COVID-19 Update Rabbi Dr Glatt: Why this Tremendous Surge Now all Over Frum Communities?

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Rabbi Aaron E. Glatt, MD

We are again at a crossroads. Both in the Jewish calendar, entering into Yom Kippur, where life and death decisions will be made, and in the world of COVID-19, with a disconcerting continuing rise in cases in our area, where life and death decisions will be made.

Mi Bamageifa” (and who will die by plague…):

In just the past 24 hours, I have been inundated with numerous pressing shailos from communities all over regarding COVID-19 exposures. Here are but a few of the quarantine questions that Rabbonim and shul presidents have asked me.

“Our Rosh Hashana chazzan said wearing a mask was too difficult. He davened for the amud without one. He developed symptoms and tested positive the following day…”

“Our Rav gave a drasha on Rosh Hashana without a mask. He turned positive the next day…”

“A Rebbi (who was also a chazzan in a shul) did not wear a mask in his school or shul. He turned positive after Rosh Hashana…”

All wanted to know – does everyone in shul / school class need to quarantine?

Speciously, many people remain unconcerned about their spreading COVID-19 and ruining Yom Kippur and Succos for everyone they come into contact with, as evidenced by the laxity in some communities and some individuals regarding masking and distancing compliance. Based on what?

To remove any doubts about the scientific truths to date, these are the undisputed COVID-19 facts.

Worldwide to date:        Cases: 31,672,300;   Deaths: 972,081

United States to date:   Cases:   6,897,661;   Deaths: 200,818

The U.S. this week has an average of 41,490 new COVID-19 cases daily, up 13% from the average seen two weeks ago. That comes to 13 new cases / 100,000 population. At least 27 states are now reporting increased cases compared to just 9 states on September 14. On average, the U.S. is seeing ~ 770 daily deaths, and a model from the University of Washington predicts the U.S. death toll will double to 400,000 before the end of the year. The U.S. accounts for 4% of the world’s population, but has ~ 20% of the world’s deaths from COVID-19. Dr. Michael T. Osterholm, an excellent reputable senior epidemiologist at the University of Minnesota, stated: “I think we’re just in the beginning of what’s going to be a marked increase in cases in the fall. And it won’t be just a testing artifact, either. This is real.”

Israel: Sadly, acheinu beis Yisroel has been averaging well over 4,000 new cases daily, a rate of 47 new cases / 100,000, a rate 3.5x the U.S. incidence, a rate higher than any other country in the world at this time. Today there were 6,782 cases. Hospitals in Israel are nearing overload, surpassing the safe number of patients that they are able to care for. Hashem yeracheim.

5 Towns: Each one of the 5 Towns falls in the highest new case incidence numbers for Nassau County. Lawrence holds the number one spot in the County for the last 8 weeks, with Cedarhurst 3rd, followed by Great Neck 4th, Woodmere 5th and Hewlett 6th. Inwood is 8th.

Far Rockaway: FR has the distinction, along with 5 other neighborhoods (Midwood, Borough Park, Williamsburg, Kew Gardens and Bensonhurst) of accounting for 20% of all new NYC cases.

How do you think these / our neighborhoods are described in the lay press and by the Department of Health? What type of comments do you think are being made on polite social media, never mind on the dark web and nefarious sites that always besmirch us.

Why is this happening now?

This all “re-started” with the flagrant disregard for scientifically vetted guidelines around weddings and kiddushim, large public gatherings, with many people eating unmasked and in close proximity.

What proof exists, you may ask, that such events indeed cause suffering? Maine public health officials just published a shocking report of an August 7th wedding in Millinocket, Maine. At the wedding, guests ignored social distancing guidelines and mask recommendations. The results: 135 guests got COVID-19, with 7 guests DYING from this wedded bliss exposure. Do you think that young couple will ever be able to look back happily at what should have been one of the most joyous events in their life, knowing that their “simcha” was the cause of so much misery? This wedding is just one in a list of several studied “superspreader” events in the country over the summer. How many more are still to occur?

Do we all have such a short collective memory of what happened Purim and Pesach? Have we forgotten the numerous funerals and shivah calls that we zoomed? Aren’t we “gomlei chassadim”?

