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Just do it already

Monday, Feb 8, 2021 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Joe Mahr and Angie Leventis Lourgos at the Tribune

The Tribune spoke to more than a dozen health officials, researchers, doctors and families, and analyzed federal, state and local datasets to try to assess a system that’s considered key to ending the pandemic but, so far, has attracted widespread frustration.

As of Friday, roughly 960,000 Illinoisans have received at least one shot — and about 270,000 of them have received both shots. But the state’s pace has ranked in the bottom third of the country for residents vaccinated, when adjusted for population sizes.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s administration has pointed to different metrics to argue the state is doing relatively well at vaccinating people, particularly recently. And echoing other states’ complaints, Illinois officials have blamed rollout frustrations on scarce supplies and poor planning by the Trump administration. […]

Still, Illinois’ lagging vaccination numbers have become political fodder in the national finger-pointing over the slow rollout. At that same congressional hearing, a West Virginia Republican noted Illinois had used up less than 60% of vaccine it had received, compared with his home state, which had used up more than 80% by then.

Gov. Pritzker promised to actually run the government, unlike several of his predecessors. The state, therefore, deserves the best possible response without excuses. The article points out numerous problems, with one being that the state appeared to get a late start, then abandoned its management plan.

* Meanwhile

The coronavirus variant that shut down much of the United Kingdom is spreading rapidly across the United States, outcompeting other strains and doubling its prevalence among confirmed infections every week and a half, according to new research made public Sunday. […]

The spread of the variant, officially known as B.1.1.7, and the threat of other mutant strains of the virus, have added urgency to the effort to vaccinate as many people as possible as quickly as possible.

I completely understand about the international shortage and the national problems since the vaccine was approved. I think most of us are willing to cut everyone some slack. And, yes, there are some local public health agencies which aren’t holding up their end and the big pharmacy companies appear to have bungled the nursing home vaccination program.

But I don’t care what it takes, I don’t care what the governor has to do, this needs to be fixed and it needs to be fixed right freaking now. I hate it that other states are doing better than us, even though that’s admittedly a silly metric. We definitely need a better national plan, but until that happens, Illinois has got to up its game.

Governors own.


  1. - Leslie K - Monday, Feb 8, 21 @ 10:31 am:

    The State doesn’t have Trump to blame any more. Glad to see Trump gone, but we are a month in–take it, own it, and do better. Nationally, regionally, locally.

  2. - DuPage Saint - Monday, Feb 8, 21 @ 10:33 am:

    Maybe instead of having people sign up on many sites in hopes of getting a shot there should be one site. Or state could assign you a number (in each category). It worked for the draft. Then you would know your place in line and about when you would get vaccinated

  3. - battle of evermore - Monday, Feb 8, 21 @ 10:48 am:

    Maybe your expectations of government are too high.

  4. - Rich Miller - Monday, Feb 8, 21 @ 10:51 am:

    ===expectations of government===

    If that was the case, every state would be failing.

  5. - Anon221 - Monday, Feb 8, 21 @ 10:54 am:

    Unless the Feb 26th meeting date gets sped up (see article), the Johnson and Johnson vaccine rollout could happen nationwide in a month or two. There needs to be some focus on how to start strategizing for that vaccine. It’s one shot and not as finicky as the two-shot vaccines in terms of storage. While it may not be as effective, it can serve as the bridge to boosters down the road for the variants that are starting to take hold. There’s ramping up going on with FEMA and other federal agencies to send their staff out into the states to help with mass vaccinations. But, if we can’t somehow make the application and sign-up process better, we’re still in Hunger Games mode. I expect we are going to have to drill down to the neighborhood level at some point to get the majority of the population vaccinated. That means getting senior centers, religious and community centers, and schools engaged in becoming vaccination sites. Allowing in-home care personnel, who are properly trained and have the ability to treat on-site negative reactions, to administer the one-shot vaccines, can help tremendously as well.

  6. - Texas Pete - Monday, Feb 8, 21 @ 10:54 am:

    Looking at the State statistics regarding vaccinations I can’t help but notice that the daily count of vaccines delivered drops dramatically on Saturdays and Sundays.

    Has anyone mentioned that vaccinations are important in this emergency? Just wondering.

