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busymama7

Could we talk about Canada and CV19?

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My husband pointed out that they have very few cases.  Or at least it appears that from the case map he looked at.   What are they doing right or is it a factor of reduced population density which was my guess?

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Here's a link to Health Canada covid-19 updates with an interactive map of total counts and rate (per 100K) cases, deaths, recovered for the country and for each province or territory: https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/2019-novel-coronavirus-infection.html?&utm_campaign=gc-hc-sc-coronavirus2021-ao-2021-0005-10020125402&utm_medium=search&utm_source=google-ads-107800103024&utm_content=text-en-434525470059&utm_term=covid 19 in canada

I'm not sure what all the reasons are that Canada has so many fewer cases. We have 10% the population of the US spread over a much larger area, so that's a help. We only have a few large cities. Quite early on in March/April, there were only 5 airports across the country that were open, allowing Canadians back home. All travellers were supposed to quarantine for 14 days. Possibly a helpful factor was that it was cold in March and April, and more people stayed inside and didn't spread the virus as much as warmer areas. 

Each province and territory has had its own responses and regulations, similar to the US and other countries. Some provinces have also gone with regional responses if there were areas of higher outbreaks (e.g., Toronto and Montreal). 

The hardest hit province is Quebec. Back in April/May they temporarily closed their provincial borders a while back and were only allowing essential workers into their province. Since then Quebec is the province that has been opening back up quicker as well. For example, they had elementary students returning to schools in May and June. There were some outbreaks in positive cases as a result. 

Currently, travel within Canada, across provincial borders, is quite restricted. While many provinces are slowly opening more businesses and recreational activities, there are plans to increase regulations regarding safe practices, such as requiring masks in all indoor public spaces. 

I'm sure to many people here, this all sounds pretty similar to what you are going through. We haven't done anything magical otherwise to keep our numbers lower. We're still going through the same uncertainties about the future as everywhere else in the world. 

 

 

Edited by wintermom
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Their population is less than California, so at least one of the factors might be population density.

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4 hours ago, busymama7 said:

My husband pointed out that they have very few cases.  Or at least it appears that from the case map he looked at.   What are they doing right or is it a factor of reduced population density which was my guess?


 

Pretty sure that is the biggest factor- no magic, no politics, no secret sauce.  

Imagine the population of California spread out over 2300% more landmass than of California.

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And Canada actually has a leader and coherent messaging that has taken the pandemic seriously from the beginning.  It's not a politicized issue.  

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A huge percentage of Canada's population is located in a few metro areas. I grew up in Toronto and the Toronto metro area is almost 6 million. The Montreal metro area is a few million, too. So I don't buy this density explanation much. 

I will say that when I was watching the situation in both Toronto and NY, because my sister had to go to either one place or the other (she was supposed to visit us for spring break, but then instead of spring break it was just COVID cancelling everything), Toronto absolutely locked down and closed everything earlier -- not earlier by date, but certainly much earlier given the number of cases there probably were. So I would guess a big part of it is just earlier lockdowns and coherent messaging. 

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Canadians aren't spread out evenly across the country. Most of them live in the Southern part of the country, and many of them in large cities.   The fact that the Yukon is full of wide open spaces doesn't impact the way the virus spreads in Montreal or Halifax or Winnipeg where people live close together.

Canada is doing better than the US for the same reason most of Europe is doing better than the US. Or Australia is doing better than the US. Their governments are behaving rationally.  They aren't politicizing it.  They waited until positivity and R0 were very low, and then opened slowly and carefully and were willing to take a step back.

In other words, the question isn't really what Canada did right, it's how many things the US is doing wrong. 

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The major factor is definitely simple population density.

Secondary factors include timing: we were being asked to shut down when there was clear worldwide evidence that this was something big (Italy, New York) but actually quite low levels of infiltration within our own borders. We got it slightly later than many countries, but shut down at the same time... so virus-wise, we were able to shut early. The timing also took serious advantage of the initial semi-panicky phase where, once you close schools and offices, no measures seem too serious.

Another secondary factor is general consistency of messaging -- yes, the messages changed over time (especially with respect to masks), and yes, they varied by province (stronger measures in provinces with stronger presence), but, overall, it felt like everyone was taking it seriously, reacting similarly, and learning from each other. The medical messaging and the political messaging were in step with each other. Politicians were enacting what medical officers were calling for.

Population density also impacts our view of the outdoors. Many Canadians can easily go for a walk while staying 2m away from everybody else: even in cities (but not necessarily in city centers) green space is part of the way our cities want to function, so usually there is enough of it. Alberta never did lock down outdoor exercise near home, whereas other provinces who did restrict that were able to watch and see what that did to our numbers. Seeing good numbers, it was one of the first things that was released in many opening-up plans.

