Photo of Donald Trump

The President's News Conference

August 05, 2020

The President. Thank you very much, everybody. It's good to be with you. I'd like to begin by providing an update on my administration's actions to protect American workers as we battle the China virus. Since the virus escaped China, my administration has enacted $3 trillion in economic relief. It's been very, very successful, and you saw that by the numbers that were issued yesterday and the day before, as to used car sales and auto production. They've been incredible numbers actually. Shockingly incredible.

We've been negotiating in good faith with Democrat leaders in the House to extend relief payments. We're negotiating right now as we speak, and we'll see how that works out. But if Democrat leaders put partisan demands aside, we would reach an agreement very quickly. It happened—it would happen very quickly.

In the meantime, my administration is exploring executive actions to provide protections against eviction—eviction is a big problem, very unfair to a lot of people; it wasn't their fault that this virus came from a faraway land—as well as additional relief to those who are unemployed, as a result of the virus.

Very importantly, I'm also looking at a term-limited suspension of the payroll tax, something that has great support from many, many sides, especially some of our top economists and some people that we have great respect for. So we're looking at a suspension of the payroll tax.

The Democrats are primarily interested in a $1 trillion bailout of the poorly run States. We have some States and cities—you know them all; we don't have to go through names—but they've been very poorly run over the years. And we can't go along with the bailout money. We're not going to go along with it, especially since it's not COVID related.

Earlier today I met with a great Governor, Arizona Governor Doug Ducey. He's really done a fantastic job, beyond even the COVID situation, which you've been reading about as it pertains to Arizona, a State that is a model for applying a science-based approach to the decreasing cases and hospitalizations without implementing a punishing lockdown.

Arizona's record in reducing the spread of the virus while maintaining hospital capacity and allowing society to continue functioning—and functioning very nicely, very successfully—is an example that shows how our path forward can work in other States.

Arizona has a record—and a record, really, to be proud of. It's reduced the number of daily new cases by over 75 percent, cut the positivity rate in half, and reduced ER visits by two thirds, all the while keeping the economy functioning and functioning really well.

When cases surged in June, the Vice President and Dr. Birx visited Arizona to consult with Governor Ducey. They had long consultations with Governor Ducey and his staff, and the Vice President has been in constant contact ever since. My administration is also collaborating with the State and local officials across the South and Midwest to provide similar guidance.

We had a great relationship with the representatives in Arizona, and it's been such a successful endeavor. The Federal Government has supplied or delivered more than 400 million pieces of personal protective equipment to Arizona, along with nearly 70,000 vials of remdesivir. We've provided over one—excuse me, we provided over $18 billion in economic support to Arizona, including more than $8.6 billion to support over 80,000 small businesses. So we really have been helping Arizona, and it's gotten tremendous results. Our goal is to protect the most vulnerable, increase recovery rates—you know that; it's something so important—and prevent hospital overcrowding, all the while avoiding the kind of stringent lockdowns that would inflict substantial suffering in the phase—and this phase of the battle. We have the tools, resources, and knowledge to implement a targeted approach as we race to deliver a vaccine.

And we are really working very hard on the vaccine, and we're doing—I think they're doing a fantastic job. I've been meeting with officials of some of the greatest companies in the world and meeting with scientists, and they're getting very close. If not there, they're getting very close. They're testing.

Any proper analysis of infection control measures must take into account the short-term and long-term public health harms, including death caused by a far-reaching shutdown. When you shut down, you have many, many things that happen—from suicides to depression to drinking, alcohol problems, to drug problems, to problems with marriages. Problems with marriages. That—you have people confined to their house, their apartment for long periods of time, it can cause a lot of problems with that also.

Instead, Arizona has adopted the following measures: The Governor advised residents to aggressively social distance when possible and maintain strict hygiene. The State encouraged mask use in crowded public places, especially when social distancing is not possible. The Governor also exercised his discretion to restrict capacity at indoor locations to limit the possibility of super spreading. It's a big thing.

My administration surged treatments. We got them a lot of treatments and therapies to the State, including nearly 70,000 vials of remdesivir, enough to treat over 11,000 patients, and it's been very successful, I might add.

