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Los Angeles temporarily closes 5 coronavirus vaccination sites
Mayor Eric Garcetti said Wednesday that the city will close five Covid 19 vaccination sites, including Dodger Stadium, because of a shortage of supplies.
We are vaccinating people here in Los Angeles faster than the new ampoules are coming in, and I am very concerned right now. As your mayor, I am concerned about the uneven, unpredictable and too often unfair vaccination supply. Tomorrow we will run out of Moderna vaccine supplies for the first dose. This is a major hurdle in our race to vaccinate the Angelenos, and unfortunately it means we will have to temporarily close Dodger Stadium and four other non-mobile vaccination sites for two days on Friday and Saturday. As soon as we have more supplies, and I hope we do, I would love to get a call today or tomorrow from a state or national source to say that we have found more, but most likely, hopefully Tuesday or Wednesday, we will reopen and resume operations.
Mayor Eric Garcetti said Wednesday that the city will close five Covid 19 vaccination sites, including Dodger Stadium, because of a shortage of supplies. Credit… Philip Cheung for the New York Times.
Due to a shortage of doses of coronavirus vaccine, Los Angeles will temporarily close five vaccine sites at Dodger Stadium, including one of the largest in the country, raising new questions about how the federal government manages supply and distribution.
The city will be through the first dose of Modern vaccine by Thursday, Mayor Eric Garcetti told a news conference. Centers will be closed Friday and Saturday and are expected to reopen next Tuesday or Wednesday, he said.
“We are vaccinating people faster than new vials are coming to Los Angeles,” Garcetti said. “As mayor, I am concerned that our vaccine supply is uneven, unpredictable and too often uneven.
The United States has struggled to mount a mass immunization campaign, given limited supplies and logistical difficulties. President Biden has pledged to administer 100 million vaccines for his 100th day in office, which falls on April 30.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Thursday that about 34.7 million people have received at least one dose of the Covid-19 vaccine, of which about 11.2 million have been fully vaccinated.
The federal government has distributed about 68.3 million doses to states, territories, and federal agencies, much of which is in reserve for a second dose. State and federal officials have been criticized for their management of vaccines, as demand far exceeds supply and health care providers have difficulty predicting how many doses they may receive.
About 10% of Californians have received the vaccine, according to the CDC.
The city’s Dodger Stadium opened on January 15 and in the first two weeks more than 85,000 people were vaccinated, despite wait times that can sometimes last several hours. Administrators have reduced wait times, and last week the stadium averaged more than 6,000 injections a day, far more than any other venue in the city.
By Wednesday, Los Angeles had received 316,947 doses, 98% of which had been taken and 5,201 doses were in stock, city officials said. Demand for the vaccine has only increased in recent days, and health care workers and residents 65 and older can get the vaccines.
The total number of vaccinations administered Wednesday was a record, with nearly 19,000 administered at five locations and two mobile clinics. But Garcetti said Los Angeles received only 16,000 new doses of vaccine this week.
Since December, California has faced a dramatic increase in viral cases, concentrated in the southern part of the state and in the main agricultural area, the Central Valley, and the spread of a new local strain that may be more transmissible.
California now leads the country in the number of cases and deaths. Infection rates peaked over the holidays and have been declining since mid-January, but deaths remain at record levels.
Garcetti said Wednesday that the number of admissions to the Los Angeles hospital has dropped to about 3,700, the lowest number in months.
Dodger Stadium was one of many mass vaccination venues opened in stadiums and convention centers across the country. Typically, these venues give doses to thousands of people in a drive-in format so people can stay in their cars. But the mass immunization model faces supply issues and technical and logistical problems. In Dallas, technical problems in the city’s appointment registration system led to people being turned away from the Kay Bailey Hutchison convention center.
Two mass immunization sites in Arizona, State Farm Stadium and Phoenix Municipal Stadium, have not experienced vaccine shortages, but officials have limited the number of on-site appointments due to scheduled deliveries of Pfizer vaccines, said a spokesman for the Arizona Department of Health Services.
Despite the problems with the shortage, Los Angeles will continue with its mobile vaccination program, Garcetti said. “We can’t afford the epidemics and, frankly, the uneven mortality rates we see in communities of color,” he said.
