Virus Rate Fell to 2% From 34% in One Area. But Did Anything Change?

The urgent calls from doctors to the county department of health began in mid-October, shortly after skyrocketing coronavirus cases had brought a state-imposed lockdown to the community north of New York City.

“Some patients are refusing testing because they do not want D.O.H. bothering them,” a doctor said in a message for the county health commissioner on Oct. 13.

A day later, a caller to a state complaint hotline said in a message, “I would also like to report that there is a widespread effort from the community’s leadership to discourage Covid testing.”

Two weeks after a flurry of similar messages, the positivity rate in Kiryas Joel, an ultra-Orthodox Jewish village in Orange County, plummeted from 34 percent — the highest in the state — to just 2 percent. Last week, citing “dramatic progress” on the rate, the governor eased restrictions in the zone.

The course of events in Orange County has raised deep suspicions among some health experts about the reliability of the data, reflecting broader concerns about whether top officials in New York and around the country are tracking the outbreak in ways that may not accurately capture how much the virus is spreading.

Epidemiologists suggest that officials should rely on many factors when making decisions about reopening, including interviews with health care providers, hospital admission rates and contact tracing, as well as the positivity rate, which is the percent of people who have tested positive over a particular time period.

In New York, senior officials say they use all that data, and refer to the positivity rates as merely a lead measure and shorthand.

Still, the positivity rate has become the de facto gold standard of publicly highlighted measures. For example, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, Mayor Bill de Blasio and other officials in New York repeatedly refer to the rate in pronouncements and news releases to give the public a sense of how efforts to combat the virus are going.

The concern over misleading positivity rates has come to a head in regards to Kiryas Joel, also called the Town of Palm Tree, a densely populated Hasidic village of 26,000 people that is about 50 miles north of New York City, and among the poorest communities in the state.

In Orange County, the local health commissioner, Dr. Irina Gelman, said she was concerned about easing restrictions because she had serious doubts about whether the suggested decline in virus cases was real. She said that even though more people in the ultra-Orthodox community were reporting to doctors with symptoms or exposure to the virus, fewer of them were agreeing to be tested, reducing the positivity rate.

“This is an alarming trend,” Dr. Gelman said. “Refusing tests, clearly, makes it very difficult as far as gauging the infection prevalence rate within the community.”

“To go from a 34 percent positivity rate down to a 4 percent positivity rate when the “micro-cluster/ hot zone” schools did not actually shut down — and just converted to “child care”— is something many

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Darien’s Virus Cases Up By 8%: Agency

DARIEN, IL — Darien saw an 8 percent rise in coronavirus cases in the first four days of last week, according to the DuPage County Health Department. The department has not updated its statistics since Thursday, citing a problem in reporting from the state Department of Public Health.

The partial week’s 8 percent rise is higher than the entire previous week’s increase, which was 7 percent.

The number of reported cases in Darien is now 447, up 34 from the week before. The number of those who are considered recovered is unavailable.

The number of local deaths from the coronavirus was eight as of Sunday since the pandemic’s beginning, the same as it has been for weeks, according to the health department.

Here’s a look at the coronavirus numbers:

Date

Darien

DuPage

April 1

15

379

April 12

40

1,165

April 19

47

1,693

April 26

60

2,447

May 3

80

3,663

May 10

83

4,615

May 17

94

5,892

May 24

107

7,063

May 31

113

7,717

June 7

116

8,120

June 14

125

8,434

June 21

131

8,684

June 28

140

8,944

July 5

142

9,315

July 12

147

9,721

July 19

155

10,185

July 26

170

10,880

Aug. 2

184

11,458

Aug. 9

198

12,229

Aug. 16

216

12,880

Aug. 23

229

13,765

Aug. 30

252

14,459

Sept. 6

264

15,296

Sept. 13

280

15,997

Sept. 20

298

16,559

Sept. 27

317

17,435

Oct. 4

325

18,174

Oct. 11

354

19,269

Oct. 18

385

20,715

Oct. 25

413

22,339

Nov. 2

447

24,042

Darien’s rate of increase of 8 percent was the same as DuPage County as a whole. Darien makes up 2.3 percent of the county’s population, but only 1.9 percent of the county’s coronavirus caseload.

