June 25, 2021

When this pandemic started, my daughter Sophia had recently started grade 11. That was at the time when we were all worrying about this getting totally out of control; watching those exponential-growth graphs; looking closely at the TTD (Time To Double) numbers. I can still tell you… that if cases are growing at 10%, they’ll double in a week. At 6%, it’ll take 12 days.

Slowly, those percentages dwindled to the point where they became far less concerning… and, eventually, irrelevant. Today’s percentages are actually close enough to zero that unless something drastic happens, I should just remove them. But in March of 2020, that number was over 40% in Quebec… a TTD of 2. Cases doubling every two days. Today, that number is 0.02%. Go Habs.

And that’s not the only thing that’s changed. Sophia went from grade 11 to grade 12, and today is the last day of that particular adventure. Right around the time I’m posting this, she and her classmates will be walking across the stage, receiving their well-deserved awards and diplomas, and putting the whole high-school experience (with a pandemic thrown in for good measure) behind them.

The crappy part is I can’t be there. I’m watching the livestream from home, as are all the other parents. The good part is that family from all over the world can also watch. And even though I’m not there, I think the screaming and cheering at the TV will be loud enough that even though the school is several kilometres away… they’ll hear it.

For Sophia, the end of a big adventure… and, also, the start of an even bigger one.

For us… well, this uncalled-for adventure isn’t quite over yet… but if we were all in grade 12, we’d be at the point where the final papers are all handed in, and all of the exams have been written. The stage is set… and soon, we all get to walk across it. And then we get to collectively throw our caps (ie masks) in the air and, with the same sense of anticipation being felt by this awesome group of graduates… get on with our lives.

June 15, 2021

I managed to get out to the racetrack last night, for the first time in ages. It was wonderful to see many familiar faces, many of whom are reading this (Hi again!)

My horses didn’t win (a second and two thirds), but, regardless, just being there was a win. A huge win.

On a similar note, I look at the graph on the bottom left… the inter-provincial vaccination rates, which is some ways has turned into a two-horse race; Quebec out in front and B.C. trying to catch up… and never quite getting there. But again, there are no losers in this race… only different rates of winning.

And… on that note… in the global vaccine horse race, check out the next two graphs. As of this moment, when it comes to “at least one vaccination”, Canada is number one in the world. And if this were a music chart, we’d be number one with a bullet.

Just a month ago, we were behind the U.S, Israel, the U.K. and Chile. And… we are now ahead of all of them. The steepness of the angle with which that thick red line cuts through all of them is impressive. Let’s hope we don’t chart like a one-hit wonder that starts tailing off, never to be heard from again.

That being said, the graph on the right tells an important story; the darker colour means fully vaccinated. Above that is the single-dose crowd. By that measure, we’re still far behind… but…

… as per below, you can see the rate at which we caught up and continue to run. It’s impressive, and there is, from everything I can tell, no letting up. Recent numbers in Canada have implied that the anti-vax crowd has shrunk… and that the sum of “hesitant to no way” is now below 10%. All of this while we’re vaccinating 450,000 arms a day, whether it’s first or second dose. More than one out of 100 people is getting one shot or another… every single day.

The staggeringly impressive drop-offs in case numbers is indicative of a strategy that seems to be paying off… what’s better, give a single dose to 100 people, or fully vaccinate 50 and leave the other 50 un-jabbed. Clearly, from what we’re seeing – and as much as some might disagree with messing with the science – it would appear the former strategy, the one Canada adopted a while back… was the way to go. “Lots of people who may get a little sick” is a lot better than “some people who won’t get sick, coupled with others who definitely will.”

I think the analysis, in hindsight, will show that single-vaccine people infect far less people than those with no vaccination… so illness (serious or not aside), the more people are jabbed, partially or not, the quicker this all goes away. We’re in the home stretch.

June 2, 2021

Shocking news to report… we didn’t win the Lotto Max. And… nobody else did, either. I’ll spend a bit of time analyzing whether what I predicted was in any way statistically significant. Of the top 10 tickets generated, 5 of the 7 numbers picked were on them. Never more than 2 together though. I’m not sure if a monkey throwing darts would’ve done better, worse, or simply the same.

