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September 29 coronavirus news

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Notre Dame head coach says Covid-19 "spread like wildfire" on his team

The back of a Notre Dame player's helmet is seen during a game against the Michigan Wolverines on October 26, 2019 at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Team doctors have traced an outbreak of Covid-19 on the Notre Dame football team to two specific events, including a pregame meal, head coach Brian Kelly said Tuesday.

The University of Notre Dame announced Monday that 18 players had tested positive for the virus. Kelly told ESPN the team doctors are the ones who traced the infection to their game against South Florida 10 days ago.

Ahead of the September 19 blowout win, the team congregated for a pregame meal, and during the game, one player was treated for dehydration after throwing up on the sideline. That player later tested positive for coronavirus, according to Kelly.

“Throughout our entire time together, we had not had one meal where we sat down together. Everything was grab and go,” Kelly told said.

Stemming from their recent testing results, Notre Dame said Monday that 25 football players were in isolation with 14 others in quarantine.

“Shifting sands”: After the sideline incident in the South Florida game, Kelly disclosed the challenges of containing the virus.

“We have to think about giving antigen tests on the sidelines for stuff that we never thought of,” he said. “That’s the kind of shifting sands in this whole thing, learning in-game what do you do, what don’t you do.”

The positive tests forced the Fighting Irish to postpone last Saturday’s game against Wake Forest University. The team’s next game is scheduled for October 10 against Florida State University at home in South Bend, Indiana.

Nevada loosens limits on public gatherings, encourages corporate events to return to Las Vegas

Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak speaks during a news conference at the Grant Sawyer State Building in Las Vegas on September 29.

Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak on Tuesday announced a major loosening of the state’s public gathering rules to curb the spread of coronavirus.

From Thursday: The limit on public gatherings in the state will be raised from 50 people to 250 participants; the new limit will not include the support staff needed to put on the event. Gatherings will still be capped at 50% of a venue’s normal capacity.

Additionally, venues with more than 2,500 seats will be allowed to hold even larger events. However, they will be capped at 10% capacity, and the venue must be divided into sections which each have no more than 250 people.

Sisolak said the change is possible because Covid-19 positivity rates and hospitalizations in Nevada have gone down substantially since August, despite a small uptick in the past week. “We maintain the flexibility to dial some of these things back,” if there is another surge, Sisolak said.

“Open for business”: The governor acknowledged Nevada is trying to convince major event organizers to return to Las Vegas, even though some other states now have more lenient health restrictions. “Nevada is not only open for business, we plan to be open for the long-term,” Sisolak said. “We are focusing on your safety.”

CDC will post new guidance on cruise ships after agency's director loses fight with White House

Cruise ships are seen docked in the Port of Long Beach due to a no-sail order on April 11 in Long Beach, California.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is preparing to post new guidance Wednesday on a no sail order for cruise ships, a federal health official tells CNN.

The official told CNN the guidance will extend an order first issued in March through October. The official said CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield failed to convince the White House to extend it into next year.

The federal official declined to offer details about the new order. Axios first reported the news. 

The CDC last extended the guidance on July 23, according to its website.

Several outbreaks of coronavirus spread on cruise ships.

“The CDC Director has reason to believe that cruise ship travel may continue to introduce, transmit, or spread COVID-19,” the original order reads. “As such, the CDC Director issued a No Sail Order for cruise ships effective March 14, 2020.”

Kids need to get back to school in areas where coronavirus isn't spreading, Fauci says  

Dr. Anthony Fauci speaks during the Texas Tribune Festival.

Kids need to be back in school in areas where the virus is not spreading badly, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said Tuesday.

“The default position should be that we should always try to get the children back to school because of the well-known deleterious consequences of children not being allowed to go back to school,” Fauci said at the Texas Tribune Festival. 

Fauci said those living in areas where there’s little spread and low case numbers can send their children back to school with more confidence than those living in areas of the US where Covid-19 cases and deaths are higher.

“We must always make primary consideration the health, the safety and the welfare of the children, of the teachers and of those associated with it,” Fauci said. “So, the risk of going back is really dependent on where you are.”