As of Sunday, Darien had 20.7 coronavirus cases per thousand people, better than most of its neighbors. The figure compares to 19.5 in La Grange Park, 22.2 in Western Springs, 25 in Clarendon Hills, 26 in DuPage County, 26.4 in Elmhurst, 27 in Hinsdale, 29.1 in La Grange (including unincorporated La Grange Highlands), 31 in suburban Cook County and 31.8 in Burr Ridge.

As of Sunday, Illinois’ coronavirus case count increased to 417,280, up 12 percent from a week earlier. The coronavirus has claimed the lives of 9,792 state residents.

Nationally, 9.1 million people have caught the virus, up 6 percent from the week before. A total of 229,932 people have died from the virus in the United States.

IL Reports Almost 7,000 New Coronavirus Cases, Another Record

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This article originally appeared on the Darien Patch

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Gottlieb pushes back on Trump’s comments of ’rounding the corner’ on virus: ‘Things are getting worse’

Former Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Scott Gottlieb is pushing back on President Trump’s repeated comments that the U.S. is “rounding the corner” on coronavirus.



a man wearing a suit and tie looking at the camera: Gottlieb pushes back on Trump's comments of 'rounding the corner' on virus: 'Things are getting worse'


© Greg Nash
Gottlieb pushes back on Trump’s comments of ’rounding the corner’ on virus: ‘Things are getting worse’

Gottlieb told CBS’s “Face The Nation” o Sunday that “things are getting worse.”

“Things are getting worse around the country,” he said. “I think Thanksgiving is really going to be an inflection point. I think December is probably going to be our toughest month.”

Gottlieb said states are “seeing accelerating spread” and the U.S. is “at the beginning of what looks like exponential growth in a lot of states,” including those in the Midwest, the Great Lakes region, Texas, Illinois, Florida and Wisconsin.

“These are very worrisome trends,” he said. “There are about 23 states right now that are accelerating the spread.”

The former FDA official said 15 states have a positivity rate above 10 percent and all of the states are experiencing “an expanding epidemic right now.”

The New York Times documented a record high for new U.S. cases confirmed in a single-day on Friday, at nearly 100,000.

The newspaper categorizes 41 states and territories as places where new cases are “higher” and “staying high.” Eight states and territories were considered places where new cases are “lower but going up.” Almost 30 states and territories are experiencing increasing death tolls.

Overall, the U.S. ranks as the country with the most cases and deaths, with more than 9.1 million cases and 230,732 deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

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Nebraska virus deaths could surge if current trends continue



A sign greets visitors outside the Curb Event Center at Belmont University as preparations take place for the second Presidential debate, Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2020, in Nashville, Tenn., during the coronavirus outbreak. Governors of states including Tennessee, Oklahoma, Nebraska and North Dakota are all facing calls from doctors and public health officials to require masks. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)


© Provided by Associated Press
A sign greets visitors outside the Curb Event Center at Belmont University as preparations take place for the second Presidential debate, Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2020, in Nashville, Tenn., during the coronavirus outbreak. Governors of states including Tennessee, Oklahoma, Nebraska and North Dakota are all facing calls from doctors and public health officials to require masks. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — The recent surge in coronavirus cases in Nebraska has prompted one expert to predict that the number of deaths in the state linked to the virus could nearly quadruple by the start of 2021.

Dr. James Lawler, a director at the University of Nebraska Medical Center’s Global Center for Health Security in Omaha, said Friday that the state could have more than 2,500 COVID-19-related deaths by January if current trends continue without more stringent public health measures or better compliance with the measures already in place. The state has so far reported 652 deaths linked to the virus.

“If the outbreak continues at this pace, and we don’t implement much more stringent public health interventions — or at least if we don’t get people to adopt those behaviors, which ultimately is the most important thing — I think we could easily see three times the total we’ve seen so far,” he said to the Omaha World-Herald.