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Credit… John Moore/Getty Images…
Officials in Michigan have confirmed the presence of a highly contagious variant of the coronavirus in a state prison. This is the first documented case of this type in a correctional facility in the U.S. – and a possible harbinger of an even greater spread of the virus in prisons, health officials said.
The Michigan Department of Corrections and Health Services reported Wednesday that an employee at the Bellamy Creek Correctional Center in Ionia, Michigan, was infected with variant B.1.1.7. The strain was first discovered in the United Kingdom in December. It appeared to spread more easily than other variants of the coronavirus.
The possibility that this option will spread rapidly in prisons and houses of detention, which are generally overcrowded, unsanitary and poorly ventilated, has alarmed public health experts.
“When we see rising infection rates in overcrowded spaces that don’t really lend themselves to social distance, we know there’s going to be an explosion of cases,” said Lauren Brinkley-Rubenstein, assistant professor at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine, “and that just means more cases, faster transfers and more devastation for inmates and prison staff.
Correctional facilities and detention centers have already been devastated by Covid-19. According to the New York Times database tracking infections in prisons and detention centers, more than 600,000 inmates and correctional facility workers have died, and 2,700 people
Michigan prison officials said that after confirming the variant, they had ordered daily testing of all inmates and staff at the prison, which houses more than 1,600 inmates. By Thursday, about 500 inmates and 100 correctional workers had contracted the coronavirus, and one inmate had died.
Thursday morning, it was still unclear whether anyone at the prison – other than a staff member – had become infected with the new variant.
Prison officials, however, have expressed concern about the possible extension of this possibility, as inmates from Bellamy Creek Correctional Centre were transferred to two other prisons – Duane Waters Medical Centre and Macomb Correctional Centre – before officials learned that the officer was ill.
Duane Waters Institution in Jackson is reserved for some of the most seriously ill inmates in the state’s prison system.
The prison system “will take additional steps to determine where this possibility exists among staff and inmates, and we will continue to make every effort to ensure the safety of inmates, staff and the community,” said Heidi Washington, director of the Michigan Department of Corrections, in a press release.
– Maura Turcotte and Anne Hinga Klein
Last month, San Diego residents lined up to get the Moderna vaccine. The credit… Ariana Dresler for The New York Times…
Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, President Biden’s chief medical advisor for Covid-19, said Thursday that much of the population could be eligible for the coronavirus vaccine as early as April.
“In March and April, the number of doses available will bring us much closer to mass immunization,” he said in an interview with “Today” host Savannah Guthrie.
To date, states have prioritized vaccinations of the elderly and health care workers, as well as essential workers and residents of long-term care facilities. In the past, Dr. Fauci has stated that vaccine availability is expected to increase significantly in the spring.
“I imagine it will be, for lack of a better word, ‘open season’ in April,” he said Thursday. “That is, virtually anyone in any category can get vaccinated.”
After that, it will take “a few more months” for the vaccines to reach most people, he said, adding that he hopes the vast majority of people in the United States can be vaccinated by mid- or late summer.
Although vaccine distribution in the United States has so far suffered from confusion, difficulties and delays, the average number of vaccines administered daily has steadily increased since late December. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that 1.56 million doses were administered Wednesday, bringing the average over the past seven days to more than 1.5 million per day.
The supply of vaccines is also increasing, although it still falls far short of demand. Moderna and Pfizer, whose vaccines are approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, are gradually increasing their production. Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose vaccine could be approved by the F.D.A. this month, and other vaccines from Novavax and AstraZeneca could also be approved for use in the U.S. in the spring.
Woman walks on the Anichkov Bridge in St. Petersburg, Russia. Credit… Sergey Ponomarev for The New York Times.
The coronavirus has been used as a pretext to restrict freedom of expression in dozens of countries, according to a report released Thursday by New York-based Human Rights Watch.
Citing instances of censorship, arbitrary arrests and physical attacks, the report concludes that at least 83 governments around the world have used the pandemic to silence critics or prevent peaceful gatherings.
The investigation found that in at least 18 countries military or police units attacked journalists, bloggers or critics of the government’s response to the pandemic, and in at least 10 countries officials used social distancing to prevent or disperse demonstrations, although they did allow other large gatherings.
