capitol hill next. (vo) singing, or speaking.
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>> he's got big concerns still so, it's going nowhere right now. joining me is former democratic governor of montana, steve bullock, now the co-chair of american bridge 21st century. thanks for being here. you want to see the social spending bill passed. but now that it's going to be pushed to next year, an election year, do you think it will? >> look, i do think it will. and, you know, we talk about this as you said, the massive social spending bill. what this is is $40 million americans with the child care tax credit or affordable pre-k or housing. so what this really does address is some folks' everyday needs,
and i think it will ultimately get across the finish line. >> i was thinking, like you, joe manchin was once a democratic governor in a red state. you both speak the same language, you know? he's concerned about inflation. he's concerned about the cost. he's indicated that voters in west virginia don't want it or at least it's a challenge. what is the case that you make to joe manchin to convince him to get on board with the build back better bill now? >> well, i think the case that needs to be made is that there are folks urban and rural all across the country that have been hurt. and it's not just covid. look, you can look the decade from 2005 to 2015, 80% of household incomes in this country stayed flat or dropped. when you talk about what people need, they need in rural areas reliable broadband, infrastructure bill to took care of that. they need good roads and water systems, and the bill took care
of that. a quarter people in rural america pay over half of their income in rent. they need help with housing and rent. the build back better program does that. everybody can talk about the costs of drugs right now, prescription drugs. build back better does that. there are nine children waiting for every daycare spot in rural america, and build back better addresses that. finally we're starting to address the things that people talked about at their kitchen table, and build back better does that. >> and joe manchin knows that. joe manchin knows what's in the bill. so are you saying the world is -- the country is just talking about it the wrong way if it's all in there? how do you get him to say yes when he knows all the thing you just said? >> look, i think he is getting a lot closer to yes inasmuch as saying he recognizes that we need to do something. but think about this past year.
we've talked $3.7 trillion, $1.7 trillion. you know, the massive social spending bill, we haven't actually been talking about what's in it. i think senator manchin like a lot of the democrats are saying, look, we have to be fiscally responsible. don't give yourself a few trillion dollars in -- considering montana or indiana or anywhere else. republicans weren't worried about their things, but we have a real opportunity combined with the infrastructure bill to be able to address those needs that people have. i do think we'll get there. look, i'm frustrated that -- forget about me, most people out there say, look, these are these democrats fighting democrats as opposed to -- >> that actually gets to something -- more broadly,
you've been writing and talking about sounding the alarm for democrats, what you're getting at, which is the core of the problem facing democrats, especially heading into a tough midterm, is that democrats are in touch with the need of the ordinary voter is how you wrote it. why do you think that is? >> yeah. i think things get typecast or conservative media, other media certainly help that, but aren't necessarily viewed as addressing the issue someone's talked about at the table. and that's i think one of the reasons. now, my last op-ed came up when almost half of those counties in virginia democrats lost by over 70%. and you've got to show up. we've got to make both in urban and rural areas, we have to make the connection with folks' everyday lives.
most people are thinking about how's my job, how's my home, how are my schools, am i going to make it to the end of this month with a little bit of money left to spare? those were sort of the bread and butter economic issues democrats spoke about, fought for, and actually advanced. we have to make sure that people all across the country know that's what we're doing. >> governor, it's good to see you. thanks for coming on. >> great seeing you, kate. >> thank you so much. coming up for us, pro sports getting smacked by a wave of covid, like the country at large, right? the tough calls they're now making because of it. that's next. ♪ the one desire ♪ ♪ you are, you are, ♪ ♪ don't wanna hear you say... ♪ ♪
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so ditch the old way of selling your car, and say hello to the new way at carvana. the pro sports world is also struggling to stay ahead of the virus in a pretty big way. the nba and the nhl both forced to postpone games due to outbreaks. this is the first time this season the nba has had to push off games. top players in quarantine. the nfl facing double the number of positive cases this week compared to last month, now making a change. coaches and staffers in contact with players will now be required to get booster shots. joining me for more on this is
cnn's sports analyst, columnist for "usa today," christine brennan. these leagues, they mirror the communities they live in, right, but where do you think this is headed? >> we don't know, kate. i wish i knew. we certainly know what last year was like. we know that these are the winter months. we're inside more. we realize that anything could happen in terms of omicron and delta and of course covid in general. these athletes, the thing that hits me more than anything else, is these athletes and coaches have access to the greatest medicare care there is, much more than you and i. and the thought that any of them would be fighting a booster or that any of them, like aaron rodgers, would not be vaccinated, it's astounding. they get a shot for an injury. they take a pin pill or do whatever. so as role models and leaders in their communities, which i think you were alluded to, most of them are leading and doing the right thing, but they're also
