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INSIDE POLITICS

States Put Precautionary Measures In Place To Slow Coronavirus Spread; Coronavirus Cases Number More Than 1,000 In U.S.; Governor Andrew Cuomo: Coronavirus Crisis Could Overtax U.S. Health System; Senator Bernie Sanders To Give Campaign Updates At The Top Of The Hour; Sanders Vows To Support Biden If He Wins The Nomination. Aired 12-12:30p ET

Aired March 11, 2020 - 12:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[12:00:00]

JOHN KING, CNN HOST: Welcome to INSIDE POLITICS. I'm John King. Thank you for sharing this very busy news day with us. Joe Biden now in command of the Democratic Race after a Second Super Tuesday with big wins. We will hear from Bernie Sanders an hour from now. He now faces very difficult choice, whether to go on in this race. There's a big debate planned Sunday.

Plus, states scramble now to contain the coronavirus. Big events are banned or discouraged. More colleges and universities moved classes online and big March sporting events now also in limbo.

And the coronavirus response ramps up here in Washington, too. Congress begins negotiations on an economic stimulus package as the number of confirmed U.S. cases passes the 1,000 mark.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: I can say we will see more cases and things will get worse than they are right now. How much worse we'll get will depend on our ability to do two things - to contain the influx of people who are infected coming from the outside and the ability to contain and mitigate within our own country.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: And we begin the hour right there, with the rapidly growing number of novel coronavirus cases here in the United States and the now-furious public health response now 1,006 confirmed cases across the country that is a big spike nearly 300 more cases just in the last 24 hours.

The Trump National Security Adviser this morning with very strong words for China, accusing Beijing of a cover-up that let the virus spread around the world unchecked. This morning, more alarm bells for the economy the markets falling sharply at the open. Goldman Sachs warning investors, the bull market could soon end.

Reports say the April 15th tax filing deadline could be put off to soften the economic body blow. That economic anxiety and uncertainty is a side effect of a much-rooming public health crisis Democrats in Congress pressing the President to declaring a national state of emergency that would allow disaster relief money to be directed at the coronavirus response.

In some places, there is already dramatic action more colleges and universities canceling classes, for example, telling students to stay off campus until further notice. Ohio's Governor last night asking Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders to cancel big events planned in Cleveland.

The New York Governor establishing a containment zone around a cluster in a New York City suburb while warning the virus has "Spread much more than we know." In Washington State, Governor Jay Inslee barring gatherings of 250 or more people it is a tough decision to interrupt everyday life, but the risk of not doing it, Governor Inslee says, is also great.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. JAY INSLEE (D-WA): When something doubles every day, it gets to a very large number very quickly. So, if there are 1,000 people infected today, in seven or eight weeks, there could be 64,000 people infected in the State of Washington, if we don't somehow slow down this epidemic.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Washington State hit hard, also Massachusetts. We begin our coverage there with CNN's Athena Jones. Athena, tell us the latest there. Obviously a big conference there, blamed for a lot of the cases in Massachusetts the Governor declaring a state of emergency.

ATHENA JONES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, that's right. A conference held last month by Biogen at the hotel behind me is responsible - or the case - about 70 of the 92 cases in this state are connected to a conference held last month by that biotech company based in Cambridge, but we're also here because of all of the schools and colleges that are taking precautionary measures across the country, canceling in-person classes.

Why? Because college campuses can be conducive to contagion we're talking about large groups of students, staff, faculties, living, working, studying, eating all in close quarters, so this is all about social distancing, trying to prevent large gatherings like this and prevent the spread of this virus.

Some schools here in the Boston area and beyond are going even further than just moving classes online. They're essentially asking students to leave for spring break and not come back, at least until further notice. Harvard canceling in-person classes moving to virtual instruction about ten days from now or so when spring break ends, they're asking students not to come back after spring break, and they're even saying, we need you to move out of your dorms by this weekend.