The results suggest a tension at the heart of coronavirus restrictions: some of the same tools used by authorities to save lives and slow the spread of Covid-19-such as restricting large gatherings, combating misinformation, or imposing blockades-can also be used by authoritarian governments as a pretext to control citizens or stifle dissent.
China, Cuba, India, Egypt and Russia are among the countries where restrictions on freedom of expression are most acute, according to Human Rights Watch.
“The duty of governments to protect the public from this deadly pandemic is not to give carte blanche to suppress information and stifle dissent,” said Jerry Simpson, deputy director of Crisis and Conflict, in a press release.
The report is based on research by Human Rights Watch and data and reports from other non-governmental organizations, including the United Nations.
Tocilizumab, a drug for the treatment of arthritis, was recently approved for wider use in the UK to treat hospitalized patients with Covid 19 …Credit…Pascal Rossignol/Reuters
LONDON – A drug used to treat arthritis reduced the risk of death in hospitalized patients with covidosis 19 in a large clinical trial in the United Kingdom, improving prospects for widespread use of the drug after promising but mixed results in earlier, smaller studies.
The drug, tocilizumab, reduced mortality in critically ill Covid patients by 19-29 percent, compared with 33 percent in patients who received no treatment, according to an article published online Thursday and not yet published in an official scientific journal.
These results are reflected in the fact that for every 25 patients treated with the drug, one life is saved, significantly reducing the mortality rate and therefore relieving the burden on overburdened health systems.
In a desperate battle against a wave of infections and deaths, Britain last month urged doctors to start using tocilizumab after a small trial showed promising signs of its efficacy. The British government said Thursday that it will now make the drug available to thousands more patients.
“It’s good for patients and good for healthcare,” said Martin Landray, a professor at the University of Oxford who collaborated on the study, adding that the study would bear fruit “not just here in the UK, but internationally.”
To date, few drugs have been shown in large clinical trials to reduce mortality due to Covid-19. Steroids such as dexamethasone, which reduces mortality by a third in patients on ventilation and by a fifth in patients on oxygen, have been identified in the same clinical trials in the United Kingdom, demonstrating the role of the country’s centralized National Health Service in identifying treatments for covid-19.
Drug research in the United States is relatively poorly organized.
“After dexamethasone, this is the most important breakthrough in the treatment of covids that has an impact on reducing mortality,” Atimalaipet Ramanan, professor of pediatric rheumatology at the University of Bristol, said of the results of the tocilizumab trial.
More than 4,000 patients participated in the study, half of whom received the drug in addition to standard treatment such as dexamethasone and the other half did not. The study not only reduced mortality but also increased the likelihood that patients could be discharged from the hospital within 28 days.
Tocilizumab, an anti-inflammatory drug, suppresses the immune system’s response to the coronavirus, which in some cases can fail and destroy the body’s own tissues. Several small trials conducted earlier during the pandemic showed that people hospitalized for covid-19 had little benefit, and doctors said it might work for some patients, but not all.
Although dexamethasone is relatively inexpensive – about £5 or £7 per treatment – tocilizumab can cost about £500 or £700 per treatment, meaning it can be less affordable. But even this price is less than the cost of a bed in intensive care in the UK.
The seizure of counterfeit masks at a port warehouse in El Paso, Texas.Credit…U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, via Associated Press.
Many of them were smart people.
They were stamped with the 3M logo and shipped in boxes that read “Made in USA.”
But the so-called N95 masks were not made by 3M nor were they manufactured in the United States, federal investigators said Wednesday.
They were counterfeit and millions were purchased from hospitals, medical institutions and government agencies in at least five states, said federal authorities, who announced an investigation.
Homeland Security Investigations has stated that the masks are dangerous because they may not provide the same protection against the coronavirus as the real N95.
“We don’t know if they meet the standards,” said Brian Winehouse, special agent for internal security investigations.
Cassie Sauer, president and CEO of the Washington State Hospital Association, said that about two million counterfeit masks may have entered the state. These were “very good fakes,” she said.
“They look, feel, fit and breathe like a 3M mask,” Sauer said.