Nebraska reported 1,087 new virus cases Saturday to give the state a total of 70,732 cases so far. The rate of new cases in the state ranked sixth-highest in the nation Saturday.

And the number of people hospitalized with the virus set another new record at 612 Saturday. That is more than 2.5 times the spring peak of 232 set on May 27.

The rate of new cases per 100,000 Nebraska residents over the past two weeks registered 694.56 on Saturday, according to an Associated Press analysis of data from Johns Hopkins University.

The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases in Nebraska has risen over the past two weeks from 795.71 new cases per day on Oct. 17 to 1,019.29 new cases per day on Saturday.

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Dozens of inmates test positive for virus at San Diego federal jail, defense attorneys say

Petco Park anchors downtown San Diego.
Downtown San Diego. (K.C. Alfred / San Diego Union-Tribune)

At least 56 inmates tested positive for the coronavirus last week at a privately run federal jail in downtown San Diego that houses mostly pretrial inmates, according to defense attorneys briefed on the matter.

The GEO Group, which contracts with the U.S. Marshals Service to operate the Western Region Detention Facility, is in the process of testing all inmates there “whether or not they are showing any symptoms,” according to Kathy Nester, executive director of Federal Defenders of San Diego.

“Today we received confirmation of a large number of positive tests arising from that ongoing testing,” Nester wrote in an email Friday.

She said 286 inmates were tested Thursday, and of those, 56 tests came back positive, 114 were negative and 116 were pending.

Another 221 tests were submitted Friday, with all of those results still pending, according to Nester.

She said information about the apparent coronavirus outbreak was provided in a Friday phone call with the Marshals Service, which gives Federal Defenders regular updates “advising us of our clients who have tested positive and when there are ongoing quarantines” at its facilities.

“We are extremely worried about the rate at which the coronavirus is spreading through our detention facilities and the impact that will have on our clients and the community at large,” Nester wrote.

A spokesperson for the GEO Group referred a request for comment to the marshals. Calls to the San Diego-area office of the marshals were not answered Friday.

According to the GEO Group, the Western Region Detention Facility can house up to 770 inmates and is accredited by two national correctional organizations.

In April, Voice of San Diego reported that inmates at the facility reported cramped conditions at the jail that did not allow for social distancing. According to the declaration cited in the report, written by Federal Defenders senior litigator Joshua Jones and signed March 31, inmates at the facility reported several other safety concerns, including a lack of hand sanitizer in housing units and a scarcity of soap.

A study published last month in the Annals of Epidemiology found that “jails are epicenters of COVID-19 transmission in the United States.”

The study’s authors wrote that jails “present an ideal setting for infections to spread” because “incarcerated individuals are at higher risk for infection due to unsanitary living conditions and inability to socially distance.” Additionally, the authors wrote that “correctional officers rarely have public health training, and correctional health systems are chronically underfunded.”

Two of the study’s authors, from Stanford University, said an outbreak inside a jail threatens the community outside because “the people who work there enter and leave every day. They can take the virus out into the community when they go home at night.”

The apparent outbreak at the Western Region Detention Facility follows an outbreak at the Metropolitan Correctional Center, another federal jail in downtown San Diego.

As of Friday, there were three confirmed COVID-19 cases among inmates at

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Police bust New York City party on Halloween; England to enter 4-week lockdown; virus top campaign issue

Multiple countries in Europe are again entering lockdowns as cases surge in the United States, propelling COVID-19 as a central campaign issue yet again in the presidential race.

Former Vice President Joe Biden says President Donald Trump has been unable to control the pandemic: “We’re gonna beat this virus and get it under control and the first step to doing that is beating Donald Trump,” Biden said.

Meanwhile, Trump continues to minimize the virus’ impact. Trump told Pennsylvania voters that his administration has done “an incredible job” dealing with the pandemic. He repeated a months-old promise that the mass distribution of a vaccine was “just weeks away.”

Daily infections are at an all-time high in the U.S. heading into Tuesday’s election, according to Johns Hopkins University.