My administration also delivered PPE and point-of-care testing to over 100 Arizona nursing homes. In total, the Federal Government has provided massive amounts of masks and equipments and gowns, and you know some of those numbers. But Arizona was a very big beneficiary, and they very much received—very much really appreciated.

More than 1,000 National Guard and medical personnel have also been deployed in Arizona, and they've really helped. They've been terrific, and I want to thank them. They have been brave and brilliant, combination of both.

We also supported our Tribal communities. The Tribal communities were hit very, very hard. Governor Ducey and I personally delivered rapid testing systems to the Navajo Nation, which has been really, really in originally bad shape and now getting better and very, very quickly. The Navajo Nation now has one of the highest levels of testing per capita anywhere in the world. We really worked very hard on the Tribal areas. And in particular, in this case, the Navajo Nation, they've done incredibly well.

Overall, Arizona has conducted over 1.1 million tests, more than the entire nations of Japan, Mexico, and Switzerland. Arizona's per capita testing is higher than Germany, South Korea, France, and Canada. And Tribal governments in Arizona have received nearly $1.3 billion for the Coronavirus Relief Fund.

Meanwhile, outdoor dining, limited indoor dining, and most of the other businesses in Arizona have remained open and very vibrant. They're doing incredibly well. This is an approach, and it's an approach that's been incredibly successful. Arizona has been able to protect high-risk populations and quickly bring its outbreak under control without the need to impose overly punitive measures. Thanks to advances in treating the virus, the fatality rate across all age groups in Arizona is very low. Arizona's scientific and data-driven strategy also preserved hospital capacity, ensuring that those who need care were able to receive it and receive it immediately, very quickly.

At the peak, approximately 15 percent of beds remained available statewide—that was at their peak—with roughly 20 percent of all occupied beds going to patients hospitalized for the virus. They kept other things going. They kept other forms of operations going. They kept elective surgery going. Did a really amazing job.

Today, only 6 percent of the current hospitalizations in the State are related to the China virus. Arizona has also demonstrated success in protecting the State's African American population. Only 5 percent of patients hospitalized were African American, and African Americans represent just 2 percent of all deaths from the virus.

As it has worked to contain its outbreak, Arizona has also been formulating a plan to get children safely back to school as soon as possible. We want our schools open all over the country. We want our schools open. Arizona has worked very hard on this, and they're doing very well. The Department of Education is providing Arizona schools with $625 million—they're working very hard—and that's in conjunction with CARES funding.

My administration is actively working with other States in the same way we worked with Arizona. In recent weeks, members of the Coronavirus Task Force have visited over 15 States to encourage them to follow our path forward, including Tennessee, Kentucky, Virginia, Indiana, and Ohio. And I'll be going to Ohio tomorrow. I look forward to it very much. It's a great place and a great State with an excellent Governor, and we look forward to being there tomorrow.

Next week, Dr. Birx will be visiting Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Arkansas—and also, I believe they're trying to get in West Virginia, a great place, a great State, and I'm sure that will happen, because we'd like it to happen. They'd like to see her. So we're going to try very hard to get the doctor to West Virginia in addition to those States—to deliver aggressive, tailored, and targeted guidance.

The strategy we're taking to these States will protect those at highest risk while allowing others at a lower risk to safely resume work and school. If we do this successfully, it can be really something incredible, because we're talking about a lot of States. We're talking about many, many States.

It's really great to see also that Florida, we're coming down—it's coming down and pretty substantially in many locations. And even Miami is starting to come down. Miami was hit very hard. California likewise, and Texas likewise, coming down and really starting to be a substantial amount of reduction.

It recognizes that prolonged lockdowns impose a wide range of serious public health threats, including higher levels of suicide, drug overdoses, and other significant health harms resulting from the depression that we talked about—social isolation, economic hardship. It's been very tough for those people that are put in a lockdown position for too long. It really has been a very tough and harmful situation for many people.

The fact is that these harms are not measured daily here or abroad. It makes them really a very serious threat because people don't know exactly what they are and how bad they are, but I think they're very bad.

Going forward, we must continue to remain vigilant in shielding the elderly and those with underlying conditions. Approximately half of all deaths have occurred in nursing homes and long-term care facilities, which is an incredible number and statistic, if you think about it. I also urge Americans to help us stop the spread of the virus: practice good hygiene, socially distance, avoid large crowds, and wear a mask where distancing is not possible. It's a patriotic thing to do. If you are sick, isolate yourself, especially from high-risk family members and friends. So important: Isolate yourself from high-risk family members and friends if you're not feeling well.