In the meantime, other numbers… my vaccination numbers and graphs differ from the official ones because I’ve never used “eligible people” as a denominator; I’ve always simply used everyone. That two-month-old baby? One day he’ll get a C19 vaccine – not sure when… but as far as vaccinated/not-vaccinated, I’m counting him.

As such, here’s something interesting; in Canada, at this moment, B.C. has taken the lead with respect to vaccinated population. We’ve vaccinated 61.3% of everybody (at least one jab). Now in second place is Quebec (61.0%). The country overall is at over 58.4% with at least one dose (which is really good), and 6% fully vaccinated (that certainly has a ways to go).

The next big issue will be vaccine passports or immunity certificates or green passes or whatever you want to call them. Many countries and even some provinces are starting to talk about how it’ll look, how it’ll be implemented and how it will affect things. The “Freedumb!!” crowd will start screaming, etc… perhaps without realizing that vaccine passports in some fashion have been around for centuries, and many places have always required them… for your protection as well as theirs. Of course, the vast majority of people complaining are not those who typically travel to malaria-infested river basins or parts of the world known for Dengue Fever outbreaks.

Just remember, the couple dining next to you in the restaurant has rights too. They have to the right to know they’re in a safe environment. And the restaurant itself has rights too… to do whatever they want to provide that.

May 23, 2021

I hope you got your good dose of sunshine in yesterday, because around here, we’re back to “the usual” for a week. The big Vancouver Weather Wheel (VWW) has only three sections… “It’s about to rain”, “It’s raining” and “It just rained.” A recent spin landed in section 2, and that’s where it’ll sit for a while… and actually, that’s ok. The freshest air on the planet exists when things transition from section 2 to section 3.

The other thing going on these days is the transition from the NHL regular season to the NHL playoffs –lots of rain equals Spring equals NHL playoffs… and there’s an interesting correlation… you can sort of map playoff performance with Covid-19 numbers.

Here in B.C., our numbers have recently tanked, which is very good. The Canucks have also tanked… which is good or bad, depending on whether you like to see a strong finish or a better draft pick. Either way, both our pandemic numbers and our team’s performance have crashed down noticeably. Playoffs? LOL.

One province east of us is Alberta, whose pandemic numbers were riding high. Also riding high were the Edmonton Oilers… who seem to have hit a brick wall when they entered the playoffs. And right around the time the Oilers began their journey to falling down two games to zero to the Jets, so did their C19 numbers. That’s an impressive meltdown, their daily new-case numbers… falling like a rock. Much like the Oilers’ chances of getting much further in the playoffs. They might go down 3 games to 0 to the Winnipeg Jets, who are flying high these days.

Unfortunately, so are the C19 numbers in Winnipeg. Manitoba is the one province that isn’t yet headed in the right direction, though perhaps they’re turning the corner too.

As has happened numerous times in the past, the Leafs and Habs are battling it out; that series is tied, similar to the C19 numbers in those two provinces, as far as things getting better… though I’d have to give the “trending advantage” to Quebec… which, in this warped correlation of mine, is good news for Leafs fans.

Two of those four teams will meet in the next round of the playoffs, and only one will make it to the semi-final round… where they’ll run into an American powerhouse team.

I hope at that point, the team is Las Vegas… and I hope that’s there this correlation breaks down. Las Vegas numbers are looking so good these days, the place is almost back to normal. They’ve already thrown the doors open in most places, and will do so entirely in the next couple of weeks; any Las Vegas hockey game will play to a packed house, and that’d be a great way to watch a game… whether live or on TV. I’ve been to games in Las Vegas; usually it’s the Canucks getting beaten up, but it’s always a memorable experience… one I hope to partake in once again, sooner than later. I don’t see myself in that crowd anytime soon… but watching something that real will be a very good indication we’re in the final stretch.

And, for what it’s worth, it rarely rains in Vegas.

May 17, 2021

Encouraging local numbers today… and if you don’t like analyzing numbers, just look at the pretty pictures… specifically the B.C. one… which, in a nutshell, shows the rise and fall of the 3rd wave. Our numbers these days are exactly where they were at in early March, when things started to go sideways.

And, actually, not sideways… just up… sharply. But as you can see, as quickly as they went up, they’ve come down. That little plateau was in the second week of April, and it’s been downhill (in the good sense) ever since then. What’s going up sharply these days is the temperature… and vaccinations.