📈 Today’s numbers: The U.S. has reported more than 9 million cases and more than 230,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The global totals: 45 million cases and 1.19 million deaths.

🗺️ Mapping coronavirus: Track the U.S. outbreak in your state.

This file will be updated throughout the day. For updates in your inbox, subscribe to The Daily Briefing newsletter.

Police bust New York City party with nearly 400 people on Halloween

Police charged nine organizers in a bust of an “illegal bar/party” that had nearly 400 people in attendance in New York City, the NYC sheriff announced Saturday.

Police shut down the gathering held inside a Brooklyn warehouse early in the morning on Halloween.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Saturday warned against Halloween gatherings that increase the risk of transmitting COVID-19, tweeting “Halloween should be spooky, not scary.”

The guidelines tweeted by Cuomo say parties are particularly risky because they can bring together people from different areas for a long period of time.

— Joel Shannon

British PM announces new, four-week lockdown in England

British prime minister Boris Johnson announced plans Saturday for a four-week national lockdown in England starting this week that will shut pubs, restaurants, entertainment facilities and nonessential businesses.

Schools, universities and manufacturing facilities will remain open during the period from Thursday until Dec. 2.

“Unless we act, we could see deaths in this country running at several thousand a day,” Johnson said.

Johnson said that individuals will only be allowed to leave their homes for specific reasons like medical appointments, shopping for essentials, education and work that cannot be done from their residence.

“No one wants to be imposing these kinds of measures anywhere,” the prime minister said, but added that “no responsible prime minister can ignore” the rising number of COVID-19 cases.

Professor Chris Whitty, chief medical officer for England, told reporters at a news conference that England is experiencing 50,000 new cases daily and that the figure is rising.

Doctors groups rip Trump for touting baseless conspiracy over virus death count

Medical groups are slamming President Donald Trump for resurfacing a baseless conspiracy on campaign stops that doctors are inflating the number of COVID-19 deaths in the USA in order to drive

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New Mexico Marks Grim Milestone With Over 1,000 Virus Deaths | New Mexico News

By SUSAN MONTOYA BRYAN, Associated Press

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico on Friday marked a grim milestone, as deaths related to the coronavirus topped 1,000.

The statewide toll surpassed the mark with the addition of 13 more deaths, the most in a single day since the pandemic began. They included two women in their 20s and another in her 30s who all had underlying conditions.

The tally came as New Mexico struggles with increasing rates of spread and record daily case totals and hospitalizations. In just a week, the number of deaths in the state jumped by about 43%. Nationally, the U.S. is averaging just over 800 coronavirus deaths a day, up about 14% over the past two weeks.

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham ordered flags to fly at half-staff starting Monday for a week of mourning. She called it “an unfathomable tragedy,” saying the drumbeat of a few more deaths every day should not diminish the acute feeling of loss.

“Every one of these 1,000 New Mexicans was loved by someone. Every one of these 1,000 lost New Mexicans leaves a hole in a family, a community, our state. I grieve with them. New Mexico grieves with them,” she said in a statement.

On the eve of Halloween, emergency alerts sounded on cellphones across the state: “EXTREME NM virus risk.”

State health officials renewed their pleas that people adhere to the public health order, which calls for residents to stay home whenever possible, limit contact with others and wear face coverings, among other things.

State health officials also have limited indoor dining at restaurants to a fraction of normal capacity to prevent the spread of COVID-19. As restaurants struggle for financial survival, the city of Santa Fe has extended all street- and sidewalk-dining permits for six months while elected leaders in Las Cruces renewed an emergency proclamation related to the pandemic and authorities in Albuquerque vowed to extend their public health order enforcement blitz at least through the weekend.

State officials and administrators from some of the largest hospital systems in New Mexico have been warning that the health care system could be overloaded if the trends continue. They say their COVID-19 units are seeing between three and four times more patients than earlier this year when the state was experiencing its first surge.

Hospital officials in New Mexico said the demographics are different this time around, with more young people being admitted.