M.I.T. is also now moving all classes online starting March 30th. Classes are canceled March 16th to the 20th. Previously, they had only suspended lectures with 150 students or more. Now, the context here in Massachusetts is that this is a state where the number of coronavirus cases has more than doubled just in the last day - 51 new cases announced yesterday, bringing the total to 92.

Again, 70 of those 92 related to this Biogen conference but lots of schools taking these steps. And social distancing and virtual instruction, those are becoming the norm or the rule here, John.

KING: Makes you snap back a little bit when you put it that way, doubled in just the last day. Athena Jones, appreciate your reporting from the ground in Boston. March, of course, a marquee month on the sports calendar, but now with the public debate about the coronavirus extends to whether fans should stay home.

[12:05:00]

KING: Just this morning, Dr. Anthony Fauci says the answer to that question in his view is a very clear yes.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FAUCI: We would recommend that there not be large crowds. If that means not having any people in the audience when the NBA plays, so be it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: CNN's Andy Scholes joins our conversation. Andy, if you listen to Dr. Fauci, so about it, from the NBA to NCAA to major league baseball, wow!

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS ANCHOR: Yes, and that's got to be startling for those leagues to hear that, because as of now, we really have not heard a definitive answer about what will happen say with March madness, John. The NCLA kind of sent out mixed messages yesterday.

They sent out a statement earlier in the day, where President Mark Emmert said their advisory panel of experts they put together, nor the CDC have advised against holding sporting events, adding that if circumstances changed, they would make decisions accordingly.

Then later in the day, they released another statement just saying they were continuing to monitor the virus and will make decisions in the coming days, but they're running out of time. Selection Sunday is this weekend. Teams need to know where they're going. Fans need to know if they can go watch their teams play.

As for the NBA, they're holding high-level discussions today and tomorrow. And according to ESPN, they have a wide range of scenarios they are discussing. The league's considering moving some games to cities that have yet to suffer outbreaks, playing in empty arenas, or just postponing games altogether.

And John, you know, we've already seen some events postponed around the country - the IVY League Conference Tournament for basketball was flat out canceled. That was supposed to be held at Harvard. There are college basketball tournaments being held, but in Cleveland, the mid- American conference has no fans in the stands, same being said for the big west conference in Anaheim.

So, some people have already made the decision to have no fans in the stands. Some big decisions still ahead, though, for the NBA, and of course, March madness.

KING: Big decisions to come, and that's both a cultural question and a big economic question. Andy Scholes, appreciate the reporting. Keep in touch as we learn more about these big decisions.

Also up on Capitol Hill this morning, a sobering reminder from Dr. Fauci about the lethality of this novel coronavirus.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FAUCI: I think if you count all the cases of minimally symptomatic or asymptomatic infection, that probably brings the mortality rate down to somewhere around 1 percent, which means it is ten times more lethal than the seasonal flu.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Dr. Jeanne Marrazzo joins our conversation. She is the Director of Infectious Diseases at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Dr. Marrazzo, thank you for your time today. The most important thing for us as we try to get through this is to go to the experts and bring people facts.

When you hear Dr. Fauci's talk like that, what does it tell you about what the federal government and the experts are learning about the lethality of this disease and their questions about, you know, the multiplication of the cases? He says it's going to get worse.

DR. JEANNE MARRAZZO, DIRECTOR OF INFECTIOUS DISEASES, UNIVERSITY OF ALABAMA AT BIRMINGHAM: Yes, I agree with Dr. Fauci, and I find that's always a good idea. He's an incredibly trusted source who's been through many epidemics and has access to great information.

And the point he's making is that people need to understand that this is potentially a really devastating epidemic that is already gaining a foothold and shows no signs of slowing down in the United States.

So, clear, consistent messaging from a trusted public health source like Dr. Fauci and some of our colleagues at the CDC is absolutely essential for people to have access to.