Looking across the country, as it turns out, nobody has managed this third wave as well as B.C. Quebec would be a close second though; their worst is over and they’ve slid down to the bottom of their own hill.

Alberta has turned the corner, but has a ways to go. Saskatchewan as well, though slower… but Manitoba is still arguably headed in the wrong direction; really not sure what happened there, but this week will tell a lot.

And Ontario… certainly headed in the right direction… their daily numbers and their average is lower… but it’s still wildly volatile and it always feels like they’re near a tipping point. Aided by warmer weather and lots of upcoming vaccinations, their worst is also likely over.

I don’t want the maritimes and the northern territories to feel left out… all looking good.

Locally, nothing will change before the May long weekend… but, by then, we may be poised to see some significant relaxations. Don’t hold me to it; I don’t make the rules… but given all of the above, given what we’ve learned in a year, given where we are with vaccinations, given what we now know about the colossal difference in risk between indoor and outdoor gatherings, given that we know it’s a tiny number of people who infect lots of others.. not everyone infecting one or two others… given all that, it wouldn’t be difficult to put some rules in place that really open things up in an effective way.

To be honest, they would’ve done it already if they could count on people sticking to the important parts. Like, golf? Out golfing with friends? Risk of transmission on the golf course… near zero. Risk of transmission on the 19th hole, downing a pitcher of beer? Much higher. Can we count on people to play a round of golf, but then not spend three hours in a crowded, poorly-ventilated pub? This is where the give an inch/take a mile issues come into it, and managing that, going forward, will be the bigger challenge.

March 7, 2021

We’ve all had colds before… the little sniffles. It’s annoying, but nothing some chicken soup and/or lemon tea and/or NeoCitran and/or a warm blanket and/or lots of water can’t cure.

And if someone said to you ok… here’s the deal… the pandemic is now over, but you have a 50% chance of catching a mild cold in the next 6 months… would you take it?

The overwhelming “HELL YEAH!” that you’re all screaming leads to a path we’re on now, though probably not by original design… because there’s a fundamental aspect to C19 and vaccines that perhaps wasn’t entirely expected, but that emerging data suggests… which is that a single shot of any vaccine of our “big 4” – Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca and now Johnson and Johnson – prevents serious illness 100% of the time. Yes, it’s a bold statement, one worthy of marketing departments… but this one is coming from the science.

Two shots of Pfizer and Moderna suggest a 95% chance of not getting sick at all… and the appropriate doses of the other ones also suggest a remote chance of illness if you follow the directions… but proper recommended usage aside, one single shot… and you’re good.

Entering the mix (in Canada) as of Friday is the newly approved J&J vaccine… which, in the context above, is a true game changer. Its numbers don’t reach the lofty heights of 95% efficacy, but it’s becoming apparent that’s not so important. Should we take the Ferrari with a top speed of 340km/h? Perhaps the Porsche, but it only goes to 280kmh. How about the Tesla, which accelerates faster than those two… but is capped at 200km/h?

Dude, we’re going to the 7/11 that’s a block away. Take the bike. Or walk. We don’t need to get fancy here.

The J&J vaccine efficacy is in the 65%-75% range… compared to the 95% of Moderna and Pfizer. J&J serious illness and death rate 28 days after the dose (at which time its full effects have kicked in): Zero. Not a single case of hospitalization or death.

From a “fancy” point of view, J&J isn’t top 2… but who cares. It gets us there… and it does so in game-changing ways: It’s single dose, and it’s easily stored at convenient temperatures… for months. Don’t like needles? It’s only one. Don’t like side-effects? Far less reported with J&J. Allergic to preservatives in vaccines? J&J seems more tolerable. And, unlike mRNA vaccines, this one is optimized to both antibody and T-cell responses. Accordingly, it doesn’t need tuning to new variants… and therefore has been shown to be more effective against the South African variant. Pfizer and Moderna have modified their vaccines for these new variants, but J&J doesn’t require it… which implies it probably won’t require it for future variants either.