mirrors of their community and the concerns about the vaccine that some people still have amazingly enough, and also just the inability to get a handle on covid, which is an american problem, not just an american football problem. >> yeah. now the nfl mandating these booster shots for coaches and staff that work directly with players. the mandate not applying, though, to actual players. why do you think that is? because in terms of the science, that doesn't make sense. >> it does not make sense. this is, again, the ongoing problem that gives us aaron rodgers, what a terrible role model he has become, or who knows how many people listen to him versus listen to their doctors. it is amazing to me, kate, that mandates were not given, that if you want to play in the nfl, you want to play nba -- and they did that, they mandated in most cases that you had to play, which is why some players couldn't play in certain cities
or couldn't play at all. and this is -- it's a privilege, not a right to be a professional athlete. i know the players union wouldn't like me saying that, but who would be given that privilege to play sports at a professional level. i don't understand in the midst of a pandemic that all measures weren't taken, that they didn't pull out all the stops. now the stops and starts, these teams in trouble, what are the protocols, what happens if a team can't play in the playoffs, these are on table in large part because one, we're in the midst of a global pandemic, and two, the nfl, the players didn't do everything possible they could, some of them anyway, to be prepared to be able to play in the midst of this pandemic. >> before i let you go, i want to ask you about other big news that's happened today. nfl's jacksonville jaguars coach, urban meyer, fired less than a year after he started. we all know that he's faced a series of controversies, no
doubt, but he's got the number-one draft pick on his team and he didn't last the season. was it the scandals or the team's record, christine? >> i think more the scandals and urban mayer's leadership style. his behavior was awful. it's a stunning fall from grace for a man who's revered in the college game. it's hard to imagine him reclaiming his reputation anytime soon, even as a tv analyst, which is where he was working as well. a disgraceful exit for urban meyer, totally deserved, totally self-induced, and stunning to see that he was just so unable not only to win games, only won two games, but also just to be able to be a decent coach and role model and do the right thing. he made the wrong mistakes at every turn. as i said, a stunning debacle for a man who's been revered in
the game for a long time. >> thank you, christine. good to see you. >> you, too, kate. coming up for up for us. kim potter, the police officer who meant to draw her taser when she shot and killed dante wright. details in a live report next. new gold bond advanced healing ointment. restore healthy skin, with no sticky feeling. gold bond. champion your skin. the living room slash yoga shanti slash regional office slash... and this is the basement slash panic room. maybe what your family needs is a vacation home slash vacation home. find yours on the vrbo app.
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their case in the trial of kim porter, a former police officer charged in the shooting death of daunte wright during a traffic stop just outside of minneapolis. porter told a judge moments ago that she plans to testify in her own defense. seen's adrianne broaddus is live outside the courthouse. what's the latest? >> reporter: well, when court started this morning, the jung asked potter if she still intended to testify, and she said yes. the judge asked her if she needed more time to think about, and her response was no, and her defense attorney earl gray also followed up and said his client has thought about this extensively. so when will potter take the stand? that is the big question. the court is taking a break right now, but before that break on the stand, their use of force expert stephen iams. he has more than 40 years in law enforcement and has trained officers in 33 countries, a
stark contrast compared to what we heard from the prosecution's use of force expert yesterday. he said that it's completely untrue when it comes to the taser not being effective. he said the taser that potter intended to pull, the taser 7 was actually designed to work better in close range, and he also refuted testimony given yesterday by the prosecution's defense attorney. listen into what he says when it comes to driving that vehicle. >> was at this point in time or -- was this -- at this point in time was mr. wright in control of his vehicle as he struggled to get back in it? >> he was not. >> the was he ever in control of the vehicle before the taser, taser, taser was shouted? >> no that i know. >> what does control mean? >> literally the ability to put it in drive and go.
>> and by contrast, the prosecution's use of force expert said on yesterday wright was in a position to operate the vehicle which could have caused harm not only to the officers but other people in the area. compelling testimony this morning. we'll be back following it for you. kate? >> thanks so much. thank you all for joining me. "inside politics" with john king begins after a break. season's greetings from audi.
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