While nearly 60% of the deaths in New Mexico have been people over 70, Human Services Secretary Dr. David Scrase noted during a briefing this week that all age groups have been setting new records with regard to daily case totals. On Thursday, the state smashed a previous record, reporting 1,082 cases for the day.

While daily cases were still above 1,000 on Friday, hospitalizations reached another high of 334. State officials say it’s the eighth consecutive day New Mexico has set a record for total COVID-19 hospitalizations.

State data also shows more than 17% of

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U.S. Lifts Cruise Ship Ban; Deaths in France Surge: Virus Update

(Bloomberg) — New U.S. cases rose to a record of more than 89,000 after four consecutive days of increases, and now total over nine million. New Jersey reported the most Covid-19 patients in intensive care in four months. Utah’s governor called for anti-mask protesters to stop demonstrations at the home of a health official as the state again reported record cases.

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Global cases surpassed 45 million. Italy and Greece reported infection records, increasing pressure on their governments to follow Germany and France in further tightening restrictions on public life.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said it would lift a ban on cruises in U.S. waters, even as government scientists warned that ships remain vulnerable to deadly outbreaks.

Key Developments:

Global Tracker: Cases surpass 45.3 million; deaths top 1.18 millionHospitals are under strain from Poland to UtahPfizer, Astra vaccines in accelerated U.K. reviewsOperation Warp Speed could shape up to be an $18 billion bargainLockdowns overshadow record growth in euro area’s big fourHow do people catch Covid-19?: QuickTakeVaccine Tracker: Clinical trials restart in hopeful sign

Subscribe to a daily update on the virus from Bloomberg’s Prognosis team here. Click CVID on the terminal for global data on coronavirus cases and deaths.

Trump Administration to Put 180-Day Ban on Many Asylum Requests (5:23 p.m. NY)

The Trump administration is expected to announce a 180-day ban on a range of asylum requests citing the threat posed by the coronavirus, according to two people familiar with the matter, in its latest effort to restrict immigration ahead of the Nov. 3 election.

Under the new rule, anyone entering or trying to enter the U.S. by land from Canada or Mexico would be ineligible for asylum — and subject to removal — because of potential national security threats to the U.S. amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

Colorado Issues Warning on Hospitalizations (5:09 p.m. NY)

Colorado health officials warned that rising hospitalizations could soon strain the medical system, surpassing records from the outbreak last spring within two weeks. “There is a small window to improve transmission control over the next few weeks,” said Dr. Jonathan Samet, dean of the Colorado School of Public Health. In a statement, state health officials said intensive care units could filled by December or January.

Denver has ordered most businesses to limit capacity to 25%. Pueblo, the state’s ninth largest city, imposed an overnight curfew amid a deadly surge.

France Reports Biggest Death Toll Since April (4:51 p.m. NY)

France reported the most daily Covid-19 deaths since April, the same day a lockdown came into effect aimed at slowing the spread of the virus.

An additional 545 people died from the virus, bringing the total to 36,565, France’s public health agency said on its website on Friday. Confirmed cases rose by 49,215 to 1.33 million, the second-biggest increase, trailing only that of Oct. 25.

The country has closed bars, restaurants, and non-essential services until at least December, while allowing schools and most businesses to operate. President Emmanuel Macron says the

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Virus Hospitalizations Are Up in N.Y.C. But This Time, It’s Different.

At one New York City hospital, coronavirus patients began arriving a few weeks ago from Brooklyn neighborhoods and nearby suburbs that have seen a resurgence of the virus.

But in contrast to March and April — when so many seriously ill New Yorkers flooded into the hospital, Mount Sinai, that a field hospital was erected nearby in Central Park — patients were showing up in smaller numbers and were often less sick. After treatment, they were going home.

“There is a much lower recent mortality rate,” said Dr. David Reich, the president of the hospital, despite the fact that the number of people being treated for Covid-19 had grown from the single digits in August to 56 on a given day last week.

As virus cases surge nationwide, hospitals around the country, particularly in rural areas of the Midwest, are seeing their largest uptick yet of critically ill patients. Some have begun to fill to capacity — an autumn wave of the pandemic that appears to get worse each day.