Currently a reasonably strong factor is pride in being Canadian (ie being not-american) about our responses. If the USA is doing it 'wrong' it feels good to be doing it 'right'.

However, I think people are taking too many risks. Our low population density will slow the spread, but we are all still susceptible. Maskless shopping and indoor restaurants/bars (however spread out and sanitized) don't seem like a good idea even though we aren't seeing American style spikes... I want to end that sentence with 'yet' -- and I'm not doing those things myself.

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2 minutes ago, CuriousMomof3 said:

Canadians aren't spread out evenly across the country. Most of them live in the Southern part of the country, and many of them in large cities.   

Jinx... 

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Alaska has very low case counts too. Granted, there are not the large cities that you find in parts of Canada. But there may be similar factors at play.

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1 minute ago, GoodGrief1 said:

Alaska has very low case counts too. Granted, there are not the large cities that you find in parts of Canada. But there may be similar factors at play.

We can compare Alaska to Saskatchewan or something.  But the Toronto metro area is very much like, for example, Chicago. You can compare the rates yourself. 

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9 minutes ago, square_25 said:

We can compare Alaska to Saskatchewan or something.  But the Toronto metro area is very much like, for example, Chicago. You can compare the rates yourself. 

Yes, I'm familiar with the large cities in Canada. Have been to one of them. Not doubting the stats. I read too 🙂

Edited by GoodGrief1
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1 minute ago, GoodGrief1 said:

Yes, I'm familiar with the large cities in Canada. Have been to one of them 🙂

I don't know a lot of the cities, but I did grow up in Toronto :-). And I've been to Montreal and Vancouver. 

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There's more to it than population density.  The greather toronto area has a population of 6 million.  It's as densely populated as any other US major urban area, with the exception of NYC.  Montreal and Vancouver are less populous, but similarly dense, urban areas.

I think the differences are social and cultural:

1) Socialized medicine.  Hospitals are publicly funded. Global budgets yearly - not paid by the patient or by the procedure.  So hospitals did not have to worry about decreased income when cancelling elective procedures during shut down.  Staff were not furloughed (some were redeployed to other care areas, but no furloughs that I am aware of).  Hospitals are less independent - they are all bound their own provincial health care systems.  It's much more top-down, which makes a co-ordinated pandemic response much easier to implement.  This NYT article compares the two systems nicely

Covid tests are free - cost is not a disincentive to get tested.  Hospital care is free, doctors' visits are free - cost is not a disincentive to seek care. (By free, I mean free to the consumer at the point of care.  Of course health care costs money and we all pay for it through our taxes)

2) Politicians and government have, for the most part, been acting like grown-ups and working together to do the right things.  They also seem more amenable to actually listening to their experts and acting on expert advice.  Another NYT article that explores this.

3) Canadians do not resist authority to the same degree that Americans do, and we generally are more trusting in our government and institutions.

4) Better social safety net in general.  There is less pressure to go into work sick. 

Edited by wathe
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Definitely 1 and 4 -- I forgot how much of individual medical decision making is influenced by they price ticket for Americans, and I wasn't directly impacted by job loss / work sick dynamics. Those are definitely major factors (above the ones I identified).

It's much simpler to follow good health practices in situations where good choices are as painless as possible. Paying for testing when symptoms 'seem like nothing' is risky. Paying for care is worse -- no wonder people wait! Working while slightly unwell is more tempting when the risk of job loss is devastating rather than just unfortunate. Sitting through a shut-down that effects your job is simpler when you can apply for something-like-ongoing-wages as an individual, instead of wondering if you can make life work on a campaign-style population-wide stimulus check-or-maybe-two at unknown intervals.

Although, you'd think without socialized medicine, Americans would be more protective of themselves (if not others). If any member of our family gets Covid19 and needs hospitalization, that will be a terrifying health scare -- but it might turn out just fine, and we will be left thankful for the care we receive. We won't be left with medical bills -- which I understand are no joke. Why doesn't the potential cash penalty for catching this sickness incentivize greater self-protection behaviour in the US? Why doesn't the lack of cost make Canadians the complacent ones?

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18 minutes ago, bolt. said:

 

Although, you'd think without socialized medicine, Americans would be more protective of themselves (if not others). If any member of our family gets Covid19 and needs hospitalization, that will be a terrifying health scare -- but it might turn out just fine, and we will be left thankful for the care we receive. We won't be left with medical bills -- which I understand are no joke. Why doesn't the potential cash penalty for catching this sickness incentivize greater self-protection behaviour in the US? Why doesn't the lack of cost make Canadians the complacent ones?