Red-lining the first doses seemed a little premature and perhaps not-so-well thought out when it started. In fact, I wrote some words to that effect; why mess with the science? The answer to that rhetorical question is the basis of science itself. To some extent, we’re all part of a big experiment… but assuming it’s being handled correctly, we should be able to trust the results… and the results are telling us a lot. Different people interpret them in different ways, but this is all not speculative guesswork… there’s a method to the madness. For example, it’s dawned on me that perhaps the province of Quebec has no intention of *ever* giving out second doses of Pfizer or Moderna… because, as per above… what’s better…. 95 people out of 100 who will never get sick at all… or, 200 people, none of whom will develop a serious illness or die? They’re betting on the latter, and so far, perhaps correct in their assumptions. Their hospitalizations and ICU admissions have been trending sharply down consistently; just look at the pretty pictures. They might just keep doing this until the pandemic fizzles out, and the answer to “When do we get our second shot?” will be “Next flu-shot season”.

The issue with vaccines that we’re quickly approaching has more to do with vaccine acceptance, though that’s also turning a good corner in some places. There seems to be a core of around 20% of people that adamantly refuse to consider the vaccine. The other 80% has been a spectrum based on hesitancy, but it’s mostly sliding in the right direction; more and more people seeing what’s going on around them and realizing that indeed… the vaccine is useful, the vaccine is safe and the vaccine is an integral part of all of us getting back to normal. That’s here in Canada. Our neighbours down south?

Last November, before any vaccines had actually been approved, 51% of Democrats said they’d get vaccinated when possible… as opposed to 43% of Republicans. Asking that question today yields this: 78% of Democrats would say yes… but only 47% of Republicans would agree. In fact, 44% of Republicans say, adamantly, “Never”. Interesting — but not surprising — that their cult leader and his entire family all quietly got vaccinated when no one was looking.

I’ll stop here because you know exactly what the next 3 paragraphs would say.

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February 28, 2021

Welcome to the end of February. Tomorrow begins March… and you’ll recall last year, March 2020 felt like the longest month in history. To some extent, it’s been a year but it feels like we’re still in it. Happy Sunday, March 334th.

At this time last year, Canada had seen 15 cases of Covid-19. Seven of them were here in B.C. Another 7 were in Ontario, and the other was in Quebec. By the end of March 2020, Canada had over 8,000 cases and 100 deaths. A month later, the case-count was over 50,000 and the deaths were around 3,000 and we were all freaking the hell out.

We’re all too exhausted to be freaking out anymore, and we’ve realized the numbers didn’t follow that trajectory. Had they, my quick math implies we’d all have caught it by the end of July, and we’d all have been dead by the end of Summer. None of that happened, and none of that will… but it’s worth thinking back to how things felt at the time, just to remember that things can change quickly and we shouldn’t take anything for granted.

On the flipside, like a lot of people, I’m actually starting to wonder what society is going to look like after this is all over. Many profound changes, and I’m not just talking about remote work and Zoom and virtual offices and things like that; let’s recall that in no small part, the end of the 1918 pandemic launched the roaring 20s… a decade of romanticised, glamorous fun that lasted until the economy collapsed and The Depression took over.

But here’s something else that with great subtlety changed the world drastically…

Up until 1918, there were steam cars and there were electric cars… and internal combustion cars were around, but not so popular. People with steam cars used to fill them up at horse troughs… free water, everywhere… but, with the pandemic, and standing water being a great collection point for mosquitos, those troughs got covered up… and the car manufacturers like Henry Ford seized that opportunity to tell the world how awesome gas-powered cars were. No waiting for it to charge, no waiting for the water to heat up, no chance of a steam explosion. Gas stations sprung up everywhere… and a hundred years of R&D that’s gone into gas-powered cars might have gone into steam-generated engines and/or electrical systems and batteries. Hard to imagine what society might look like… and how it would’ve evolved… without this dependency on oil.

I wonder what’s changing these days that’ll have such a profound effect on the entire world. What will they be talking about 100 years from now as one of the largest radical shifts caused by all of this?

I don’t know… I’m just asking the question… but happy to hear you thoughts.

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February 25, 2021

Leap years… leap seconds… even, with some calendars, leap months… these tiny (or not-so-tiny) course corrections are necessary because, unfortunately, the earth doesn’t rotate exactly every 24-hours, nor does it orbit the sun exactly every 365 days. At the moment, one rotation is 23 hours, 56 minutes, 4.09053 seconds. One year is 365.2422 of those rotations. These are not nice, round numbers to work with… and even if they were, the earth is slowing down, so it’d all have to change eventually. In fact, they change continually.