In New York City, hospitalizations have been slowly but steadily rising, eliciting painful memories of the surge of infections in the spring that killed more than 20,000 people. But the terrifying inundation of patients that overwhelmed hospitals then has yet to materialize again in New York City, even as cases rise.

Broad acceptance of face masks and social distancing has helped curb the spread of the virus, public health experts said. Fewer cases means fewer patients, allowing hospitals to better care for those who do come through the door.

And while there is no cure for Covid-19, doctors, nurses and other medical personnel in New York City have used their experiences during the spring surge to make significant improvements in hospital care.

Across the city’s public and private hospitals, patients with an illness serious enough to need treatment are given a diagnosis and cared for more quickly, spend less time on average in the hospital and are less likely to end up on mechanical ventilation, doctors and hospital executives said.

Fewer are dying: 139 people in the four weeks ending last Saturday. On the worst day during the spring, New York City recorded over 800 confirmed and probable deaths.

That trend has been mirrored in other parts of the country and world, as studies have begun to show lower death rates.

“You would expect there would be a lot more in the way of hospitalizations and deaths and, happily, there are not,” said Dr. Mitchell Katz, head of New York City’s public hospital system. He noted that at the peak in April the city’s public hospital system had more than 900 critically-ill Covid-19 patients on ventilators. On a recent day there were nine.

“How can I call that a second wave?”

Public health officials and epidemiologists had expected a resurgence of the virus in New York as the weather cooled, but many believed its impact would likely be less devastating than in the spring. Now, about 460 people are hospitalized

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NYC hospitals prepare for virus resurgence

NEW YORK (AP) — Like battle-hardened veterans, New York City hospitals and nursing homes are bracing for a potential resurgence of coronavirus patients, drawing on lessons learned in the spring when the outbreak brought the nation’s largest city to its knees.

The new playbook derives from the apocalyptic days of March and April, when testing and resources were scarce, emergency rooms overflowed, and funeral homes stacked corpses in refrigerated trailers.

Those insights, however hard won, make it far less likely that the city’s hospitals would collapse under a second wave of COVID-19, health care leaders said.


Even without a vaccine, doctors are touting increasingly effective coronavirus treatments, three-month supplies of personal protective equipment and contingency staffing plans.

Similar preparations are underway at New York’s hard hit nursing homes, which accounted for a staggering percentage of the state’s coronavirus deaths.

“We didn’t even have testing in February when there was so much transmission,” Dr. Mitchell Katz, head of the city’s public hospital system, said in an interview. “I can’t see how we’d ever have the same situation that we had in March and April, but we are preparing for that possibility anyway.”

Not only has critical care improved, Katz said, but coronavirus patients also are generally “not getting as intense as an exposure as they once did because of the wearing of masks.” New cases also are afflicting younger people, who are less likely than older patients to need hospitalization.

“Our hospitals are still quieter than they would have been a year ago because people are avoiding care out of concerns about COVID,” Katz added. “We can have several hundred additional patients and still not be full.”

New York has recorded nearly 37,000 new COVID-19 infections in October and is on pace to have more than double the number of people sickened this month as fell ill in September.

But so far, that increase has led to only a modest uptick in hospitalizations. On average, about 45 people a day have been admitted to New York City hospitals each day in October, city statistics show, up from an average of 29 per day in September.

That compares to an average 1,600 per day during the worst two weeks of the pandemic in March and April — a time when the state also recorded its highest daily death tolls and ambulance sirens became an ominous soundtrack to the city’s out-of-control pandemic.

Last week, by contrast, the city’s 11 public hospitals had six total intubated patients — down from a peak of 960.

The relative quiet stands in stark contrast to hospitals in Europe and the Mountain West that have been increasingly overwhelmed by new surges.

“The measures that were put in place seem to be working,” said Dr. Fritz Francois, chief medical officer at NYU Langone Health, alluding to widespread mask use, social distancing and authorities’ focus on hot spots in pockets of the city.

“Even if we see something of a resurgence,” Francois said, “the outlook is that it’s not going

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