Together, we will defeat the virus and emerge from this safer and stronger than ever. Thanks to the robust Federal action in partnership with State and local leaders, new cases of the virus are declining in 80 percent of the jurisdictions, which is an incredible number, and the overall test positivity rate has declined by 8 percent since last week. Zero States have seen outbreaks get worse since yesterday—so zero States.

We're also continuing to make progress in the development of a vaccine. This is something so important. Also, therapeutics are on the front burner. We're having tremendous, I think—we'll let you know very soon, I think long before the end of the year—we're having tremendous success on therapeutics and tremendous success on vaccines, and we're ready to deliver them literally as soon as they're okayed.

This morning my administration approved $1 billion for Johnson and Johnson, who's been working very hard—and they think they have something very special—to manufacture and distribute 100 million doses of a China virus vaccine as soon as one is available. And again, we think that's going to be soon, and we think we're going to have the vaccines before the end of the year, maybe long before the end of the year.

Finally, today I'm pleased to announce that the Department of Justice has issued $35 million in grants to 73 organizations nationwide, providing assistance to human trafficking victims. A terrible thing. You think of human trafficking as being an ancient form of crime. It's not. Because of the internet, it's a very modern crime all over the world, not just here—all over the world—human trafficking. It's usually in women or women and children. But it's—again, because of the internet, it's a terrible situation. Never been like this.

And also, survivors who face heightened dangers during the pandemic—it's actually increased during the pandemic. I guess, some reasons are obvious, and some reasons are less obvious. But human trafficking, we're working very, very strongly.

The wall is up to 277 miles right now, and it's going up by the end of the year. It will be largely finished, shortly after the end of the year. And it's had a tremendous impact, a very positive impact on human trafficking. Unbelievable impact, actually.

My administration will never rest in our fight against the human trafficking. To me, it's one of the most horrific of crimes, and we work very hard on that.

With that, we'll take some questions. Please.

2020 Presidential Election/Absentee Voting Policies/Potential Voter Fraud Risks/New York Democratic Primary Election

Q. Two quick questions. Thank you, Mr. President. First of all, you said that voting by mail is an invitation to fraud. Could you lay out and tell us exactly where the evidence is right now that mail-in ballots in Nevada and other States will lead to widespread fraud?

The President. Well, if you read, even the Washington Post had a terrible story on mail-in and the New York Times. And many, many newspapers have had terrible stories. You see them all over the internet. They've had some just horrible stories on mail-in ballots.

You look at Arizona [Nevada]*, you don't even have to have—as you know, they have a provision where they don't have to check signatures. So you sign it, and you could have a totally different signature. It's okay. It won't be approved. They have the right to go 7 days after the election for approval, so you're not even going to know who won the State of Nevada.

Q. Were you—oh, you're talking about Nevada. Oh, I just want to point out we did call Nevada's Secretary of State's Office Election Division, and the spokeswoman there said that that simply isn't true, Mr. President, and that Nevada will continue to check ballot signatures against voter registration cards. It's done at the county level.

The President. Okay, but that's not what they said when they approved it. They said they're not going to check signatures; they're not going to be able to. And their machinery, which is old, doesn't allow them to. So they're going to be—it's going to be physically impossible for them to do that, especially in a short period of time.

In addition, you have the November 3 election, and they're allowed to count votes until 7 days after the election. So what does that mean? If—if Nevada, which is a big State and a great State, a State I like very much—and I think we're going to do very well there—are we going to wait a week after November 3? If it comes down to Nevada, which it could very well. I don't think so. I don't think it's appropriate.

So, with all of the bundling that you're going to have, with the harvesting you're going to have, with people being sent ballots all over that have, maybe, nothing to do with the State anymore, it's a terrible thing.

In New York, they had the Carolyn Maloney situation. And I criticized it badly over the last 2 years and—2 days. I mean, I gave it some very, very strong criticism, and all of a sudden, like a miracle, they just approved the winner. Well, what happened? Did the person that was second concede the race even though it was very close and all mixed up?