The people who manage all this keep careful track of it, and often fiddle with it without us even knowing. If you weren’t aware of it, you certainly would’ve missed the extra second that was tagged on to New Year’s Eve in 2016. Approaching midnight, the time went from 11:59:58… to 11:59:59… to 11:59:60 (!) before continuing on to 12:00:00am, January 1st, 2017.

If those little adjustments didn’t take place, the errors would accumulate. The sun would start rising and setting at weird times. It would snow in Spring and get super-hot in late Autumn. And, once in a while, having not kept up with the corrections, some abrupt fixes would need to be implemented.

The calendar we’re all familiar with is the Gregorian calendar, which was preceded by the less-accurate Julian calendar… and not everyone switched over at the same time. While the Gregorian calendar was adopted in places line France, Italy and Spain back in 1582, it wasn’t until 1752 that the U.S. and Canada switched over… and since the Julian calendar is less accurate with respect to leap-anythings, it was falling further and further behind. In 1582, it required a 10-day adjustment. When Canada and the U.S. did it, it required 11 days… and when Turkey and Greece finally made the change, less than 100 years ago, they had to drop 13 days from existence. History is full of stories of landlords who tried to charge a full month’s rent during those half-month switches; you can imagine how popular that was…

Indeed, that’s what happens when you keep letting errors pile up; they become more difficult to correct down the road.

All of this is relevant because of the data and charts you see attached to this little blurb… and it has to do with the inconsistency of the data with respect to testing and cases and deaths and vaccinations. Like I wrote about recently, if you have one watch, you know what time it is. If you have more than one, you’re not so sure.

I have managed, I think, to consolidate and normalize all the data so that going forward, it’s not quite so apples-to-oranges. But to get things to align, there’s a bit of a Julian/Gregorian leap-year adjusting to do. In some calendar switchovers, a February 30th was added just to make it work; think of it like that.

Actually, it’s not so bad… but here’s what’s changed, if you’ve been following closely:

The U.S vaccination number has gone down. I’d previously been getting a number that was confusing with respect to its allocation of first and second doses. The number now is up-to-date, and certainly only first doses. It’s also dropped the vaccinated population percentage from 20% down to less than 14%.

While it’s important to know how many doses have been dished out, it’s more important to know how many individuals have had at least one. Now, for all the data, … U.S., Canada and all the provinces, those numbers should be accurate and far-more up-to-date than before for “at least one dose” – as well as the vaccinated population percentages that go along with it. Note how Quebec seems to be way ahead of other provinces; in a way, they are… that’s an accurate representation of first doses they’ve injected. Along with that goes the not-so-irrelevant-fact that they still have yet to dish out a single second dose.

The other number that changed radically is Ontario. They had 1,138 new cases today, and that’s what I wrote down… even though the case counts grew by 5,000. Why? Because the new data source is a bit more ahead of the game; they tap into the individual health departments instead of reporting the single province-wide number that’s relayed daily. Ahead or behind the curve isn’t as important as it being the correct curve, and that representation hasn’t changed. Now that everything is newly-aligned, it should work just fine going forward… but looking at today’s data feels a bit like those lost 10 or 11 days… like things don’t add up. But they do.

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February 18, 2021

Around five years go, Donald Trump famously said that he was so popular, he could stand on Fifth Avenue in New York and shoot someone, and not lose any voters. Indeed, I have to agree… anyone today who’d consider again voting for Trump is certainly someone whose mind is made up to the point where him murdering someone in cold blood would do little to change it.

What’s presently left of the Republican Party is full of people like that, who realize that no matter what, they’re now dealing with an unshakable core… and, therefore, anything goes. While it was Trump who took that limelight for the better part of four years, he’s presently faded from the forefront, some it’s up to some other despicable full-of-crap demagogue to step up.

Enter Ted Cruz, who didn’t hesitate to show America (and the world) where his loyalties lie. He fully supported Trump’s insurrection from start to finish, if for no other reason than to hold on to that core for his potential 2024 run.