How can any person insist on their ‘right’ to not wear a mask when it will potentially cause a fellow person to die? When it might perpetuate a vile chilul Hashem that our community does not follow public health guidelines? How many yeshivas and shuls have to be publicly quarantined before we realize the bittul Torah and bittul tefillah betzibbur that we have caused?

All of this can still be avoided by following the simple – and not so difficult – halachic obligation to mask and social distance. This statement is based on my conversations with numerous poskim from all aspects of the frum community.

Rabbi Axelrod, shlita, will be giving his inaugural Shabbos Shuva drasha this motzei Shabbos, September 26th, at 9:00 PM. He asked me to please still give my COVID-19 update Zoom talk before his shiur, which I will do from 8:15 – 8:45 PM this motzei Shabbos. You can join both sessions via:

Zoom at Meeting ID 980 3243 6809; Password: SUMMER2020;

or by phone: 929 205 6099;

or via YouTube link obtainable from [email protected].

Obviously, there will not be talks motzei Shabbos Succos / Shmini Atzeres, and based upon need, we will see when future talks will be given.

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A couple of important brief news items worthy of dissemination.

From The NY Times (based upon unpublished research from the Riken Center for Computational Science, a research institute in Kobe, Japan, a city noteworthy for saving many Holocaust refugees and housing Yeshivas in WW II):

Plastic face shields do NOT prevent the spread of microscopic airborne particles created by such activities as talking, singing or sneezing. Such shields do almost nothing to stop the spread of microscopic airborne droplets that are a major vector for spreading the disease. While I have reported that face shields may be somewhat protective for teachers and others wearing them while working with unmasked children, they are almost completely ineffective at protecting others from the wearer’s own droplets, according to Makoto Tsubokura, a professor at Kobe University and the lead researcher on this project.

From Eurosurveillance

A laboratory marker measuring the ability to perform aerobic exercise was lower in military recruits who recovered from symptomatic COVID-19 versus recruits who had not had COVID-19. Decreased pulmonary aerobic capacity was observed in even such young individuals recovered from COVID-19. Long-term effects on lung function have been noted after even mild to moderate influenza infection and appear to be present after COVID-19 as well. Additional research to understand the incidence and long-term consequences is needed.

From JAMA Internal Medicine:

Recombinant human granulocyte colony–stimulating factor given to patients with a very low lymphocyte blood count appeared to prevent progression to severe disease and death in COVID-19 patients. A very preliminary report, but another potential line of therapy.

From the MMWR:

While early in the pandemic, COVID-19 incidence was highest among older adults, this picture has drastically changed and may explain in part the decreased rate of hospitalizations that we are experiencing and allowing for less severe disease presentations. During June – August 2020, COVID-19 incidence was highest in persons aged 20 – 29 years, who accounted for > 20% of all confirmed cases.

Important to remember however is that younger adults do contribute to community transmission of COVID-19. Across the southern United States in June 2020, increases in percentage of positive COVID-19 testing results among adults aged 20–39 years preceded increases among those aged ≥60 years by 4–15 days. What this means is that the next two weeks are very important in determining what the current increased caseload will mean to the ‘at greater risk’ populations. The authors therefore strongly stated that strict adherence to community mitigation strategies and personal preventive behaviors by younger adults is critical to reduce infections and subsequent transmission to persons at higher risk for severe illness.

From the MMWR:

Fortunately, influenza activity is currently low in the United States and globally, although cases have been reported already this season in our region. An important and lifesaving additional benefit from masking was described in this important paper.

Following widespread adoption of community mitigation measures to reduce COVID-19 transmission, the percentage of U.S. respiratory specimens submitted for influenza testing that tested positive decreased from >20% to 2.3% and has remained at historically low levels. Data from Southern Hemisphere countries also indicate little influenza activity. The global decline in influenza virus circulation appears to be real and concurrent with the COVID-19 pandemic and its associated community mitigation measures. However, it remains critically important to get vaccinated against the flu. Influenza vaccination for all persons aged ≥6 months remains the best method for influenza prevention and is especially important this season when COVID-19 and influenza virus will cocirculate.

From the MMWR:

Symptoms associated with COVID-19 infection are Boruch Hashem milder in children compared with adults. However, we should not mistakenly think that all children will have unimportant mild clinical illness. There tragically have been 121 COVID-19 associated deaths among children aged < 21 years reported to the CDC by July 31, 2020. 12 (10%) were infants and 85 (70%) were aged 10–20 years. 33% of the deaths occurred outside of a hospital.