Idk, you’d think it would work that way.
It is, after all, the party that likes to tout “personal responsibility” that is statistically more opposed to wearing masks, against common sense precautions (open up the economy without regulations!), anti cohesive government action, and of course anti public health measures for the benefit of their communities...basically, opposed to taking personal responsibility. 🤷‍♀️
 It’s beyond bonkers and it’s bringing us all down. 😞 

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2 hours ago, bolt. said:

Definitely 1 and 4 -- I forgot how much of individual medical decision making is influenced by they price ticket for Americans, and I wasn't directly impacted by job loss / work sick dynamics. Those are definitely major factors (above the ones I identified).

It's much simpler to follow good health practices in situations where good choices are as painless as possible. Paying for testing when symptoms 'seem like nothing' is risky. Paying for care is worse -- no wonder people wait! Working while slightly unwell is more tempting when the risk of job loss is devastating rather than just unfortunate. Sitting through a shut-down that effects your job is simpler when you can apply for something-like-ongoing-wages as an individual, instead of wondering if you can make life work on a campaign-style population-wide stimulus check-or-maybe-two at unknown intervals.

Although, you'd think without socialized medicine, Americans would be more protective of themselves (if not others). If any member of our family gets Covid19 and needs hospitalization, that will be a terrifying health scare -- but it might turn out just fine, and we will be left thankful for the care we receive. We won't be left with medical bills -- which I understand are no joke. Why doesn't the potential cash penalty for catching this sickness incentivize greater self-protection behaviour in the US? Why doesn't the lack of cost make Canadians the complacent ones?

I think it boils down to to the fact that we are all less in control of our lives than we think.  Structural and social factors influence our decision-making day-to-day in ways we aren't usually aware of.  I think you are right that structures that make wise choices easier make a big difference. 

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One factor that is my own opinion is, strangely, Doug Ford's mother in law. (Yes, I know, that's a weird theory.)

We all know that people take covid19 more seriously when they see it closer to home. Doug Ford is a populist conservative Premier of Ontario (a high population province with many of our early cases), who might have followed a fairly predictable path of prioritizing economic activity and resisting health department perspectives. However, that didn't happen. I think what changed was that in mid-April (when critical decisions were being made) it got very personal for him when his wife's mother was diagnosed positive.

Of course, we can never say what 'would have happened' -- but Doug Ford has seemed out of character to me since that news. And if Ford had pursued a more standard business-first science-maybe-later course of governance, other provinces with Premiers of similar ideology (Kenny, etc) would have felt more free to follow suit. Instead most provinces have been remarkably in line with the Federal understanding of disease-vs-economy calculations: which is 'Liberal' and (roughly) more social- and less business-oriented (in general) (and thus often in conflict with said Primers). It's odd to see conservative provinces noticing things like, "Maybe these are the reasons we don't shouldn't be cutting healthcare and education funding. Maybe requiring them to be run as bare-bones operations isn't the most efficient thing. Is it possible that robust funding makes things work better in advance of a crisis?"

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24 minutes ago, bolt. said:

One factor that is my own opinion is, strangely, Doug Ford's mother in law. (Yes, I know, that's a weird theory.)

We all know that people take covid19 more seriously when they see it closer to home. Doug Ford is a populist conservative Premier of Ontario (a high population province with many of our early cases), who might have followed a fairly predictable path of prioritizing economic activity and resisting health department perspectives. However, that didn't happen. I think what changed was that in mid-April (when critical decisions were being made) it got very personal for him when his wife's mother was diagnosed positive.

Of course, we can never say what 'would have happened' -- but Doug Ford has seemed out of character to me since that news. And if Ford had pursued a more standard business-first science-maybe-later course of governance, other provinces with Premiers of similar ideology (Kenny, etc) would have felt more free to follow suit. Instead most provinces have been remarkably in line with the Federal understanding of disease-vs-economy calculations: which is 'Liberal' and (roughly) more social- and less business-oriented (in general) (and thus often in conflict with said Primers). It's odd to see conservative provinces noticing things like, "Maybe these are the reasons we don't shouldn't be cutting healthcare and education funding. Maybe requiring them to be run as bare-bones operations isn't the most efficient thing. Is it possible that robust funding makes things work better in advance of a crisis?"

I agree with you.  Doug Ford has been very un-Ford-like, and it has rubbed off on the rest of the country.

That, and the PM's wife had it early on too.   The PM followed public health advice like everyone else, and followed testing criteria at the time (didn't get tested because didn't meet criteria at the time) just like everyone else.  I think that also helped set the tone.