Fauci has said before that the United States is so large and diverse that decisions related to coronavirus must be made on a state and a local level based on the spread of the virus in communities and neighborhoods. 

He called for hybrid learning involving in-person and online classes, depending on the spread of the virus in a community and other mitigation efforts, such as alternating classroom days, mask usage and protecting teachers who fall into high risk categories.

Parents and teachers will ultimately make up their own minds about whether to send children back in to school buildings, Fauci said.

“The bottom-line answer is always try to the best of your capability of getting the kids back to school, but there’s no one size fits all,” he said. “You’ve got to look at the relative risk to the children in the particular area, county, city, state, that you happen to live.”

Moderna coronavirus vaccine shows "acceptable safety" and immune response in older adults

A University of Miami Miller School of Medicine lab tech processes blood samples from Moderna coronavirus vaccine study participants on September 2 in Miami, Florida.

A Covid-19 vaccine developed by the biotechnology company Moderna in partnership with the National Institutes of Health has been tested in older adults and found to safely elicit an immune response in that age group, according to preliminary data.

“The immune response to many other vaccines has been shown to decrease with increasing age. Thus, the testing of SARS-CoV-2 vaccine candidates in older populations is of paramount importance, since these persons account for the majority of serious Covid-19 cases and associated deaths,” the NIH-led researchers wrote in the study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine on Tuesday. SARS-CoV-2 is the name of the coronavirus that causes Covid-19.

Moderna expanded a Phase 1 clinical trial of its vaccine, called mRNA-1273, to include 40 participants ages 56 and older. The participants enrolled in the trial between April 16 and May 12. They were given two doses of either 25 micrograms or 100 micrograms of vaccine, 28 days apart.

The trial — conducted at sites in Seattle, Atlanta and Bethesda, Maryland — found that adverse events from the vaccine were mostly mild or moderate and included fatigue, chills, headache, muscle pain and pain at the injection site. Those events were more common after the second dose of vaccine, according to the study.

One participant developed a nail infection and rash, and another had hypoglycemia or low blood sugar — but the researchers noted that those were considered not related to vaccination.

Overall, the preliminary findings showed that a two-dose vaccine series in older adults had “an acceptable safety” profile and the 100 microgram dose induced a greater immune response than the 25 microgram dose, which the researchers noted supports the idea to continue testing the vaccine at the 100-microgram dose level and as a two-dose regimen in a Phase 3 trial. 

The researchers also noted that they did not observe “systematic differences” between the older adults in this study and the younger adults, ages 18 to 55, in their original trial. But it’s not clear if the antibody responses seen in the volunteers indicate they are protected from infection, the researchers said.

More research is needed to determine whether similar findings would emerge among a larger and more diverse group of participants. Moderna is testing its vaccine in an advanced, Phase 3 trial that’s expected to include 30,000 volunteers.

US was unprepared for Covid-19 because its pandemic plan was based on influenza, Fauci says

Lawrence Wright, staff writer at the New Yorker, speaks to Dr. Anthony Fauci during the Texas Tribune Festival.

The United States was unprepared for the deadly coronavirus pandemic because its pandemic plan was based on an influenza model, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said Tuesday at the Texas Tribune Festival.

“We got hit and have been hit very badly now with 200,000 deaths and about 7 million infections in the United States – certainly disproportionately,” Fauci said.

“It shows you a couple of things,” he said. “Pandemic preparedness that we have done prior to this, for which we were given accolades for as a country how well prepared we were, were really based on an influenza model,” Fauci said, adding that public health experts were ready to fight a virus that spread mostly when people already had symptoms.

Early in the pandemic, Fauci and others said that epidemics of respiratory disease were spread mostly by people who have symptoms. It’s clear now that the novel coronavirus is often spread by people who have no symptoms. That makes it harder to fight.

It’s not an excuse, Fauci added. It’s just an explanation of why the US is seeing about 40,000 infections a day and as many as 1,000 daily deaths.

Disney is laying off 28,000 employees

In this handout photo provided by Walt Disney World Resort, Magic Kingdom Park is seen on October 8, 2014.