News of the investigation came on the same day that the Homeland Security intelligence community warned law enforcement that criminals were selling counterfeit coronavirus vaccines online for “hundreds of dollars per dose.”
Mass vaccination at Boston’s Fenway Park…credit…Charles Krupa/Associate Press
In an effort to vaccinate more residents aged 75 and older, Massachusetts authorities said they would also vaccinate companions, regardless of age, at mass vaccination sites, which could make navigation more confusing.
“The idea of mass vaccination can be a little intimidating,” Massachusetts Secretary of Health and Human Services Marilu Sudders said at a press conference Wednesday.
According to Ms. Sudders, knowing that the person accompanying them to the vaccination site will also be vaccinated “can be an added comfort to those who are hesitant or do not want to bother their caregiver or a family member or close friend to make an appointment.”
Massachusetts has administered nearly 1 million doses of the vaccine at nearly 130 sites in the state, Governor Charlie Baker said. About 10 percent of the population received at least one dose of the vaccine, and 2.8 percent received two, according to the New York Times tracker.
Starting Thursday, companion animals can schedule vaccinations at the same time as the elderly.
Joan Hatem-Roy, executive director of Elder Services of Merrimack Valley, a nonprofit group in northeastern Massachusetts, called the idea a “game changer.
“I get nervous going to a Patriots game at Gillette, so I can imagine the senior trying to remember going to Gillette Stadium,” said Hatem-Roy, one of the inoculations.
Concerns have been raised that young people, who are less susceptible to serious virus-induced illness, would be vaccinated earlier than people aged 65 or older or those with chronic diseases. However, Mr. Baker said the immediate goal is to ensure that people aged 75 and older are vaccinated.
“In these communities, they are much more likely to die and be hospitalized as a result of Covida,” he said. “We want to make it as easy as possible for people over 75 to get vaccinated and immunized early.
The state’s decision to vaccinate companions came as a surprise to Dr. Ashish Jha, dean of the School of Public Health at Brown University. He said Massachusetts had not moved as quickly to vaccinate as expected. He said he preferred that vulnerable populations be vaccinated first and that any transportation problems be addressed without the accompanying vaccines.
“I know the governor is under a lot of pressure to improve the numbers in the state,” Dr. Jha said. “That could be part of the motivation for that, because it will certainly increase those numbers.
He did not expect other states to follow his example – at least not immediately. But Dr. Jha said the situation could change in April or May, when the supply of vaccines could exceed demand.
In some places, a similar model has been tried on a smaller scale.
In Albemarle County, Virginia, 70 caregivers and family members of people with intellectual disabilities have been vaccinated, according to local station NBC29. In Texas, seniors and people with disabilities want their caregivers to be vaccinated at home, but many employees refuse, according to the Texas Tribune.
With scams involving vaccines, tests and premiums already surfacing, Dr. Jha was concerned that fraudsters might try to use the new program in Massachusetts to take advantage of older residents.
“I don’t know how you question that,” he said. “There are bad actors who might try to manipulate it.”
On Wednesday, Ms. Sudders herself warned and urged the elderly not to accept offers from foreigners to be their vaccination escorts.
Robert F. Kennedy Jr. at a rally against coronavirus restrictions in Berlin last year. Credit… Sean Gallup/Getty Images.
On Wednesday, Instagram attributed false information about the coronavirus to Robert F. Kennedy Jr. a well-known political scientist and anti-virus activist.
“We deleted this account because it repeatedly shared debunked claims about coronaviruses or vaccines,” Facebook, which is owned by Instagram, said in a message.
Mr. Kennedy, son of former U.S. Senator and Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, has championed the environment for decades but is now more widely known as an anti-vaccine activist. A 2019 investigation found that two groups, including his nonprofit now called Child Health Advocacy, funded more than half of the Facebook ads that spread misinformation about vaccines.
During the pandemic, it found an even wider audience on platforms like Instagram, where it had 800,000 followers. Although Kennedy has said he is not against vaccines as long as they are safe, he regularly supports the discredited link between vaccines and autism, arguing that it is safer to contract the coronavirus than to be vaccinated against it.