They have a terrible situation in New York with the ballots. You know that. And as soon as I said, "Well, I think you should have a new election"—because the election, obviously, they're not going to know what to do—"I think you should have a new election," they, all of a sudden, announced a winner. I assume it was her. But they announced the winner.

Well, I don't agree with it. Did somebody speak to the person on the other side, the opponent? Did they do something for the opponent on the other side?

Take a look at Paterson, New Jersey. Take a look at many things. It's all over newspapers what's going on with the mail-in ballots. They vote—they send out millions of ballots—millions of ballots. They're totally unprepared to do it, and then they come back in the millions. It's going to be a disaster.

I'm doing our country a big favor by bringing it up. And you know, from a common-stance point, even—commonsense standpoint, if you look at it just out of common sense and pure, basic, beautiful intelligence, you know it can't work.

Now, Florida has worked very hard for years and years on developing a system, and I'm sure they probably have problems also. But absentee ballots are different than mail-in ballots—what you call "universal mail-in ballots." They're much different. You have to apply for it. You have to do different things, and it's a much better system, and it's a system that can be reasonably accurate. But there's no system like going to the poll and voting.

So I would like to find out why, all of a sudden, out of nowhere, in the midst of all of this grief, why is it that they approved the New York race? Why you asked that question. Q. Well, the Maloney race, sir, there's no evidence of widespread voter fraud there.

The President. Which one?

Q. Carolyn Maloney's primary.

The President. Oh, really? Well, then you're reading—then you're reading a different newspaper than me.

Q. Well, the issues have to do with delays related to the delivery and the postmarking and the mail, sir.

The President. Go ahead, please. Go ahead, please. Go.

Coronavirus Cases in the U.S

Q. Sir, you said in an interview this morning on the coronavirus: "This thing is going away. It will go away like things go away," despite ongoing cases and deaths.

The President. It's going away.

Q. Isn't that showing you are out of touch with reality?

The President. It's going away. It's going away. No, it will go away like things go away. Absolutely. It's——

Q. [Inaudible]

The President. ——no question in my mind it will go away.

Please, go ahead.

Q. Yes, Mr. President, you praised——

The President. Hopefully, sooner rather than later.

School Reopening Efforts/Arizona

Q. Mr. President, you praised Governor Ducey's handling of the epidemic in his State. One of the things that he did was delay the start of public schools opening. Is that a model that governors and States experiencing hotspots should—should do as the beginning of school does approach?

The President. Well, I'd like to see the schools open. I think many of the schools—most of the schools will be open. I can say that Republican areas want to see them open, and the Democrats probably want to keep them closed until after November 3 because they think it's good for them politically. I actually don't think it's good for them politically.

Parents want the schools open. We want them open. We want them open safely. We're going to practice very strong hygiene and all of the other things that I've enumerated many times. But we want to see the schools open.

Yes. Please, go ahead.

Q. And, Mr. President, you're encouraging schools—States to follow Governor Ducey's model here. And what part of that model was——

The President. No, not his model. I just think he's done a very good job. I mean, he's really done a great job. If you look at the numbers, you look at how it's dropped, and very rapidly—he's done a great job. He's a great Governor.

Please. School Reopening Efforts/Coronavirus Transmission Among Children

Q. In the interview this morning, Mr. President, you were talking about opening the schools, and you said children are "virtually immune" from COVID-19. But children have contracted this virus and some have died from it.

The President. Well, when I say that, I'm talking about from getting very sick. If you look at children, I mean, they're able to throw it off very easily, and it's an amazing thing, because some flus, they don't. They get very sick and they have problems with flus, and they have problems with other things.

But for whatever reason, the China virus, children handle it very well. And they may——

Q. [Inaudible]—said "virtually immune."

The President. ——they may get it, but they get it, and it doesn't have much of an impact on them. And if you look at the numbers, the numbers of—in terms of mortality, fatality, the numbers for children under a certain age, meaning young, their immune systems are very, very strong. They're very powerful, and they—they seem to be able to handle it very well, and that's according to every statistic.

Q. But is it right that they're "virtually immune"?

The President. Yes, please, go ahead.

Independent Presidential Candidate Musician Kanye O. West/Presidential Pardons and Commutations

Q. Mr. President, at least two people connected to Kanye West's effort to get on the ballot have been connected to the Republican Party. Is this some——

The President. Whose—whose ballot?