Disney is laying off 28,000 US employees at its theme parks as the coronavirus pandemic hammers its theme park business.  

The layoffs will hit the company’s Parks, Experiences and Products, the company said on Tuesday. 

Disney added that 67% of the employees laid off will be part-time workers. 

Virus "escalating quickly" as Canada's daily cases reach initial peak

People wait to get tested for Covid-19 at a walk-up clinic in Montreal on Tuesday, September 29.

Canadian public health officials say they are increasingly concerned about the “acceleration” of Covid-19 in Canada but say it is not yet time for nationwide restrictions or lockdowns. 

“The fact that cases are now at the same level as during the initial peak is worrisome but at the same time there are clear differences in the epidemiology with younger age groups predominating among cases and we are testing and detecting more,” said Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam.

Tam said this is a crucial moment for the country, especially in Ontario and Quebec. She warned Canadians that they need to cut down on social contacts as contact tracing is becoming more difficult and community transmission grows. 

“This means the daily case count has now reached the peak of daily cases seen in April and the average daily case count has increased to 1,412 cases being reported during the most recent seven days,” Tam said.

According to Canadian government data, there are now more than 14,000 active Covid-19 cases across the country with daily, average case counts doubling in just over two weeks. 

California loosens Covid-19 restrictions in several metro areas

Smoke from wildfires fills the air over the San Francisco and Oakland skylines as seen from Berkeley, California, on Monday, September 28.

Several populous counties in California are being allowed to reopen further as they move into less restrictive tiers, Health Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly announced Tuesday.

Sacramento, Fresno and Santa Barbara are among seven counties moving from the most restrictive purple tier into the next level, red. In the red tier, which indicates a substantial spread of infection, churches, museums, and movie theaters are allowed to reopen.

San Francisco moves from the red to orange tier, which shows a moderate infection rate, along with Amador and Calaveras counties. Bars, wineries, bowling alleys, and offices will now be allowed to reopen in those areas.

California has four tiers based on metrics including case rate and tests positivity over a number of consecutive weeks. Ghaly said that the state will be soon adding a health equity metric as well.

On the heels of a letter signed by 19 California legislators urging the reopening of theme parks, Ghaly echoed Gov. Gavin Newsom’s promise that new guidelines are coming soon.

“We’re working hard to get that out in a responsible way as soon as possible,” Ghaly said. “We are working with those industries to put out something that’s thoughtful, allows us to follow our framework in strong way, and really following those principals of slow and stringent to ensure those large activities are done responsibly. So, not quite yet, but we’re getting close.”

NFL commissioner urges league to remain diligent after expected Covid-19 cases

Following the temporary closures of the Tennessee Titans and Minnesota Vikings team facilities due to Covid-19 precautions, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell issued a league-wide memo calling for all personnel to “remain diligent in implementing all of our health and safety protocols to the fully extent.” 

In the memo, obtained by CNN from a source within the league office, Goodell acknowledged that he had expected coronavirus cases to arise during the season.

Now that two teams have had to halt in-person activities, Goodell reemphasized that all players and staff must wear personal protective equipment and to carefully regulate “behavior and contacts outside of the club facility.”  

Some background: Earlier on Tuesday, the Titans revealed three players and five staff members tested positive for Covid-19. The Vikings, who played the Titans this past Sunday, have not announced any positive cases but closed their facilities as a precaution. The Titans are scheduled to host the Pittsburgh Steelers this Sunday.  

Goodell said the league has reviewed contact tracing data for anyone who has come in close contact with the eight members of the Titans, including game officials, and has isolated the individuals. 

“Each of us has a special responsibility to keep others safe and healthy. What each of us does affects not only ourselves and our immediate families, but many others on our own club and on other clubs,” Goodell said.

Indoor dining capacity in Philadelphia will increase to 50% starting Friday

A restaurant serves take-out meals through their window in Philadelphia, on Wednesday, April 15.

Indoor dining capacity in Philadelphia will increase to 50% on Friday, according to a news release by the Philadelphia Department of Public Health.

Current capacity is at 25% and the new limits are in line with current restrictions in Pennsylvania, the release said. 