  7. - northside reformer - Monday, Feb 8, 21 @ 10:58 am:

    JB has a great ideas team but lacks in operations and execution. Great first legislative session and then…

  8. - Donnie Elgin - Monday, Feb 8, 21 @ 10:59 am:

    The per capita rate of folks getting the first shot makes IL look bad. JB needs to offer a solution to answer why West Virginia is at 12.2% and IL at 8.6% (near the very bottom).

  9. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Feb 8, 21 @ 11:03 am:

    Let’s start here;

    ===The article points out numerous problems, with one being that the state appeared to get a late start, then abandoned its management plan.===

    It’s one thing to be nimble and change to the needs necessary for success, it’s another to seemingly be not only behind, but to be off a plan, or abandon the plan.

    Rich, in comments, points out correctly, the individuality of states’ situations are indicative of individual states’ successes, not merely an overall lacking.

    This might be the nugget;

    ===We definitely need a better national plan, but until that happens, Illinois has got to up its game.===

    Ball game, no pun intended to the grab.

    Where Illinois is, and what needs to transpire nationally, they are not joined or needing both to be in concurrence.

    Do I appreciate and respect the governor abd his crew in handling this virus? Yep. Should I ignore where shortfalls and lacking to combating the virus exist? Nope, not at all.

  10. - TJ - Monday, Feb 8, 21 @ 11:06 am:

    JB and Lori do have something in common with Trump. They will all be one-termers. Not many without political experience last long in the Thunderdome.

  11. - Chicagonk - Monday, Feb 8, 21 @ 11:13 am:

    Taking doses away from CHS was a good start. The next low-hanging fruit is to start taking doses away from county health boards that are failing.

  12. - don the legend - Monday, Feb 8, 21 @ 11:15 am:

    ==JB and Lori do have something in common with Trump. They will all be one-termers. Not many without political experience last long in the Thunderdome.==

    You might be right that JB and Mayor Lightfoot could be one termers but to say Trump was a one termer because “without experience” is not any of the first ten reasons Trump lost.

  13. - Ferris Wheeler - Monday, Feb 8, 21 @ 11:17 am:

    “It’s not a plan unless it’s written down.”

    Who can tell me the name of the person who is Charged with getting the vaccines into arms right now?

    Is it Dr Ezike? Someone who reports to her? Caprara? Someone else?

    What is the administration’s goal for the number of people who will receive the first shot by March 1? Second shot?

    What about February 21? February 14?

    The administration has a classic problem of setting goals retroactively.

    Manar is a former Chief-of-Staff. He knows how to build strong partnerships and leverage them for maximum output. He has a deft hand with the press. I’d put him in charge of vaccinations yesterday.

  14. - Excessively Rabid - Monday, Feb 8, 21 @ 11:18 am:

    Get the vaccine to the hospitals and clinics and let them run most of it. They’ve got patient lists, they’ve got facilities, and they’ve got slack capacity because people are not having elective procedures during the pandemic.

  15. - Hindsight - Monday, Feb 8, 21 @ 11:19 am:

    Direct distribution to community clinics and brick and mortar pharmacies from the start. What other groups have the staff and experience running vaccination programs?

    I think it is telling that more pharmacies appear to be getting the vaccine to distribute.

  16. - TheInvisibleMan - Monday, Feb 8, 21 @ 11:20 am:

    === there are some local public health agencies which aren’t holding up their end ===

    This is the one bothering me the most. Will county can’t even figure out how to call people. They could have all the vaccines needed for everyone in the county, but they still do not have a process in place to efficiency distribute it locally.

    I can give some slack for the places stuck at the point of needing more vaccines, as that’s out of their control. But not having any sort of plan in places locally for distribution is compounding an already bad situation.

  17. - Roman - Monday, Feb 8, 21 @ 11:21 am:

    The vax roll out needs to be infused with as much simplicity as possible. Israel’s strictly age-based (oldest first) distribution plan has been pretty successful. Maybe when the Johnson and Johnson vax comes out we can go to that. (i.e., everyone older than 75 whose name begins with an A through J goes to the local gymnasium Monday through Wednesday…and so on.) Extra sites can be set up in high-infection areas.

    There’s no perfect way to do this, but the less complicated the better.