Persons aged < 21 years can unfortunately get very sick from COVID-19. This paper, as well as the Eurosurveillance paper above, illustrate why this disease cannot be taken lightly by anyone.

From the BMJ (not to be confused with the BMG 🙂

Post-acute covid-19 (known colloquially as “Long Covid”) is a poorly understood multisystem disease, sometimes occurring even after a relatively mild acute illness, but more frequently in patients exposed to a higher inoculum of virus and having more severe disease. Clinical management requires a whole-patient perspective, is quite labor intensive, and has only limited benefit at best. At least 10% of people experience prolonged illness after covid-19, with a recent US study finding that 35% of people had not returned to their previous level of health 14 – 21 days after their positive test. While many of these patients recover spontaneously (albeit slowly) with holistic support, rest, symptomatic treatment, and gradual increase in activity, the true long term prognosis of long COVID-19 remain to be determined.

 

Finally, the CDC just published guidelines for holiday celebrations, albeit not the High Holidays or Succos.  (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/holidays.html). Their practical advice for secular and non-Jewish holidays are very congruent with what we have discussed many times in this venue. One part masking, one part social distancing and one part hand hygiene, sprinkled with a tremendous amount of decent seichel, will make for one very delicious safe and enjoyable holiday.

In the merit of our masking and thereby doing the bidding of Hashem,

may we all merit a gmar tov and good Shabbos.



55 COMMENTS

  1. I just wish he would say how many of these are false positives. There have been many many ppl being told one day they have it and then finding out two days later that it’s completely negative. Maybe that should be advertised as well. Instead of him bashing the entire frum community (even though he talks about chilul Hashem)

    Oh another thing- notice how it’s only schools in New York that have been shut down because our mayor is seeing how horribly the public schools are doing and is emb that the yeshivas have begun life again so he’s shutting them down. Notice how No one in Nassau county has been shut down

    IT IS ALL POLITICAL!!!

  2. As a side note, why doesn’t he compliment the schools that are working so hard on the mask rule and plexiglass and complying with cdc laws… why not bring the good up in the article too?

  3. YAY for the people doing what that they should!
    Some are false positive, many are not.

    Now both of your concerns are addressed. Do you feel better now about the increase in our communities and the hundreds of thousands who have died across the country? Are you ready to shut up and take mussar from an article saying things you don’t want to hear?

  4. Thank you Rabbi Dr. Glatt for the informative updates. Hopefully people will take precautions. While some were lax in the beginning, most were very careful. Then during the summer our politicians and mainstream scientists were telling us that the “peaceful” riots were not spreading the virus. This despite the uncanny timing of the upticks. People who were being careful simply don’t know who to trust anymore. Everyone please be careful.

  5. Because of people with the mindset like DR. Glatt is why schools are closing now.
    The cases by the frum community is evenly across the sate they are in. It is just because we have all our frum schools open now by the thousands and thousands of kids in each Community unlike any place else. That’s a fact. So when one kid is positive in the school the whole class closes down. Then the city has to get informed, then on and on, and the schools is closed. Then of course a whole bunch of kids gets tested. Then of course when there is more testing there is more cases. On and on. Then it seems like there is a whole bunch of cases. It becomes a whole commotion. Add fire to the wound With a mayer DeBlasio that has a magnifying glass on the frum community.
    Compared that to the non jewish Community. If one kid is positive at home it’s just that one kid and does not get connected to a large group. So all seems fine.
    Any wonder why in Williamsburg with
    no social distance schools did not close now, and no more cases then anyplace else. That’s a fact. I know that for a fact no matter what anyone else says. I believe some people can figure it out.
    Everyone please please use our common sense.

  6. Hi, I’m in 12th grade at one of the 5T high schools.
    It’s honestly shocking to me the blatant disregard of masks/social distancing in this community.
    My friends are more responsible in this regard in school than many adults in the 5T in public.
    Just shows me how incompetent and disrespectful adults can be. Even some teenagers can be more mature and respectful of the guidelines.
    Meanwhile, many adults/kids are sent into quarantine over YK b/c others are irresponsible.