Restaurants choosing to expand their capacity must self-certify to follow state guidelines set by Gov. Tom Wolf, as well as the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines and rules set by the city of Philadelphia.

The city rules include:

  • Spacing tables six feet apart
  • Having tables with four or fewer seats for household members only
  • No seating at bar areas
  • No alcohol service except during meals
  • Improved ventilation in the restaurant
  • Servers must wear masks and face shields

“The falling case counts we’re seeing show the success of our strategy,” Philadelphia Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley said in the release. “If folks continue to follow our guidance, I believe that we will be able to relax more restrictions.”

The total number of coronavirus cases in Philadelphia stands at 36,887.

Tampa International Airport says it will offer two types of Covid-19 tests to passengers

A passenger carries her luggage through a nearly deserted terminal at the Tampa International Airport on Friday, April 24.

Florida’s Tampa International Airport today announced a new pilot program, which makes it the first airport in the country to offer two different types of Covid-19 testing, PCR tests and rapid antigen tests, for any arriving or departing passenger, John Tiliacos, executive vice president of operations and customer service for the airport said.

“We’re going to build confidence on the part of the traveling public, by giving them an opportunity to have a test done right here at the airport before they get on a flight,” TPA airport CEO Joe Lopano said during a press conference Tuesday. “This is the only airport in the whole country that is doing these tests for anybody, going to any destination, on any airline, only TPA is doing this and we hope others will follow. Testing is the key to getting people back to travel.”

According to Tiliacos, testing will be available seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. ET. Tests will be administered by BayCare nurses and medical professionals, and passengers have the option of receiving the PCR test with results within 48 hours or the rapid antigen test that gives passengers results within 15 minutes, Tiliacos said.

“This is about taking a bold step to restarting air travel. This is about instilling even greater confidence in the flying public, and frankly it’s about breathing life back into our industry that is very badly needed right now,” Tiliacos added.

These NYC neighborhoods account for 25% of all Covid-19 cases, but only 7% of the population

Medical workers attend to an ambulance gurney outside of Maimonides Medical Center in Borough Park on September 28, 2020 in New York City. 

New York City is reporting a spike of Covid-19 cases in nine neighborhoods in the city. The Department of Health released the zip codes where the 14-day average is higher than the citywide average.

The clusters across Brooklyn and Queens account for 25% of the overall city cases despite accounting for 7% of the city’s population according to Dr. Dave Chokshi, the Commissioner of the Department of Health.

Citywide, Health Department is reporting a 1.38% positivity rate over the last seven days.

Here are the neighborhoods identified by the Department of Health:

  • Gravesend/Homecrest [11223] (6.92%)
  • Midwood [11230] (5.64%)
  • Kew Gardens [11415] (3.31%)
  • Edgemere/Far Rockaway [11691] (4.91%)
  • Borough Park [11219] (6.23%)
  • Bensonhurst/Mapleton [11204] (6.05%)
  • Gerritsen Beach/Homecrest/Sheepshead Bay [11229] (4.05%)
  • Flatlands/Midwood [11210] (4.73%)
  • Kew Gardens Hills/Pomonok [11367] (3.60%)

The city is also noting three more zip codes which are “showing increased growth of cases and test positivity between 2% and 3%.” 

  • Rego Park [11374] (2.64%)
  • Kensington/Windsor Terrace [11218] (2.72%)
  • Brighton Beach/Manhattan Beach/Sheepshead Bay [11235] (2.85%)

The city said to combat these rising positivity rates it is reaching out to non-public schools about implementing new guidelines, canvassing streets and “using soundtrucks to reinforce COVID-19 guidance an precautions,” the Health Department said in a statement.

The city also said it has sent more mobile testing units to these neighborhoods.

Netherlands introduces stricter coronavirus measures as infections climb

People sit at terraces with plastic screens in Groningen, The Netherlands, on September 25, 2020.

The Dutch government announced Tuesday that it is introducing stricter measures in an attempt to clamp down on the rising rate of coronavirus infections in the country. The daily rate of reported infections is now more than double the ‘first wave’ record.