But don’t let it fool you. Cruz, like Trump, cares about nothing but what matters to him… and realizing that he can do no evil, will simply do whatever the hell he wants. So… while his great state of Texas is greatly suffering from bitter storms and power outages, off he went to sunny Cancun.

Hypocrisy is nothing new for these guys, but sometimes… the “Are you kidding me?” factor is just too much. In a radio interview on Monday, Cruz told people to “stay home” and “not risk it”. And to “Keep your family safe and just stay home and hug your kids.” That was a few hours before he and his kids jetted off to the sunshine of Mexico. Cruz, who in the past has criticized other public officials for vacationing or golfing during times of crisis. Cruz, who violated a travel ban. Cruz, who works for a government that at present is telling everyone that Mexico is out of bounds.

Pandemic, ice storms, freezing cold, no power, people dying in the streets. Their vaccine distribution infrastructure paralyzed. More than 2,000 new C19 cases today. Whatever.

Texas is in a heap of trouble because they’re fiercely independent and their power grid doesn’t connect to the rest of the U.S… and as much as others might like to help, the infrastructure doesn’t support it. That’s a whole other story, but there are plenty of people who’d argue Texas isn’t a state but its own independent whatever that never actually whatever’d their way into the U.S. It reminds me a bit of Quebec and how every so often, likes once every generation, the “Vive le Québec Libre” bullshit fires up. When you dig into it, Québec would be an instant 3rd-world country if that were to happen… because if you’re truly independent, a lot of national things you take for granted go away.

So Texas wants their own power infrastructure; here’s an issue that might come up. But don’t worry about it… as long as their fearless leaders can jet off and leave the problems behind, no problem. Nobody will care, and Cruz will get re-elected because… well, because “Republicans” I guess, though that word has now achieved a completely new meaning. This group of “leaders” needs a different word than the same one attributed to the likes of Lincoln, Roosevelt, Eisenhower and Reagan. And their present group of followers… don’t get me started.

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February 16, 2021

Today is the day when most of the numbers catch up from the weekend gaps… and one thing is clear; they’re all mostly continuing their trend in the right direction. Cases, hospitalizations, outbreaks. deaths… the numbers tell a good story and the graphs paint a pretty picture. Especially impressive are Ontario and Quebec numbers these days; solidly trending in the right direction.

In the U.S., while possibly some of that can be attributed to vaccines, the numbers (15%) are still too low for it to make such a tangible difference. Among many other potential reasons, it’s… the masks… a policy now in place that would have had a drastic effect on the pandemic. How many lives might have been saved? That’ll be discussed for a long time, but most will agree… it’s a figure with six digits… and closer to seven, not five. Also… we’ll soon be hearing a lot about the current U.S. number of deaths; by tomorrow this time, it’ll have surpassed 500,000.

In Canada, the harsh imposition of what some consider to be overreaching orders are also having that effect. All of the “I just had to go on vacation but shouldn’t be forced to pay $2,000 for returning home” crowd… well, you’ll get little sympathy from me. Trust me, there are times when I’ve felt like saying “to hell with it” and booking us all a nice trip to somewhere sunny. What difference will it make? How bad can it be? I never get too far down the “Quick, before we come to our senses!” line of thinking, but I can see how it gets to people. That being said, that’s an explanation, not an excuse… and when all those 100+ people who flew to Hawaii over the weekend come home and are met with restrictions and derision… well, they’re adults making adult decisions. They can face the adult consequences. All of the restrictions, all of the non-essential travel that’s not going on… it’s making a difference.

On the flipside, some local games-night party with 50 people attending ended up infecting 15 of them, who unknowingly went home and then to work or wherever else, subsequently infecting a host of others. We won’t know how far that little super-spreader event will reach, but when I say all numbers are going down, there’s a caveat… which is that while the overall numbers can go down, the localized numbers can go up… in this case, Fraser Health, where numbers are indeed up – a fact somewhat obfuscated by the rest of the province. And… to be clear… one little super-spreading event, a little tail of an event… can end up wagging the entire big dog of a province.

I really hope the numbers keep going down. And they can. It’s almost like the numbers *want* to go down. We just have to continue giving them the opportunity to do so.

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By |2021-02-16T17:03:35-08:00February 16th, 2021|Categories: COVID-19 Daily Report|Tags: , , , , , , , , |3 Comments
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