KING: And so, part of the question now is are states prepared and are there different strengths and weaknesses as we go from state to state, especially in the community hardest hit? Governor Cuomo of New York yesterday creating that containment zone around the New York City suburb of New Rochelle, listen to him this morning talk being how, well, we think we've got this now, but if we keep ramping up, there could be strain.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO, (D) NEWYORK: We have enough equipment. We have enough hospital beds. But if these numbers don't slow, we're starting to plan backup quarantine hospital facilities, mobile pop-up hospitals, if you will, to make sure we have the capacity for acute cases that need hospitalization.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: What is your sense, dr. Dr. Marrazzo, a, of what is the biggest need and what should the preparations be in places that are hardest hit, but also those who may be starting to see early cases, knowing what's around the corner for them a week or two or three down the road from now?

And to the average American out there sitting hearing a Governor talking about we may need a backup plan for quarantine and the like, what should you be thinking today?

MARRAZZO: Yes, it's a great question. When you hear the Governor of New York and people in New York City talking about needing a backup plan, you know that's really serious. New York is very crowded. It's got a very diverse community, lots of travel in and out.

It's also got some of the top medical and research institutions in the world, and it's also a state that has generally excellent public health and insurance coverage.

[12:10:00]

MARRAZZO: You compare that to other states where, for example, there's been no expansion of Medicaid and other opportunities to really get people access to health care. Not only that, many of those states have some of the highest co-morbidities that seem to have a big impact on the likelihood of mortality with this infection.

We're talking about diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, things that you see in abundance in some of the states that have the least resources to do good public health or clinical care.

So, I really think that the attention to those states needs to be early and aggressive. One huge challenge, John, has been our inability to really track what's going on with this infection because we've been hamstrung by the lack of availability of diagnostic testing.

And I'm sure you've heard about this. The CDC has been very behind the curve on this. We are probably about a month behind where we should be in our capacity to test, and we can't do this type of aggressive and effective public health management, such as they're doing in New Rochelle, without knowing where these infections are.

KING: Let's hope we get caught up in that month, back month behind in the testing part. Dr. Jeanne Marrazzo, really appreciate you joining us today to help us through this. I'll hope you will come back as we deal with this in the weeks and most likely months ahead. Dr. Marrazzo, thank you very much. Our White House Correspondent Kaitlan Collins is here. And you hear the doctor Marrazzo talking about how important it is to get the testing ramped up. That's been a question for the administration, a frustration for the public health community around the country. Now you also have pressure from Capitol Hill from Democrats who want the President to declare a national emergency.

This is a President who's been saying all along; the weather's going to get warm it's going to go away cases are going to disappear. What is the sentiment at the White House? They've already asked for a stimulus package which says we have a problem. A national emergency would mean we have a bigger problem.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, but as the days go by and you're hearing the sobering warnings from health officials, you are not hearing that reflected in the President's public statements and today it's really on display more than ever, when you have people like Dr. Fauci who is on the President's task force up on Capitol Hill saying you shouldn't be holding large gatherings, while the President is telling his campaign he still wants to move forward with these rallies.

He's saying it's not like the flu. The President keeps comparing it to the flu. And he is saying it is going to get worse before it gets better, while the President is telling people yesterday, just stay calm, it's going to go away.

Of course, people should stay calm at a time of panic, but the question that people surrounding the President, his own aides and advisers have, is why is he not pushing the message that they are telling people, what exactly is going to help them prepare for this outbreak that is, of course, now happening and spreading across the United States.

So you're still seeing that disconnect between the President and his own health officials, and he's still frustrated, because that's right, he did go to Capitol Hill yesterday. He walked out of that lunch with Republicans, and they did not come out with any kind of concrete plan of exactly what they're going to do to try to blunt the economic impact of all of this.

KING: Well, here's another disconnect. The President has said several times that he's in touch with President Xi of China, that President Xi is on top of this, and he believes President Xi is doing the right thing. Listen to this just a short time ago from the President's National Security Adviser.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERT O'BRIEN, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: Rather than using best practices, this outbreak in Wuhan was covered up. It probably cost the world community two months to respond. I had a W.H.O. team been on the ground, had a CDC team, which we had offered to be on the ground. I think we could have dramatically curtailed what happened, both in China and what's now happening across the world.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Covered up? Cost the world two months?