The measures include:

  • Restaurants and bars must prevent new customers from entering at 9 p.m. and close at 10 p.m.
  • Working from home should remain the norm, and if someone at a workplace tests positive, the office can be closed for 14 days.
  • Visits to homes should be limited to three guests from outside the household, whether inside or outside. Children up to 12 are exempt.
  • In buildings other than homes, the maximum gathering is four people. That means for example that a maximum of four people in one group can make a reservation at a cinema or restaurant.
  • A maximum of 30 people total can be in any one room.
  • No spectators for amateur and professional sports.

Coronavirus infections in the Netherlands are rising at a significant rate. There were 43% more reported coronavirus infections over the seven-day period ending Tuesday compared to the previous week-long period, according to the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment.

The R-number is 1.27, according to the RIVM, and a further 3,025 infections were reported on Tuesday. (The ‘first wave’ record for single-day reported infections was 1,335, set on April 10.) 

There are a number of exceptions to the rules, including for funerals, some businesses, and education.

Finland will introduce curfew for bars and restaurants

People enjoy a drink while sitting in a terrace in Helsinki on June 1, 2020.

The Finnish government will introduce a 1 a.m. curfew for bars and restaurants starting on Oct. 1.

The move, announced by the government in a statement Tuesday, is designed to curb the spread of Covid-19 in the country. It will be debated at a cabinet meeting on Wednesday, and it is expected to be approved. 

The new law will require catering establishments to close no later than 1 a.m. local time and to stop serving alcohol at midnight. It will be in place until Oct. 31. Bars and restaurants will have a transition period of a week to adapt to the new norms, which must be in full effect by Oct. 8. 

In addition to the existing curfew, throughout the month of October, the Finnish government will be monitoring the spread of Covid-19 in regions across the country. Regions where the infection rate is increasing could see a further clampdown, forcing catering establishments to close no later than 11 p.m. and stop serving alcohol at 10 p.m. 

Not having lockdowns or restrictions comes with an increase in cases, Sioux Falls mayor says

Sioux Falls Mayor Paul TenHaken on CNN's "Newsroom" on September 29.

South Dakota is seeing the highest seven-day coronavirus positivity rate in the US. When asked about the increase, Sioux Falls Mayor Paul TenHaken told CNN’s John King that his state values personal freedom — so there haven’t been many lockdowns and restrictions.

The mayor attributed the positivity rate to events, as well as schools and universities resuming.

However, the health care system is “comfortable” in handling this surge, even though he says “they are operating at a pretty intense level in terms of the cases they are seeing.”

“That being said, of course, we want to see the hospitalization numbers decrease,” he added.

TenHaken described a “light-touch government approach” to mandates and lockdowns. Instead, they focus has been on ramping up messaging.

“If we take a personal freedom approach that comes with responsibility, that comes with mask-wearing when you feel it’s appropriate, that comes with social distancing,” he said.

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More than 205,000 people have died from coronavirus in the US

There have been at least 7,159,222 cases of coronavirus in the US, and at least 205,345 people have died, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

The totals include cases from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and other US territories, as well as repatriated cases. 

So far today, Johns Hopkins has reported 11,177 new cases and 273 reported deaths. 

India's vice president tests positive for Covid-19

India's Vice President M. Venkaiah Naidu speaks at an event in New Delhi on December 23, 2019.

India’s Vice President M. Venkaiah Naidu has tested positive for Covid-19, according to a tweet posted on his official Twitter account.

The tweet went on to say that Naidu is asymptomatic and in good health after undergoing a routine Covid-19 test on Tuesday morning. He has been advised to quarantine at home.

His wife, Usha Naidu, tested negative and is in self-isolation.

New York City could implement new restrictions as early as tomorrow, mayor says

New York City could implement further restrictions as early as tomorrow, Mayor Bill de Blasio said at a news conference today.

Earlier in the news conference, de Blasio cautioned that if necessary, the city will prohibit gatherings, except small ones, and may close non-essential businesses. 

The mayor added that New York City middle schools and high schools are still on track for in-person learning on Thursday. Up to 500,000 will learn in person this week, the mayor said.

CNN has previously reported those who learn in person are not in school full-time. They are still hybrid. Other families have chosen to do fully remote learning.