Facebook is becoming increasingly aggressive in its efforts to stamp out misinformation about vaccines, declaring this week that it will remove posts with false claims about coronaviruses, coronavirus vaccines and vaccines in general, whether they are paid ads or personalized posts. In addition to Kennedy’s Instagram account, the company said Wednesday that it has removed several other Instagram accounts and Facebook pages under the new policy.
Mr. Kennedy’s Facebook page, active since Thursday morning and making many of the same baseless claims to more than 300,000 followers, was not included. The company said it does not automatically deactivate accounts on all its platforms and that there were no plans “at this time” to delete Mr. Kennedy’s Facebook account.
Child Health Advocacy did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Members of Mr. Kennedy’s family have denounced his anti-vaccine efforts, including a brother, sister and niece who accused him of spreading “dangerous misinformation” in a column they wrote for Politico in 2019. Another niece, Kerry Kennedy Meltzer, a physician at New York Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center, wrote an opinion piece in the New York Times in December disputing his claims.
“I love my Uncle Bobby,” she writes, “and I admire him for many reasons, including his years of fighting for a clean environment. But when it comes to vaccines, he’s wrong”.
Dr. Hasan Gokal at home in Sugar Land, Texas, Tuesday. The credit… Brandon Thibodeau for The New York Times.
A doctor in Texas administered expired doses of Covid-19 vaccine in just six hours and vaccinated 10 people, but he was fired and charged with theft of doses as a result.
The doctor, Hassan Gokal, escaped in December by making house calls and leading people to his home outside Houston. Some were acquaintances, others strangers. A Hagen resident confined to bed. An 80-year-old woman with dementia. A mother and child using a ventilator.
After midnight and only minutes before the vaccine became unusable, Dr. Gokal gave the last dose to his wife, who suffers from a lung disease that prevents her from breathing.
For his actions, Dr. Gokal was fired from his government job and then accused of stealing 10 doses of vaccine totaling $135 – a crime that made his name and his mistreatment known worldwide.
“That was my world,” he said Friday in a telephone interview. “When it all comes at you. My God, that was the deepest moment of my life.”
The fact is that Americans, tired of the pandemic, are scouring websites and crossing state lines to chase rumors in search of a rare cure.
Late last month, a judge declared the charges baseless, but the local prosecutor promised to take the case to a grand jury. And while the prosecutor portrays the doctor as a cold-blooded opportunist, his lawyer says he acted responsibly – even heroically.
“Everybody looked at this guy and said, ‘My mother is waiting for the vaccine, my grandfather is waiting for the vaccine,’” said attorney Paul Doyle. “And they thought, ‘This guy is bad.’”
A dose of the vaccine made in India is administered in Colombo, Sri Lanka in January. Credit….Dinuka Liyanawatt/Reuters
It is one of the world’s most coveted trade goods and has become the new currency of international diplomacy: countries with the resources or know-how can use coronavirus vaccines to gain favors or thaw their relations.
India, the poster child for vaccine production, distributes millions of doses to friendly and distant neighbors. It is trying to counterbalance China, which has made shooting a central element of its foreign relations. And the United Arab Emirates, relying on its oil wealth, is buying shots on behalf of its allies.
But there are risks associated with this strategy.
India and China have huge populations in need of vaccination. Although both countries show little sign of grumbling, this could change if doses are sold during public opening hours or donated abroad.
“The Indians are dying. Indians are still sick,” said Manoj Joshi, a leading researcher at the Observer Research Foundation, a New Delhi-based think tank. “I would understand if our needs were met and you gave everything. But I think you are trying to adopt a false morality, saying we give away our stuff before we use it ourselves.”
As for India, its inoculation with soft power gave it the opportunity to gloat with China after years of watching the Chinese make political gains in their own backyard – in Sri Lanka, the Maldives, Nepal and elsewhere. Beijing offered significant financial resources and quick responses when it came to large investments that India, with its layered bureaucracy and fractured economy, struggled to make.
India, for example, has sent vaccine doses to Nepal, a country increasingly under Chinese influence. And Sri Lanka, which is in the midst of a diplomatic battle between New Delhi and Beijing, is receiving doses from both sides.
The donor countries are making their offers at a time when the United States and other rich countries are building global reserves. The poorest countries are desperate for theirs, and this inequality, which the World Health Organization recently warned about, has brought the world “to the brink of a catastrophic moral collapse.”