  7. If there was harm from wearing masks all day, then all the hospital workers in NYC and Rockland County ought to be dead by now I guess.

    Since they didn’t all die in April, or May, and none of them are now disabled due to mask wearing, I think we’re all safe to wear our non-test fitted masks for a few hours a day.

  8. I’m particularly enjoying that the same people who aren’t using masks out of safek sakana have no problems violating shabbos to call Hatzala when it is not a definite life or death situation.

    But yes, let’s deflect and talk about how there are some false positives so we don’t need to be safe. And let’s further deflect and say the mayor hates the Jews who publicly and flagrantly flout the rules so it’s not on us to be safe. And yes how it’s only Jewish schools being affected since public schools haven’t opened yet and when they do it’ll be the same. Because that’s what God’s chosen people do. We show off our special status and disregard all proper advice because, hey, I made up some stuff about wearing masks all day is dangerous.

  9. Some people in this town are so selfish. Some teenagers even know better.
    When told, “please wear a mask to help others.” they say “no, muh rights”

  10. Great Job Dr. Fauc….I mean Glatt

    BS
    UPTICK
    UPTICK
    UPTICK
    UPTICK
    UPTICK
    UPTICK
    UPTICK
    UPTICK
    UPTICK

    They love it

    Did anyone care about all the other health problems in the jewish community before this? NO – because its not hot.
    Heart attacks, Obesity, Diabetes

    Shut up already

    Feel free to go back in your bunkers

    Im headin’ out!

  11. Exactly.

    Nearly everyone agrees with you. It’s utter insanity at this point. Meanwhile a bunch of people that I know that recently got COVID….all wore masks. Religiously. Swore by them.

  12. Wearing a mask protects others, not you far more than the other way around. So the people who were religious about wearing masks and still got covid are exactly the reason why everyone needs to wear a mask. You wear a mask to protect everyone else should you be covid positive but asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic. By not wearing a mask, you are not making a decision about your own health, you are instead saying your FREEDOM #Murica is more important than someone else’s life.

  13. What a Kiddush Hashem is being made by Dr. Rabbi Glatt everyday.
    The community should heed this advice and stop playing games with their health and the health of others. Masks help. Washing hands is essential. Distancing is crucial. Thank You Thank You Thank You Rabbi Glatt.

  14. If we are supposed to be wearing masks because it might help then why are Dr’s not allowed to use hydroxy which also might help?
    Let’s say there’s a 5% chance that it helps why not use it? It has been in use for decades with extremely rare instances of adverse side effect. In fact the NIH themselves recommended it back in 2005.
    My take on all this is that there is way too much politics involved and therefore I am going with the chazaka rishona of pre covid days and carrying on with my life. If someone can please explain to me what is going on I would appreciate it.

  15. How come most of the comments are anonymous?
    It seems that they are afraid.
    I think that they are afraid because they are reacting
    emotionally. They are not using their seichel.
    My comment is better be safe than sorry.
    Listen to the professionals and stop this nonsense.
    Gmar hatima tova to all.

  16. Any doctor or scientist who writes “these are the Undisputed covid-19 facts” is full of garbage. You are quoting statistics gathered from numerous and varied sources that are impossible to verify and have very different guidelines. That is obviously not scientific data.

  17. There is no law to wear a mask outside. Wearing it in a store/shul/office is a diff story but I don’t need to wear when I am walking on the boardwalk.

  18. I’ll tell you why I’m “Anonymous” – I have zero interest in people messaging me on Facebook, or any other platform.

    I’m pro mask, anti HCQ (because for those not paying attention, it hasn’t been proven to help at all, and there is a chance of significant adverse reaction. When it IS used for other things, it’s because the benefits outweigh the risk), pro distancing, and pro listening to the vast majority of the scientists.

    My son just tested positive. He either got it in shul, or his Yeshiva high school. Those are the only places he’s been, and yes, he wears a mask all day at school – and most boys don’t. A fact that his rebbe mentioned to me today when he called to check ip on him – so I know it for a fact, vs just what my son told me.

    Because he’s been wearing a mask, he was less likely to infect anyone he came into contact with at school on Monday, which was before he became symptomatic.

    If all the other boys were wearing masks, maybe my other children, my husband, and I wouldn’t be in quarantine now, trying to keep anyone else from getting sick.