  18. - illinifan - Monday, Feb 8, 21 @ 11:23 am:

    The scattered registration sites are what exists in other states as well. I am currently in AZ. There are county, pharmacy and medical group sites like Illinois. The big difference is there are a couple of large state run sites which have a central registration site and high volume of vaccination capabilities (they can do 14000 shots a day and run 24/7. If he wants to get a handle on this he should get a few state sites running to supplement what is done through the scattered sites.

  19. - bungalowhistorians - Monday, Feb 8, 21 @ 11:25 am:

    There seems to be several issues that are holding our state back from administering more doses. One is the difficulty scheduling appointments with a crazy computerized process or phone systems a person can never get through on. It needs to be easier but I confess I have no suggestions on that one. The other problem is that there aren’t nearly enough locations for people to get the immunizations. Why aren’t physicians offices giving them? Why haven’t more centers been set up to give them? Why aren’t other qualified people being tapped to give them? Sangamon County only has four locations, Logan County has only one for the entire county. Efforts need to be stepped up to get more locations made available and an easier process to sign up. That being said, masks and social distancing will still be required for quite some time.

  20. - Amy - Monday, Feb 8, 21 @ 11:25 am:

    Letting the media drive the debate and set the metrics, creates distracting drama and artificial rankings and artificial “failures” and “winners” and “losers.”The Gov needs to stick with his plan and continually improve the execution. Every one will forget this nonsense once the vaccinations create a herd immunity.

  21. - MaconMaven - Monday, Feb 8, 21 @ 11:25 am:

    Governor Pritzker should be utilizing every single resource at his disposal in the state, and he is failing to do so. 1 Walgreens out of 5 in our central IL county currently has the vaccine, 0 of 3 CVS, 0 of 3 Kroger stores, 0 of 2 Walmarts, and 0 of 3 local pharmacies. The Walgreens can only vaccinate 57 doses per day per their scheduling program. Hy-Vee is at least 90 mins round-trip, and so will the closest National Guard vaccination site.

    CVS & Walgreens won’t be allowing their staff to vaccinate any homebound patients in 1B (or other phases), so how will those patients receive vaccines?

  22. - Responsa - Monday, Feb 8, 21 @ 11:28 am:

    The first step in solving a problem is admitting there is a problem. As far as I can see, for some reason Gov. Pritzker is somehow loathe to even acknowledge there is a problem with dissemination of the vaccine in Illinois. Perhaps if he’d say he knows there’s a problem and is deeply concerned about it, his staff and other state administrators would take the concerns over this obvious-to-almost- everybody-else failure a bit more seriously.

  23. - PublicServant - Monday, Feb 8, 21 @ 11:29 am:

    === But I don’t care what it takes, I don’t care what the governor has to do, this needs to be fixed and it needs to be fixed right freaking now. I hate it that other states are doing better than us, even though that’s admittedly a silly metric. We definitely need a better national plan, but until that happens, Illinois has got to up its game.

    Governors own. ===

    Absolutely Agree, Rich. He needs to get to the bottom of this…yesterday. We are in a race now between virus mutations and knocking down this plague. I can’t take another year in isolation waiting for vaccines to handle the moving target that this curse represents.

  24. - Moe Berg - Monday, Feb 8, 21 @ 11:31 am:

    Granting that a once-in-a-century pandemic is a lot to heap on a state that was already reeling from a variety of challenges while trying to repair a government sabotaged and hollowed out by 4 years by Bruce Rauner - part of the problem seems to be a very narrow information funnel into the governor and a lot of territoriality among the senior staff.

    The circle may be too small. Also, wonder if they are dealing with serious burnout issues and need some fresh horses.

  25. - Streator Curmudgeon - Monday, Feb 8, 21 @ 11:32 am:

    Seems simple:

    1.Maximize production of vaccines and syringes.
    2. Get vaccines to states.
    3. Use National Guard, U.S. troops, doctors, dentists, nurses to vaccinate people at public places.
    4. Repeat step 3 until everyone who wants a vaccine gets it.

    The Governor’s office has had plenty of time to plan this and come up with a workable strategy. Which of the above steps are bottlenecks?