 

 

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The video is very good about covid, but there's a misunderstanding in comparing Freeland (Deputy Prime Minister) to Vice President Pence.

In fact, Canada doesn't always have a Deputy Prime Minister -- it's a nonstandard position that has been implemented at this time by our federal liberals *specifically* to handle in-country diplomacy with adversarial premieres. Freeland has international diplomacy (foreign affairs) credentials and is both DPM and minister of intergovernmental affairs. She is the person responsible for wrangling, sweet talking, and legitimately bridging gaps and reducing tension between the provinces and the federal government. She is good at listening to people like Ford, convincing them that she is ready and able to help them get what they want from the feds, and then actually doing that. Because that's her job. And she's good at it.

So it isn't surprising to hear Ford praise her -- she's a bridge builder. She amplifies his voice and gets him (some) things that he wants. Its in his best interests to work with her.

A Deputy Prime Minister is not a Vice President: she's a high ranking minister and cabinet minister, but not a back-up head of state. Her function is flexible, and, in this case specific to working with the geographically split voting that showed up so strongly in our recent election.

Edited by bolt.
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2 hours ago, bolt. said:

The video is very good about covid, but there's a misunderstanding in comparing Freeland (Deputy Prime Minister) to Vice President Pence.

In fact, Canada doesn't always have a Deputy Prime Minister -- it's a nonstandard position that has been implemented at this time by our federal liberals *specifically* to handle in-country diplomacy with adversarial premieres. Freeland has international diplomacy (foreign affairs) credentials and is both DPM and minister of intergovernmental affairs. She is the person responsible for wrangling, sweet talking, and legitimately bridging gaps and reducing tension between the provinces and the federal government. She is good at listening to people like Ford, convincing them that she is ready and able to help them get what they want from the feds, and then actually doing that. Because that's her job. And she's good at it.

So it isn't surprising to hear Ford praise her -- she's a bridge builder. She amplifies his voice and gets him (some) things that he wants. Its in his best interests to work with her.

A Deputy Prime Minister is not a Vice President: she's a high ranking minister and cabinet minister, but not a back-up head of state. Her function is flexible, and, in this case specific to working with the geographically split voting that showed up so strongly in our recent election.

I think it's close enough.  The Canadian PM and the US president aren't really comparable either - PM isn't the  head of state, for example, and isn't elected the same way, and doesn't have the same powers.  But the comparison is close enough for most practical purposes.

 

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11 hours ago, wathe said:

I think it's close enough.  The Canadian PM and the US president aren't really comparable either - PM isn't the  head of state, for example, and isn't elected the same way, and doesn't have the same powers.  But the comparison is close enough for most practical purposes.

 

The PM as Head of Government is functionally identical to most heads of state and is elected in one of the normal democratic ways that are currently in use worldwide. A Canadian PM and a US President are peers on the world stage. The variance of powers between the two is a function of the styles of government, not a significant difference in their role within that government. The comparison between Truedau and Trump as more-or-less similar is a legitimate. This is a comparison that is close enough for most practical purposes.

The comparison between Freeland and Pence is not legitimate because they are not at all similar.

DPM and VP have nowhere near the same level or type of authority, and nothing like the same role in government. The news reporter made an error in identifying them as similar positions based only on the similar vocabulary of "Vice" and "Deputy" -- it's evidence of lack of research leading to a misunderstanding that was reinforced in public by her report. Ford was not praising a random high-level member of the other party's governing structure who had done nothing for him. He was not showing solidarity with the Liberals in the general sense nor indicating approval of all of their pandemic policies. He was praising her because he knows her personally, and she was helping him: directly and effectively. He was signalling, "Look at the loot I got out of the feds! I like it when this happens, I'm willing to work with them when it's to my benefit. Keep sending her. Keep listening to her. Keep the benefits to my province flowing."

Do you have someone in your government structure whose specific role is to travel to adversarial states, schmooze with those opposite-party governors, and build up their goodwill? Someone who then communicates, tactfully, to the President all sorts of strategic things they might do to make those opposing states happy and grateful to the federal government? If so, that's who is "like" the person the governor would be praising: not Pence. (If not, possibly there is not American-based simile that would do the job, and perhaps the reporter should have made her point less pointedly.)

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1 hour ago, bolt. said:

The PM as Head of Government is functionally identical to most heads of state and is elected in one of the normal democratic ways that are currently in use worldwide. A Canadian PM and a US President are peers on the world stage. The variance of powers between the two is a function of the styles of government, not a significant difference in their role within that government. The comparison between Truedau and Trump as more-or-less similar is a legitimate. This is a comparison that is close enough for most practical purposes.

The comparison between Freeland and Pence is not legitimate because they are not at all similar.