    We assume he got it at school since they went to masked minyanim.

  19. Thank you, Dr. Glatt, for all of your posts! You are the voice of sanity among so many who choose to ignore the facts. I truly look forward to your comments and forward them whenever I can. Keep up the good work- many of us are counting on your knowledge- both rabbinic and medical!!!!!!!!

  20. Small uptick? Yes

    Tremendous surge? I think fauci is paying him to say this

    EXTREMELY few deaths if any

    Get off thr panic train

  21. The mask keeps the wearer’s covid viruses inside, but lets in other people’s.
    Apparently our masks have one way valves.
    So, if we want our own masks to protect us, instead of relying on masks worn by others,
    we need to turn our masks inside out.

  22. The fool stikes again. Dr. Glatt intellectually dishonest and doesn’t know anything about what’s really going on, he is a very highly indoctrinated doctor, who doesn’t have the guts to debate a real scientist live, he turned it down every single time. Shtika Kehodaah.

    They have NEVER identified the coronavirus making anyone sick, it was never identified or purifed in a microscope as required by science. They only use the PCR test which was never designed and cannot detect viruses according to the inventor of the test who won a Nobel prize, but apparently doctor that knows better than the inventor of the test.

    Goat’s blood and papaya juice tested positive for coronavirus as well proving beyond the shadow of a doubt that the PCR test is complete fraud and means nothing. You might as well be using voodoo or witchcraft to say people have coronavirus.

    you better educate yourself for your own safety and future if you listen to fools like glatt he will recommend getting the RNA Corona vaccine which will change your DNA and sterilize your family so you will not have children or grandchildren.

    Stop listening to these false prophets of Doom and gloom and learn the truth, or share the fate of the other Jews who followed clueless false leaders like the Meraglim, and rabbis who told the Jews to stay in Europe and not go to Israel in the 1930s.
    https://youtu.be/xAhFj_Rlnjs

  23. If you enter a shul without a mask, you are a rodef. You may be positive and have no symptoms, and statistically you will infect others. You will. This isn’t a joke. It’s a plague. The way you beat a plague is wear a mask! Stay away from people! If you buy into the complete lie that wearing a mask is a choice, you are listening to evil counsel. You are killing your neighbors and God will not forgive you. I don’t care if the face mask is uncomfortable! If you knowingly refuse to wear a mask you are a rodef. You should not be allowed in shul and your congregation and community should but you in nidui until you comply! The Heavenly Court will not pardon you! Turn back from evil and do good! Wear a mask! It is the only thing that works!

  24. “How do you think these / our neighborhoods are described in the lay press and by the Department of Health?” U want us to live our lives based on how the media falsely portrays us? If the media/govt say it’s evil to circumcise a baby without baby’s consent, would u follow that and tel others to follow.

  25. “How do you think these / our neighborhoods are described in the lay press and by the Department of Health?” U want us to live our lives based on how the media falsely portrays us? If the media/govt say it’s evil to circumcise a baby without baby’s consent, would u follow that and tel others to follow.

  26. “ There tragically have been 121 COVID-19 associated deaths among children aged < 21 years reported to the CDC by July 31, 2020.“
    Wats ur point? There are billions of people under 21. Ur trying to scare people about how so little covid is harmful to minors?

  27. I didn’t know that you need to be a doctor to Google things. That’s all he did here. Every word he said I could’ve also, and I only went to college for accounting and finances, not for medical.

    And for every study he dredged up on Google I can cite 10 that show the opposite of what he says.

    Right here in the Five Towns there were plenty of kiddushs as well as weddings for a long time, yet there was no uptick. So why now, Dr. Glatt ? Perhaps it’s because schools opened to a certain degree.

    See that ? I, a mere financial consultant, just said smarter things than Doctor Glatt.