  26. - Rich Miller - Monday, Feb 8, 21 @ 11:34 am:

    ===The Gov needs to stick with his plan ===

  27. - jimbo26 - Monday, Feb 8, 21 @ 11:35 am:

    J.B.should look back at history and compare the vaccine rollout to the Chicago blizzard of 67 and what happened to Michael Bilandic.

  28. - dbk - Monday, Feb 8, 21 @ 11:36 am:

    There are notable success stories involving other states but none of them really help a lot in understanding exactly what’s going wrong in Illinois.

    Could one problem be that we have so many counties and therefore, county health departments, some of which are both overwhelmed and understaffed?

    Could one problem be that different sign-up systems are being used (hospitals/CVS/Walgreens/doctor’s offices) in some counties, and that this favors those with closer connections to some/certain institutional providers?

    Could one problem be that county health departments didn’t do a sufficient analysis of their demographic break-downs with drafts of planning for delivery vis-a-vis supply?

    So many things seem to have gone wrong, it’s going to be extremely difficult now to fix individual county algorithms and downstream providers.

    Really, really disheartening - and replete with a ton of inequity to boot. Not a good look for our state.

  29. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Feb 8, 21 @ 11:37 am:

    === Governors own.===

    They always do. Along those lines…

    ===They (Pritzker, Lightfoot) will all be one-termers.===

    Governors own. The mayor owns her own multi failings, and with both… can’t beat someone with no one.

    You need to find folks willing to tackle either mayor or governor…

    The current governor is now feeling “governors own” unlike anything he may have thought when merely a candidate.

  30. - RNUG - Monday, Feb 8, 21 @ 11:39 am:

    JB’s phased plan sounded liked a good idea. But it was left up to the counties to implement, and things seem to vary greatly by county.

    From what I have seen, Sangamon has been all over the map, first 65, then 85, now 65 again IF you can schedule an appointment through county public health.

    St John’s is apparently reserving for just their high risk patients.

    MCM said they didn’t know what they were going to do with their allotment but I’ve heard from MCM patients that the SIU/MCM doctors are calling their patients to come in for shots.

    And Walgreens and HyVee supposedly scheduling but the Walgreens app went away for days.

    Doesn’t seem to be much coordination in Sangamon County … and Menard County is tied to Sangamon.

    Bottom line: I’m not sure Governors own on this one. How well the distribution works seems to depend more on the county officials.

  31. - Rich Miller - Monday, Feb 8, 21 @ 11:40 am:

    ===JB and Lori do have something in common with Trump===

    You really need to get over it already.

  32. - Rich Miller - Monday, Feb 8, 21 @ 11:43 am:

    ===I’m not sure Governors own on this one. How well the distribution works seems to depend more on the county official===

    It’s like Trump trying to blame the states. Didn’t work then, won’t work now.

  33. - eyeball - Monday, Feb 8, 21 @ 11:45 am:

    My school district was contacted and agreed in May to act as a distribution site. Nothing since.

  34. - ddp76 - Monday, Feb 8, 21 @ 12:07 pm:

    1b here. Properly registered and still waiting to be told what to do. And when. Oh, I get nice emails and all, but absolutely nothing about when any vaccine will be provided.

  35. - Amy - Monday, Feb 8, 21 @ 12:10 pm:

    ===The Gov needs to stick with his plan ===


    My cup is [still] half full.

  36. - Essential State Employee - Monday, Feb 8, 21 @ 12:20 pm:

    ==J.B.should look back at history and compare the vaccine rollout to the Chicago blizzard of 67 and what happened to Michael Bilandic.==

    That was actually the ‘79 blizzard

  37. - Perplexed - Monday, Feb 8, 21 @ 12:22 pm:

    What a smart discussion this is. And what a shame that Illinois keeps forgetting a tenet of crisis management: Different teams for different tasks.

    It was amateurish to expect the same managers who lead through a health crisis to also plan a very different late-stage logistical challenge.

    Late last summer — when the big vaccine question already had evolved from “What if?” to “When?” — the Israelis detached a team to stop combating the contagion and instead to plan a vaccination infrastructure that, with local volunteers enlisted well in advance, would seamlessly run sites 24/7.

    In Illinois, by contrast, what plan?

    This governor has two years to go. If only his top staff would reflect and realize that (1) We are often clumsy at follow-through, so (2) We will detach a small internal think tank, and (3) Demand that its members focus not on the emergency du jour but on where we all know the puck soon will be.