DPM and VP have nowhere near the same level or type of authority, and nothing like the same role in government. The news reporter made an error in identifying them as similar positions based only on the similar vocabulary of "Vice" and "Deputy" -- it's evidence of lack of research leading to a misunderstanding that was reinforced in public by her report. Ford was not praising a random high-level member of the other party's governing structure who had done nothing for him. He was not showing solidarity with the Liberals in the general sense nor indicating approval of all of their pandemic policies. He was praising her because he knows her personally, and she was helping him: directly and effectively. He was signalling, "Look at the loot I got out of the feds! I like it when this happens, I'm willing to work with them when it's to my benefit. Keep sending her. Keep listening to her. Keep the benefits to my province flowing."

Do you have someone in your government structure whose specific role is to travel to adversarial states, schmooze with those opposite-party governors, and build up their goodwill? Someone who then communicates, tactfully, to the President all sorts of strategic things they might do to make those opposing states happy and grateful to the federal government? If so, that's who is "like" the person the governor would be praising: not Pence. (If not, possibly there is not American-based simile that would do the job, and perhaps the reporter should have made her point less pointedly.)

Sure I do.  Chrystia Freeland.  🙂

I take your point, but I still think the comparison was close enough.  There isn't an exactly equivalent role in the US, I don't think.  The point was to compare the tone of discourse between a head of provincial or state government and a high ranking (highest ranking non-head-of-government) federal government member who belong to opposing parties and have very different political ideologies.  Not to suggest that Pence and Freeland's jobs are exactly the same.

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2 hours ago, bolt. said:

The PM as Head of Government is functionally identical to most heads of state and is elected in one of the normal democratic ways that are currently in use worldwide. A Canadian PM and a US President are peers on the world stage. The variance of powers between the two is a function of the styles of government, not a significant difference in their role within that government. The comparison between Truedau and Trump as more-or-less similar is a legitimate. This is a comparison that is close enough for most practical purposes.

The comparison between Freeland and Pence is not legitimate because they are not at all similar.

DPM and VP have nowhere near the same level or type of authority, and nothing like the same role in government. The news reporter made an error in identifying them as similar positions based only on the similar vocabulary of "Vice" and "Deputy" -- it's evidence of lack of research leading to a misunderstanding that was reinforced in public by her report. Ford was not praising a random high-level member of the other party's governing structure who had done nothing for him. He was not showing solidarity with the Liberals in the general sense nor indicating approval of all of their pandemic policies. He was praising her because he knows her personally, and she was helping him: directly and effectively. He was signalling, "Look at the loot I got out of the feds! I like it when this happens, I'm willing to work with them when it's to my benefit. Keep sending her. Keep listening to her. Keep the benefits to my province flowing."

Do you have someone in your government structure whose specific role is to travel to adversarial states, schmooze with those opposite-party governors, and build up their goodwill? Someone who then communicates, tactfully, to the President all sorts of strategic things they might do to make those opposing states happy and grateful to the federal government? If so, that's who is "like" the person the governor would be praising: not Pence. (If not, possibly there is not American-based simile that would do the job, and perhaps the reporter should have made her point less pointedly.)

That is a major part of Pence's job, both in general as VP, and as the person supposedly running the COVID response. But the only way that the Democratic governors would be praising Pence would be if they felt like they had to suck up so that their state gets PPE or something.  None of them have any genuine praise of the administration.

So, the point is, "imagine if things were going so smoothly, and both parties were acting sanely, with the result that Democratic governors were praising Pence".  It illustrates just how politicized the virus is in the US, and why the lack of politicization in Canada is one of the reasons things aren't so bad. 

The fact that, in other ways, the VP's job is different, especially around succession, is irrelevant, because for the purpose of this example, Pence is the cabinet leader who is supposed to be coordinating the COVID response with the governors.  

Edited by CuriousMomof3
Grammar
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28 minutes ago, CuriousMomof3 said:

That is a major part of Pence's job, both in general as VP, and as the person supposedly running the COVID response. But the only way that the Democratic governors would be praising Pence would be if they felt like they had to suck up so that their state gets PPE or something.  None of them have any genuine praise of the administration.

So, the point is, "imagine if things were going so smoothly, and both parties were acting sanely, with the result that Democratic governors were praising Pence".  It illustrates just how politicized the virus is in the US, and why the lack of politicization in Canada is one of the reasons things aren't so bad. 

The fact that, in other ways, the VP's job is different, especially around succession, is irrelevant, because for the purpose of this example, that Pence is the cabinet leader who is supposed to be coordinating the COVID response with the governors.  

You said it better than I did 🙂

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