  28. And we wonder why we do not have a beis hamikdash. Amazing that in all of Rabbi Glatt’s discussions, he accuses nobody, bad mouths nobody. rather he points out that people NOT DOING something should do it and that they are are wrong for not doing something; he is never disparaging of the person, rather of the act. And yes, the person bears the responsibility for the act.
    HKBH does the same, especially this time of year. otherwise there would be no element of Teshuva. Fix the act, don’t disparage the person.
    Like everyone, I am tired. I am tired of the virus, I am tired of the dissension and I am tired of the mask. But if you read through the nonsense you have all posted here, you will see the consistency in what Dr. Glatt, Rabbi Glatt and Dr. Sicklick say. The people who are getting sick are not getting sick “even though they are wearing a mask”. They are getting sick BECAUSE the other guy is NOT wearing a mask.
    Grow up, as the Senior in HS apparently has! Wear a mask, stop mingling at the weddings, stop the nonsense of comparing eating out at a restaurant with 100 people reaching for the chulent at a kiddush. Grow up!!
    And yes, continue to trust in Hashem. we don’t know what he wants and what is in store, but we have to do what we can. Can you all honestly say that you are doing that? No, you would rather throw stones and barbs at our eminent physicians and Rabbis than wear a stupid mask. More fool you all.

  29. Ask why his private advice differs from the public advice. What he tells his family and friends does big match what he writes publicly.

  30. Dear Rabbi Dr Glatt – Given your relatively strong opinions here, is it your view that Halacha dictate we all wear masks every single winter to reduce many thousands of annual flu-related deaths (which is much lower than COVID deaths, but still material) among the vulnerable (even the vaccinated)?

    Or is there some point where the Halacha indicates the community is not required to inconvenience themselves (especially as some argue there are meaningful emotional & psychological implications as well as weakened observance and enthusiasm for religious matters, without the full benefit of community interaction) for an extended period, to reduce what is only a modest level of risks for others?

  31. Doctors and scientists are urging the public to use common sense. However, based on many of the comments here that is the last thing they should encourage in 5T.

  32. Doctors and scientists are urging the public to use common sense. However, based on many of the comments here that is the last thing they should encourage in 5T.

  33. It really shouldn’t matter how many test cases are false negatives. We are actually fortunate that some cases are false positive. But what about the cases that are confirmed positive through testing? As a Jew, I know that if we save one life, we save the world. So this rampant disregard for life befuddles me. What has happened to all of the kind and educated people who are causing this uptick? Please, let’s get our priorities straight. This plea is not frivolous, it’s about life and death.

  34. Rabbi Dr. Glatt, aside from being an expert in the field of infectious diseases, is a yirei shamayim, a talmud chacham, an anav, the quintessential mench, and someone who is working tirelessly on behalf of the klal (with no monetary compensation) to do what he believes is the right thing. Please, please keep this in mind when leaving your comments.

  35. The YouTube video you posted a link to is by a well-known crackpot.
    “The Psychiatrist Who Calmly Denies Reality”
    “Take-home message:
    – Dr. Andrew Kaufman, a psychiatrist essentially turned naturopath, has become very popular on YouTube for denying the existence of the coronavirus
    – He claims the coronavirus is instead an exosome, a natural transport vehicle made by our cells, and while exosomes do have some similarities to viruses, there is undeniable evidence that the coronavirus exists
    – Dr. Kaufman is part of a conspiracy movement that believes the pandemic is being manufactured to take away people’s rights, and his calm and confident demeanour can appear very convincing even when he makes outrageous claims like that appendicitis is simply constipation”
    https://www.mcgill.ca/oss/article/covid-19-pseudoscience/psychiatrist-who-calmly-denies-reality

  36. Raboisai: it’s almost Yom Kippur. Can we all calm down. Both sides are getting out of hand. Stop the name calling and the labeling. When you go to shul, do what your Rabbi tells you to do. And judge your fellow Jew with whom you disagree, favorably.

  37. The Beis hamikdosh was destroyed, according to that famous Gemara, because when Sinas Chinam raised its ugly head, the Rabbonim stood by and did nothing. Here, Rabbi Glatt is doing something, he’s raising his voice out of love and concern for the well being of his community, and using his considerable expertise to do so. Please G-d everyone needs his advice and this plague is beaten back.

  38. THE HEADLINE IS A LIE!!!!!!!!!!!
    there is NOT a “tremendous” surge in jewish communities. there is a slight increase from near zero to low amounts. STOP THE PROPAGANDA!!! I’m not saying people shouldn’t wear masks I’m just saying you have to face the facts which is that most of the “HOT SPOT” communities in New York have positivity rates that would be considered low in nearly all of this country

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