  38. - Ummmm - Monday, Feb 8, 21 @ 12:32 pm:

    IL has more shots administered per capita than PA and TX according to the NYT tracker. These numbers change everyday and the differences are so miniscule between the states. We needs a national strategy and a lot more vaccine before any of this really matters.

  39. - illinfan - Monday, Feb 8, 21 @ 12:35 pm:

    Great source of data on vaccines

  40. - zatoichi - Monday, Feb 8, 21 @ 12:37 pm:

    Is this a lack of planning or a lack of product? I live in Coles County which has Moderna (2 injections), which means they have the needed local storage. According to today’s stats 6819 injections have been given with 775 people fully vaccinated. That means 6819-(775×2)=5269 people are waiting for vaccine #2 but only 814 vaccines are waiting. They have done that many in a day. There are no stats on what is coming on the IDPH chart. To do more, they need vaccine. News from other states often has tens of thousands of appointment cancellations due to lack of product. So is it planning, shipping within Illinois, or shipping to Illinois?

  41. - OneMan - Monday, Feb 8, 21 @ 12:48 pm:

    Nail this and you become Jim Thompson. If nothing else a big part of this is clear communication and I feel that has been lacking.

  42. - Precinct Captain - Monday, Feb 8, 21 @ 12:48 pm:

    - Ferris Wheeler - Monday, Feb 8, 21 @ 11:17 am:

    Are you unable to read the vaccination plan at What’s stopping you other than laziness?

  43. - Cool Papa Bell - Monday, Feb 8, 21 @ 1:20 pm:

    Where to start.

    First I do think IL needs four of five massive drive through vaccination spots. It looks good on TV and gives the personal confidence that you can get a vaccine someday. Those should already be stood up and messaged that “once supply is robust enough these places will prove x thousands of shots a day”.

    The piecemeal process to provide vaccines has been poorly thought out. The Admin had months and months to table-top this, run it past logistics experts and they came up with a plan that doesn’t look like a plan - Just let the counites do it.

    I’ve said it a ton, this is a logistics issue. From supply to final mile delivery. You can’t fix supply but you should be able to fix the final mile and Illinois so far isn’t up to the task.

    Illinois should have a firm grasp on just how many shots are going to be coming each week and they should not be holding back all the doses they seem to be.

    And we all love those table with percentages and rankings…

    North Dakota has been lauded for their vaccine rollout. You can see them atop metrics for shots per 100 and so on. Illinois is in the bottom third (not good and not making excuses) but ND has handed out 126,000 shots. Illinois can do that in two days.

    Those states in the tables are not created equally. Places like ND, SD, WV, NM and others are very rural. But a huge portion of their populations live in a hand full of counties in those states. It makes early distribution much easier and creates a sense of “winning” when looking at per 100 metrics.

    But Illinois has to improve the system. I’d humbly suggest that if we aren’t rolling big numbers of shots out by March 1 this is a massive failure that can only be hung around the head of the Governor and his staff.

  44. - Dee Lay - Monday, Feb 8, 21 @ 1:41 pm:

    - Cool Papa Bell -
    “But Illinois has to improve the system. I’d humbly suggest that if we aren’t rolling big numbers of shots out by March 1″

    That’s the issue, what are the big numbers we should be shooting for right now? Rolling average over 100K like Texas? 150k?
    The Gov’s team never laid out the goals and metrics, so they are reaping the bad pr whirlwind because we have nothing to judge them against outside other states.

  45. - Blake - Monday, Feb 8, 21 @ 2:36 pm:

    What’s standing in the way? Are there limitations on who is allowed to administer? Can we scale up how many are administering shots? Are there vaccines being allowed to spoil?

  46. - northshore cynic - Monday, Feb 8, 21 @ 2:50 pm:

    Maybe Gov. JB hired the same consultants who have done so well at IDES….or the folks who invest the state’s pension funds/

  47. - Rich Miller - Monday, Feb 8, 21 @ 2:51 pm:

    Blake, read the article. It’s linked. Twice.

  48. - Cool Papa Bell - Monday, Feb 8, 21 @ 2:57 pm:

    @Dee Lay

    My feelings - there can’t be a day that goes by where you don’t vaccinate 80k and you should be aiming for 100k M-F.