COLLINS: Saying that they missed out on two months of potential response is really staggering. But also, we knew about this in December. That's when it was first reported about this. There were warning signs flashing in January and people say the administration was slow to respond to that.

It wasn't until the end of the month, something the President has repeatedly pointed out about the travel restrictions they have imposed, but officials we spoke to, people who used to work in this White House say they don't feel like enough was done in the immediate aftermath and they hope they start taking it seriously, the President starts taking it more seriously now because they want to be able to blunt the impact so it doesn't get worse than what we're seeing playing out across the nation.

KING: Come back to this a bit later in the program, Washington's response and what comes next when we come back after a break, to 2020 politics a massive night for Joe Biden. He now has command of the Democratic Race. Bernie Sanders planning to make a statement in about 45 minutes. He is standing at a very difficult crossroads.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[12:15:00]

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We need you. We want you. And there's a place in our campaign for each of you. And I want to thank Bernie Sanders and his supporters for their tireless energy and their passion. We share a common goal, and together we will defeat Donald Trump. We will defeat him together.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: That was Joe Biden last night in Pennsylvania reaching out to a rival who now faces a moment of choosing. We are going to hear from Bernie Sanders in Vermont at the top of the hour. Let's take a look at last night and why the results in the second Super Tuesday caused such a big problem.

Michigan is really the only place you have to go. We'll look at other places, but look at this Joe Biden win in Michigan 53 percent to 36 percent. Look at the map every County in Michigan. Every County in Michigan filling in with Biden blue contrasts that to four years ago. That light blue is Bernie Sanders, when he had a stunning upset of Hillary Clinton.

Bernie sanders needed Michigan last night to give himself momentum, a win and delegates to carry on. Instead, wow! Look at that for Joe Biden. Joe Biden also won Missouri and he won Mississippi. And out west, yes, Bernie Sanders won North Dakota, but Joe Biden winning Idaho last night with 49 percent of the vote there. Again, go back four years ago Bernie Sanders won this over Hillary Clinton with 78 percent. Move back to today. We have yet to call Washington State. It's a very close race here, though, 32 percent to 32 percent if you round that up, 33 percent 33 percent, if you round it up 2,000 votes separating the two candidates.

[12:20:00]

KING: If you go back in time, Bernie Sanders won with 73 percent of the vote against Hillary Clinton. So, the overall map, if you look at 2020, filling in with Biden blue bleak for Sanders. Let's also take a look at this. One of the things Sanders told us was that he would turn out young voters in record numbers. That was his coalition.

Well, that simply hasn't happened in 2020. In Iowa, youth turnout was up a little bit, but in every other state with exit polls, New Hampshire, Vermont, Texas, Michigan and Missouri, these states voting just last night youth turnout down in 2020 from 2016. One other way to look at this here's where we are.

Joe Biden has won more than half of the delegates allocated so far. In the rest of the Democratic contests, he only needs to win 49 percent to get the majority, to be the nominee. Bernie Sanders is getting 42 percent of the delegates so far. In the contests to come, he would have to win 55 percent, a little more than 55 percent.

That math is daunting, overwhelming, some say impossible. Senator Sanders did not make a public statement last night, meeting with his campaign team today to discuss the road ahead. Again, CNN's Ryan Nobles is live in Burlington, Vermont, for us. We're going it hear from the Senator at the top of the hour, we expect, Ryan. What are you hearing from inside the campaign?

RYAN NOBLES, CNN WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: You know, John, they are being very tight-lipped as to what exactly Bernie Sanders is going to tell us here in this 1:00 pm press conference. I have to say, I've talked to numerous aides over the past 24 hours.

At no point has any aide even suggested the idea of Sanders exiting the race, but they've also been very careful to acknowledge that he has really perm performed below expectations in both of the last two Super Tuesday contests.