“I have total faith in our educators that we will get there and be able to provide a great school year for our kids” de Blasio said.

German chancellor warns of drastic increase in Covid-19 infections over the winter

German Chancellor Angela Merkel speaks to the media in Berlin on September 29.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has announced an array of new measures aimed at stopping a recent spike in novel coronavirus infections in the country. 

At a press conference following a meeting with Germany’s state governors, Merkel announced that gatherings in public venues would be limited to no more than 50 people in areas with a large number of coronavirus infections.  

“We know that a more difficult time is coming, fall and winter,” Merkel said as she justified the news restrictions which also include fines of at least 50 Euros for patrons in bars and restaurants who provide false contact data used by authorities for tracing.  

Merkel also issued a strong warning saying that if the current trajectory of rising coronavirus infections continues unabated, Germany could see up to 19,200 new infections per day in in the winter months.

“This underscores the urgency to act,” Merkel added.

Frederik Pleitgen reports:

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New York governor will meet with religious leaders in the orthodox community after uptick in cases

Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks at a media briefing in New York on July 23.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo will be meeting with religious leaders in the orthodox community, along with local officials, following uptick of cases in clusters throughout the state. 

“So I will be directly meeting with them to talk about it,” he added. “This is a concern for their community, public health concern for their community, it’s also a public health concern for surrounding communities.”

Earlier he remarked that “this is probably the largest cluster that we have addressed before – and the clusters are Brooklyn, Orange, Rockland.”

Research shows Americans over 30 have been drinking more during the coronavirus pandemic

Americans over the age of 30 have been drinking more during the coronavirus pandemic compared to this time last year, and there could be consequences to their physical and mental health, researchers reported Tuesday.

Overall frequency of alcohol consumption increased by about 14% from 2019, the researchers reported in the journal JAMA Network Open. That increase averages out to about one additional drinking day per month by 75% of adults.

RAND Corporation sociologist Michael Pollard and colleagues analyzed a nationally representative sample of 1,540 people ages 30 to 80. The participants completed a survey about their drinking habits between April 29 and June 9 of 2019 and then again between May 28 and June 16 of this year.

The volunteers reported they drank alcohol on more days every week. They also reported increases in the number of drinks they had; the number of heavy drinking days; and the number of alcohol-related problems over the last 30 days between 2019 and 2020. 

Frequency of drinking increased by 17% among women, 19% among people ages 30 to 59 and by 10% among White people.

“At times of lockdown during the COVID-19 pandemic, alcohol consumption can exacerbate health vulnerability, risk-taking behaviors, mental health issues and violence,” the World Health Organization said in April.

The researchers say it’s important to watch for whether the increases in alcohol consumption persist over the pandemic, and whether there will be physical and mental health consequences as a result.

Airline workers say they feel abandoned by Congress as the pandemic hits the industry hard

A United Airlines plane takes off from Los Angeles International Airport on September 15.

United Airlines, hit hard during the pandemic, is set to lay off thousands of employees on Oct. 1.

Flight attendants for United Airlines, who are scheduled to be furloughed, say they “absolutely” feel abandoned Congress.

“We’ve shown up every single day throughout this pandemic to deliver, you know, medical supplies to our nurses, our doctors. We’ve taken people, you know, that were in the Cleveland clinic to New York in a hotspot, to help save Americans and help our Americans,” said Amanda Steinbrunn, one of the flight attendants.

“We’ve shown up with the uncertainty of possibly catching Covid ourselves. And we expect Congress to do their jobs, to help us,” she told CNN Tuesday.

Right now, the layoffs and furloughs seem inevitable and their only hope is for Congress to pass the clean extension of the payroll support program, said Kacy Lunceford, another flight attendant.

Steinbrunn, however, says she is hopeful that the industry will bounce back as circumstances change.

“There’s so many circumstances that could change our industry overnight, a vaccine for one. More information about the virus and how it spreads and understanding how this will affect us in the long run,” she said. “I think in our future, we’ll get back to where we used to be, and having those employees come back that have worked so hard for this industry and deserve to be working.”

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