Q. To Kanye West's.

The President. With Kanye West? Oh.

Q. He's getting on the ballot, including in swing States. And, as you know, his wife has raised issues about whether he's having mental issues right now. So my question to you is——

The President. That Kanye West does? I don't know that. Who said that?

Q. His wife said he might be going through an episode.

The President. I don't know about that.

Q. But anyway, my question to you is——

The President. I like him. I mean, I like him. He's always been very nice to me.

Q. Are you aware of any efforts——

The President. He's talking about Kanye West.

Q. Are you aware of or have you encouraged anyone in the party to help him get on the ballot, including in swing States?

The President. No, not at all. No, not at all, other than I get along with him very well. I like him. I like his wife. His wife recommended certain people, as you know, for—including Alice Johnson, who's a fantastic woman. But his wife recommended certain people to get out of prison. They were in prison for a long time—a long, long time. It should have never happened, and I took what she said very strong—Kim. Kim Kardashian. And, you know, he's got a good heart, very good heart. And I like Kanye very much. No, I have nothing to do with him getting on the ballot.

Independent Presidential Candidate Musician Kanye O. West

Q. Do you think it helps you, Mr. President?

The President. We'll have to see what happens. We'll see if he gets on the ballot, but——

Q. Mr. President——

The President.——I'm not involved.

Q. ——on Beirut.

The President. Please.

Airline Industry/Economic Stimulus Legislation

Q. Thank you, Mr. President. I wanted to ask you: The group of Republican Senators who are backing $25 billion in payroll assistance to keep the airlines being able to pay their payrolls, do you, you know, endorse that plan?

The President. They're doing what? Republican Senators are doing——

Q. Republican Senators want to go ahead with another $25 billion for airlines to keep their payrolls going. Do you——

The President. Well, if they need it. Certainly, that's a business—some businesses are doing better than they would normally. Obviously, we know what those businesses are, and obviously, the airline business is not doing very well. You have shutdowns all over the world, and you have airlines that are essentially shut down. Some airlines are doing, you know, modest—best they're doing is modest. I think it's very important that we keep the airlines going. There will be very good times, very soon, I hope. And we don't want to lose our airlines.

So if they're looking at that—whether they're Republican or Democrat—I'd be certainly in favor. We can't lose our transportation system.

Yes, go ahead.

Port Warehouse Explosion in Beirut, Lebanon

Q. I wanted to ask you, too, on Beirut. So there's been some question about your comments yesterday saying that it was an attack and that you'd heard from military officials that there was, you know, an explosion, that it looked like some sort of a bomb.

The President. Well, they don't really know what it was. I can't tell you, whatever happened, it's terrible, but they don't really know what it is. Nobody knows yet.

At this moment, they're looking. It could—I mean, how can you say "accident"? Somebody was—you know, left some terrible explosive-type devices and things around, perhaps. Perhaps it was that. Perhaps it was an attack.

I don't think anybody can say right now. We're looking into it very strongly. Right now it's—I mean, you have some people think it was an attack, and you have some people that think it wasn't.

Q. [Inaudible]

The President. In any event, it was a terrible event. And a lot of people were killed, and a tremendous number of people were badly wounded, injured. And we're standing with that country. You know, we have a very good relationship with that country, but it's a country under—there's a lot of turmoil, a lot of problems, but we stand with them.

Q. One more, Mr. President——

Republican Presidential Nomination Acceptance Speech Location

Q. Thank you, Mr. President. Thank you. You said earlier today that you are considering using the White House as the venue for your——

The President. Yes.

Q. ——nomination speech. Senator John Thune questioned whether or not that's actually legal, given the Hatch Act. Is this something that you would get clearance for before proceeding?

The President. John Thune did, right?

Q. [Inaudible]

The President. The Republican, John Thune? Oh, okay. Well, it is legal. There is no Hatch Act, because it doesn't pertain to the President.

But if I use the White House, we save tremendous amounts of money for the Government, in terms of security, traveling. If we go to another state or some other location, the amount of money is, you know, very enormous, so that's something to consider also.

I think it would be a very convenient location. It would be, by far, the least expensive location. There'd be very little in terms of that tremendous traveling security with airplanes and everybody flying all over the place.