They expected to do much better in states like Michigan in states like Texas, you know, even in a state like California, where they expected to run up the delegate total, they fell well short of their long-term goal.

So, what is the path forward for Bernie Sanders? That is perhaps what we're going to learn during this 1:00 pm press conference. Now, what his aides have said consistently, even after the results last night, was that he had every intention of participating in the debate on Sunday against Joe Biden and that one of the things that he had really been focused on since the beginning of this race was the opportunity to debate Joe Biden one on one, and that's the opportunity that is still in front of him on Sunday, should he choose to participate. So, you know, there are a lot of mixed signals right now coming from the campaign. We know that for the most part, that Senator Sanders and his wife, Jane, have been together, basically alone since they returned here to Burlington last night, and that, basically, the counsel is between the two of them as they look for a path forward. John, we hope to get more incite sight to the status of this campaign coming up in less than an hour.

KING: Ryan, come back if you learn anything at the top of the hour. With me in studio also to share their reporting and their insights Lisa Lair with "The New York Times" Errin Haines with "The 19th", and Molly Ball with "Time"

It's a difficult moment for any candidate. Senator Sanders has run before. He knows the math of the race. I don't think he expected what we have seen in the last ten days, this remarkable Joe Biden surge.

The question is, if you're Bernie Sanders, a traditional candidate would probably say, "I'm gone, the math is overwhelming." He's not a traditional candidate. He views himself as the leader of a movement. Do you stay in, thinking you get that one-on-one debate you have something to say to Joe Biden? Maybe you dial back the tone a little bit in respect of the math?

MOLLY BALL, NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, TIME: Well, I could see it going either way, honestly. Because on the one hand, you know, Bernie Sanders has always been more of a team player than a lot of his supporters. He was never Bernie or bust.

He did, you know, endorse and campaign for Hillary Clinton quite vigorously after the convention in 2016, but he also stayed in until the convention, and that bothered a lot of Hillary's people because he stayed in past the point when it was mathematically impossible for him to win the nomination based on the delegate count.

Something weird would have had to have happened at the convention. So, did he learn from that, that something weird isn't going to happen at the convention, or do you look back on the last ten days and say, this race has been all up and down all over the place, anything could happen, we've got to stay to the bitter end, because who knows what is coming?

So, not knowing what's on Bernie Sanders' mind, I could see either being the case.

KING: The calendar, the map next week is not favorable to Bernie Sanders if you look at what's happened demographically in all the contests so far. I just want to look at what has happened so far, again Bernie Sanders ran in 2016. He was the big surprise. We all underestimated him.

We should all plead guilty to that. He ran a very strong campaign against Hillary Clinton, but look at this. His support among men from 2016 to 2020 is down. His support among independents from 2016 so now is down among whites with a college degree, down whites no college degree, down union members, down rural democrats, down. That's a pretty bleak outlook.

ERRIN HAINES, EDITOR AT-LARGE, THE 19TH: Right. And he has not made any progress with the base of the Democratic Party which is black voters. So, when he's looking at the math, I think that's the main thing that has not changed from 2016, that he is not improved with black voters, which is the path to the nomination.

If he is not able to do that, don't know what he would be able to change or do differently, especially up against a candidate who has frankly had half a century of experience with black voters, you know?

So, I don't know how he can change his strategy in a way that would get black voters on board or get him the kind of coalition, especially with older and more reliable voters, you know, between now and the convention that could really get him to make up that ground.

[12:25:00]

KING: And one of the fascinating things about Senator Sanders is he is an almost 80-year-old candidate, but he does represent - he does represent these aggressive, activist young Democrats, Democratic voters and new Democrats in Congress like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who love his energy, love his issues, position, love his fight, loving his willingness to fight the establishment. This was her take last night, AOC, as she is called saying tonight isn't good.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. ALEXANDRIAOCASIO-CORTEZ, (D-NY): There's no sugar-coating it, tonight's a tough night. Tonight's a tough night for the movement overall. Older voters, which we know are much more reliable voters, which turn out, have decisively gone to Former Vice President Biden. There's a generational divide in the Democratic Party on health care, on climate change, on foreign policy, on pretty much every policy imaginable.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: She's right about the generational divide. She's absolutely right, and it's going to be incumbent on Joe Biden. He started with an olive branch last night. He's going to have to do a lot more work there. But my question in this context - we'll come back to Biden later - is what does Senator Sanders do now, in the sense that he knows the energy, to your point?