As they test their health systems like never before, many countries are eager to take up the offer, and donors may be rewarded with some political goodwill.
“Instead of securing the country by sending troops, you can secure the country by saving lives, saving their economy, helping them get vaccinated,” said Dania Tafer, executive director of the International Gulf Forum, a Washington-based think tank.
In other world news:
- New Zealand will receive the first batch of Pfizer-BioNTech’s order of 1.5 million doses of vaccine next week and plans to begin vaccinating its border officials earlier than planned on February 20, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said Friday. The country, which has eliminated all local transmission of the virus, has signed additional supply agreements with Janssen Pharmaceutica, Novavax and AstraZeneca and plans to begin vaccinating the general population in the second quarter, Ardern said.
Restaurant closed at Central Market in Los Angeles. Workers in the hospitality and leisure industries were particularly affected by job losses during the pandemic. Credit… Philip Cheung for the New York Times.
Although the number of layoffs in the U.S. remains extremely high by historical standards, applications for unemployment benefits continue to decline as the number of coronavirus cases and activity restrictions decline.
The Department of Labor announced Thursday morning that initial jobless claims fell for the fourth consecutive week last week.
Last week there were 813,000 new government applications, up from 850,000 the week before. Seasonally adjusted, the number last week was 793,000, down 19,000.
There were 335,000 new applications for unemployment benefits, a government-funded program for part-time workers, the self-employed and others not normally entitled to unemployment compensation. This figure, which is not seasonally adjusted, was lower than the previous week’s 369,000.
The number of new cases of the coronavirus is down by a third from two weeks ago, prompting states like California and New York to ease restrictions on eating and other indoor activities.
“We’re stuck at a very high level of job applications, but things are picking up,” said Julia Pollack, labor economist at ZipRecruiter, an online job marketplace. ZipRecruiter has 11.3 million job openings, which is close to the pre-pandemic level (11.4 million).
Ms. Pollack added that the improvement in the pandemic situation had eased the pressure on canteens. However, more generally, the leisure and hospitality sector remained under pressure.
There are many other signs of weakness. On Friday, the Labor Department said employers added only 49,000 jobs in January, underscoring the problems of nearly 10 million unemployed.
President Biden cited weak indicators for approval of his $1.9 trillion plan for pandemic aid. He will send $1,400 to many Americans. He will send millions of dollars to many Americans, help states and cities, and extend millions of dollars in unemployment benefits that expire in mid-March.
Pollack said recent job postings to ZipRecruiter employers have been encouraging. “We have seen employers exceed all of our expectations and show great wealth,” she said.
Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith is chair of President Biden’s Task Force on Covid-19 Shares. The credit… Yale University, via Associated Press
President Biden wants racial justice to be central to a just national response to the coronavirus. And Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith, a Yale epidemiologist who grew up in the U.S. Virgin Islands, is leading that effort.
Dr. Nunez-Smith, chair of Mr. Biden’s Covid-19 task force on equal opportunity, spoke to the New York Times about the challenges she faces in her role.
He is responsible for advising the president on resource allocation and helping underserved populations fight a pandemic that is devastating people of color. Blacks and Hispanics are almost twice as likely as whites to die from Covid-19.
“Make no mistake – defeating this pandemic is hard work,” Dr. Nunez-Smith told reporters Wednesday after the White House named the members of the task force. “Overcoming this pandemic while ensuring that everyone in every community has a fair chance to stay safe or regain their health is hard work and well done,” he told reporters Wednesday after the White House appointed the members of the task force.
Q. You’ve only been in the office for a few weeks. What have you learned?
A. The good thing is that this is a public confrontation. I hear from ordinary Americans every day. People write all the time with their own experiences.
Clearly, racial disparities in health care cannot be eliminated overnight, so what do you want to accomplish, at least in the short term? What about in the long term?
We got advice on how to respond quickly, and then we paved the way for our own capital in the recovery process. We talk a lot about vaccines, but we must not forget everything else. We think about essential workers and those who still suffer from inadequate protection in the workplace. Access to testing is also unequal.
It is exciting to see new technologies emerge, but we must also ensure that everyone can benefit from all scientific discoveries.