So I think it would be a very convenient idea. It's something that we threw out. It would be very cost-conscious by comparison to any other location.

Yes, please.

Conservation Efforts/Alaska/Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR)

Q. Mr. President, yes—your son, Don Jr., tweeted yesterday asking you to direct the EPA to reject the Pebble Mine in Bristol Bay, Alaska. It's a giant copper and gold mine. And the thinking is that——

The President. Rejected in what way?

Q. Just reject its construction maybe. The Army Corps of Engineers, 2 weeks ago, suggested it would be okay to proceed with the project, but it would—sportsmen, like your son, are saying that it would be harmful to fisheries.

The President. Well, I'd listen to both sides. I don't know of the argument yet, but I would certainly listen to both sides. My son has some very strong opinions, and he is very much of an environmentalist. And he was very impressed with what we did yesterday, because that's one of the great environmental bills, and beyond that, ever signed since—well, I guess over 100 years, if you think about it. It's been a long time.

But I will look at both sides of it. I had heard about it. I will be—I understand they're going to be doing a briefing sometime over the next 48 hours. It's going to go very quickly. I've done a lot for Alaska. I love Alaska. It's a special place. ANWR was one thing. The highway—Cove highway, or whatever the new name is, whatever the old name is. We're getting approvals for a tremendous highway that's been sought for 40 years. They've been trying to get it approved, and I'm getting it approved. We've done a lot for Alaska; it's a special place. And I'll take a look at that. That's interesting.

Yes, please, go ahead.

Ambulatory First Responders Compensation

Q. Thank you, Mr. President. Two brief questions. First, your administration has praised ambulance drivers and the ambulance service for their role in dealing with the coronavirus.

The President. Sure.

Q. And recently, there has been scuttlebutt that the Ambulance Association's drivers and all have not been fully reimbursed for the work they're doing. They said they are owed $2.89 billion and they've only received $300 million from the Provider Relief Fund.

The President. Not $300 billion, no. Not 300——

Q. Million.

The President. Not 300. You mean $300 million?

Q. ——at the Provider Relief Fund at HHS. Are you going to look into this or——

The President. I will. I just heard of it for the first time. The ambulance people have done an incredible job, as have the doctors, the nurses, the frontline workers. Law enforcement has been incredible, the military, FEMA. I mean, I could name almost every group. I can't tell you of a group that's done poorly. But the ambulance people have done a very—it's a tough job too. Very dangerous job. Very tough job.

I will certainly look into it. I mean, you're telling me something that—for the first time. Nobody is complaining about not getting paid too much, but we'll take a look at the ambulance drivers.

Port Warehouse Explosion in Beirut, Lebanon

Q. The other thing: Secretary Esper said today that, based on what he had heard—the incident in Beirut, he felt, was an accident. Now, he's disagreed with you on other things before. Do you have any comment about his remarks?

The President. Yes, I know. Whatever he—if he—if that's what he heard, I think that—I've heard it both ways too. I've heard "accident"; I've heard, you know, "explosives." And obviously, it must have been some form of explosives. But whether it was a bomb intentionally set off—it ended up being a bomb. But no, I've heard it both ways. It could have been an accident, and it could have also been something that was very offensive. And I wouldn't be very happy with that.

Q. And you have no problem with him?

Port Warehouse Explosion in Beirut, Lebanon

Q. And just to follow up on that, Mr. President: Even if just have suspicion that the Beirut explosion is a bomb, do you have any plans pertaining to U.S. assets in the region, for example? I mean, how are you looking into this?

The President. We're working very closely with the Government, and we're working very closely with many different agencies, including the military. And we'll be able to figure it out. We already, probably, have figured it out.

Thank you very much, everybody.

Q. A follow-up, Mr. President. A follow-up? The President. Thank you.

NOTE: The President spoke at 5:47 a.m. in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House. In his remarks, he referred to White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator Deborah L. Birx; Gov. Mike DeWine of Ohio; Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney; New York Democratic congressional candidate Suraj Patel; and Memphis, TN, resident Alice Marie Johnson, whose lifetime prison sentence was commuted by the President on June 6, 2018.

* White House correction.

Donald J. Trump, The President's News Conference Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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