He knows some of his supporters did not follow him in 2016 when he said it's time to get on board the Clinton train right here. How do you think about that at the moment? Not just his own future, but how does he get his supporters if his goal is, as he says, beating Donald Trump?

LISA LERER, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Well, he certainly has to take steps in that direction. He has to urge his people to get behind Joe Biden. I think it may be a little easier for him this time around than it was in 2016. First of all, his relationship with Joe Biden is very different than his relationship was with Hillary Clinton. Second of all, the Democratic Party is in this moment of existential crisis. You cannot overstate how petrified Democrats are of doing anything that could inadvertently lead to the re-election of President Donald Trump or lead to them getting blamed for the re-election of President Donald Trump, whether they are actually at fault or not.

And I think even Bernie Sanders, who has his own loyal base of support, does not want to be in that position. I think the AOC comments are interesting, because certainly, if he gets out of this race, it's going to set off a real scramble for who represents that wing of the party. Who does the torch pass to? Is it AOC? Is it somebody else?

What about Elizabeth Warren? And the final point is that these young voters that they are talking about, that they counted on, they just didn't show up. Turnout went up among older voters. We didn't see that in the races that happened amongst younger voters, and that's a real big problem, not only for Bernie Sanders, but for his sort of liberal movement.

KING: Right. I brought it up over there, but I want to bring it up again. If you look at this, just don't fault the effort. Senator Sanders has tried really hard. You see him on college campuses, and that is to be applauded. You want everybody to vote. If you're eligible to vote, no matter your age or ethnicity, whatever.

It just has not happened if you just look at the number it's just has not happened it is stunning in the sense that it's down. To the point of the relationship being different, we have seen during the debates Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders sort yucking it up during the breaks of the debate, talking to each other. And on the campaign trial in recent days Senator Sanders has been quite clear about his intentions.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Joe Biden is a friend of mine. Joe and I have known each other for many years. What Joe has said, he will support me if I win the nomination. I have said I will support him because we want to beat Trump. That goes without saying.

Biden is a friend of mine. Joe Biden is a decent guy. What Joe has said is if I win the nomination, he'll be there for me. What I have said, if he wins the nomination, I'll be there for him. Joe Biden is a decent guy, and I know that if I win the nomination, he'll be there for me. He wins I'll be there for him.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: We always say Senator Sanders is consistent on the issues and his policy views. He has been consistent on this. The question is at this moment, when the math is so daunting against you, if that is what you truly believe - and we all believe that is what he truly believes - if you stay in with the debate scheduled Sunday, can you stay in and do sort of a polite debate with Joe Biden, or is the better option if you're trying to unify the party to make the painful decision to step back?

COLLINS: Well, but that's the other question is he really has nothing to lose if he does do the debate, except besides hurting Joe Biden potentially. That really is the only factor in that. It's going to be this debate where we're now all injected with all of these coronavirus concerns, there's not going to be this live audience, just going to be the two of them.

It is going to look so different than any other debate, we've had. So that's really the question. And I think obviously Joe Biden is well aware of this, and that's why you heard him mention Bernie Sanders so many times in his speech last night.

Meanwhile, Bernie Sanders was not speaking at all, which I think is really telling of how that night just went so differently than they expected it. The fact that he went back to Vermont, made no public address and we're just going to hear about him, not until 1:00 this afternoon, I think really tells you a lot.

KING: An important moment in the Democratic campaign. We'll come back to it a bit later in the program, but when we come back after a quick break an important update from the World Health Organization on the novel coronavirus.

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