    Phase 1B has 3.2 million people in it. If the take rate is about 70% that leaves 2,240,000 people wiling to take the jab.

    If you averaged 90k shots a day - you clear Phase 1B in 25 days. That would be my goal. JB talked about his goals when it came to testing and the like in April and May and June. I’m not hearing him say much about his goals for shots per day.

    If the state was vaccinating 90k a day right now, you could make the case to be in Phase 5 on April 1.

    Downtown is gonna start to got “owned” on this issue. How about thinking BIG again. Very under impressed on the rollout. I had to listen to lots of impressive doctors who explained the virus, and transmission and mitigations and on and on this spring and summer.

    Praise heaped upon (rightfully so) the leading minds in medicine that are in Illinois.

    You what Illinois is also a leader in? Logistics and transportation. Bring those folks to the podium and tell us why this doesn’t work better and is a mess for sign up.

  49. - Demoralized - Monday, Feb 8, 21 @ 2:58 pm:

    I still do not underrstand why the military is not involved on a massive scale.

    I shudder to think what is going to happen once the vaccination window opens up for everyone. We can’t even get people appointments now and we are only in the initial phases. They better figure something out or it will be next year before we get everyone vaccinated.

  50. - Old and In the Way - Monday, Feb 8, 21 @ 3:00 pm:

    Relying on the local county health departments downstate has been problematic. Many are poorly run and just as poorly funded. Gee, what could go wrong?
    At the current rate it will be about 225 days to vaccinate the 65 and older group in my county. Can’t even reach to County Health Department via phone let alone via email. Zero communications. Vaccinations at the local Hy-Vee so poorly run and overcrowded they will probably be a super spreader event. In short it’s a mess and not getting better. Governor’s own whether urban or rural.

  51. - Ferris Wheeler - Monday, Feb 8, 21 @ 3:05 pm:

    @Precinct Captain -

    I can read, can you? I read the whole plan, twice. It is not a plan, it is an org chart.

    The governor’s plan does not name anyone to oversee the vaccinations.

    It does not set goals for how many people we are going to vaccinate, or by when.

    IDK about the idea of having hospitals do vaccinations. They are still rebounding from the surge in cases and putting healthy people where the sick people are is a pretty bad idea.

  52. - CapnCrunch - Monday, Feb 8, 21 @ 3:21 pm:

    “JB’s phased plan sounded liked a good idea. But it was left up to the counties to implement, and.. ….How well the distribution works seems to depend more on the county officials.”

    IDPH data supports RNUG’s point. If counties were supplied with vaccine, at their current administration rates Peoria County could vaccine everyone in 122 days, Champaign County in 141 days, Rock Island and Kane Counties would require a year and Alexander County over two years.

  53. - Wensicia - Monday, Feb 8, 21 @ 3:54 pm:

    The health dept. in my county has decided on a couple of vaccine supersites located in the center of the county and not accessible by public transportation. The vaccines need to be distributed in larger communities as well, where people live and have access to local transportation. Every high school in my county has nursing staff, able to help with vaccinations. Why aren’t all of them distributing the shots instead of just one or two high schools 20 to 30 miles away?

  54. - jdcolombo - Monday, Feb 8, 21 @ 3:55 pm:

    As others have noted, this is a logistics problem. What entity has honed logistics to a fine science? The military. Get whoever runs logistics for the Illinois National Guard, and tell that person “this is a war; if we don’t fix the logistics, people die. On your watch. So fix it.” Then give that person every possible resource they need to fix it.

  55. - Soccermom - Monday, Feb 8, 21 @ 3:55 pm:

    Would it help to shift to district-wide vs county boundaries? My sister is in Winnebago County, and desperately needs to get vaccinated. (She teaches in a private school and is being called back to the classroom.) The County Health Department can’t accommodate her, and departments in nearby counties won’t take her because she lives outside the county line. Seems like erasing those boundaries would help to at least get the existing vaccines in arms, instead of having some places with vaccines but no takers and others with takers but no vaccines.

  56. - Illinifan - Monday, Feb 8, 21 @ 4:02 pm:

    This is the link to see Biden’s meeting with Arizona officials on how they run their large vaccination sites. Good watch and it appears this model will be replicated

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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