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Coronovirus outbreak at massive remote Trident seafood plant in Akutan now extends to 135 workers – Anchorage Daily News

Coronovirus outbreak at massive remote Trident seafood plant in Akutan now extends to 135 workers - Anchorage Daily News

A COVID-19 outbreak at the Trident Seafoods plant in the tiny, remote community of Akutan now encompasses 135 workers including several sick enough to require medevacs to Anchorage.

The plant, North America’s largest, right now has about 700 workers quarantined on an island in the Bering Sea with the nearest hospital hundreds of miles away. Trident is taking the unusual step of stockpiling medical supplies including ventilators in case weather grounds air ambulances.

Two COVID-positive workers were sick enough to get flown Monday to Anchorage for hospitalization, according to state health officials. Another worker with breathing problems was medevaced earlier.

“We arranged Coast Guard-assisted evacuations yesterday for two employees whose condition was quickly worsening,” Trident spokeswoman Stefanie Moreland said in a statement Tuesday. “We now have more private-sector resources lined up in case further emergency evacuations are needed and weather permits.”

The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services said Tuesday that 135 out of 307 employees tested so far came back positive for COVID-19.

Five workers have been medevaced in recent days, not all for virus-related problems, including the two COVID-19 patients flown out Monday, officials say. Three others have been released and are staying in Anchorage.

As a precaution, Trident sent out ventilators, oxygen and CPAP breathing machines, spokesman Shannon Carroll said Tuesday. “No one is on ventilators or oxygen currently.”

Trident is also taking the unusual step of sending off-island employees with underlying medical conditions that put them at high risk of more severe infections if they get the virus. The company is sending those employees by boat to Unalaska about 35 miles away where they are being flown to quarantine in Anchorage.

Fifteen had left or were departing by mid-day Tuesday, according to state epidemiologist Dr. Joe McLaughlin.

Such outbreaks can take weeks to play out, state health officials say.

The Trident plant sits about a half mile from Akutan but operates as a closed campus, a policy that started in March when the pandemic began. The workforce dwarfs the community’s population of about 100. Workers complete a 14-day quarantine before getting on the island.

It’s unclear how the virus got into the facility.

The plant is a processing hub for Bering Sea harvests of pollock, crab and cod. The workforce is expected to swell to 1,400 in the weeks ahead, provided normal operations resume. The company last week said it opted to hold about 365 workers in Anchorage once their quarantine ended.

Trident officials say the number of positive cases out of total tests is relatively high for now, partly because they tested high-risk populations and known close contacts of infected workers first. The company won’t report the final rate of positive test until it has rapid results from mosts employees.

The outbreak was first discovered on Jan. 17 when a plant worker with breathing problems was tested prior to the Coast Guard flight out. Three of their roommates tested positive that day.

More testing is continuing, Trident officials said. Weather delays last week initially slowed that process but supplies and additional medical professionals are now on site.

A medical team is conducting rapid antigen tests for quick results and is also collecting samples for PCR tests, which detect the virus’ genetic material and are slower but more accurate, to be shipped to a lab outside of the region, the company said.

Trident is paying the Akutan employees during the shutdown, officials said.

“We’re providing safe activities, wellness support, WIFI data cards for downloading books, magazines and other entertainment, and are providing a safe checkout and return process for on-site games and movies,” Moreland said. “We’re grateful for our people’s strength and resilience in a challenging situation.”

The Daily News has been unable to reach workers at the plant.

The Trident outbreak is the third in a seafood processing plant in the Aleutian Islands, about a week into the billion-dollar Bering Sea pollock fishery. Crab and cod seasons were underway. The pollock season began Jan. 20.

Pollock, a small white-fleshed fish found in abundance in the Bering, is part of a multi-billion-dollar industry that churns out everything from fish sticks to sushi.

Westward Seafoods, owner of Alyeska Seafoods Inc. in Unalaska, on Friday became the third Aleutian plant to temporarily shut down. The plant halted production based on a cluster of positive COVID-19 cases identified during surveillance testing of workers at the Alyeska plant, according to a city update.

Alyeska “has enacted their plans for responding to positive cases identified within their workforce” which includes isolating people who test positive, helping with contact tracing, quarantining people found to be close contacts of infected workers and conducting more testing.

A message left at the company’s Seattle headquarters Tuesday was not returned.

An outbreak at another Unalaska plant, operated by UniSea, shut down earlier though officials have said they hoped to reopen by this weekend. A UniSea representative did not return a request for information Tuesday about the reopening schedule.

As of Monday, 30 of the 32 active cases in Unalaska were industry-related, according to the city website. Five new industry cases were reported that day. Overall, that’s a decline from the 50 active industry cases reported Friday.

The sudden plant shut down left some fishermen stuck at the docks with holds full of fish, according to a report by Alaska Public Media.

Last year’s crab, cod and pollock seasons didn’t trigger any major outbreaks. That’s because plants already had workers contained on site when the pandemic surfaced in Alaska. This year, workers traveled from the Lower 48, where transmission is ongoing. Many companies also operate open campus facilities in Alaskan communities with high rates of COVID-19 spread.

The situation is bad but not as bad as it could be, at least for now, industry observers say. Unlike derby-style salmon fisheries, pollock is managed on a quota basis in which shares are assigned to cooperatives that decide when they want to harvest their fish.

The growing concern, however, is for continued outbreaks that push plant closures for weeks, deeper into the current fishing season that runs into April.

“We have a great team focused on making sure we’re preventing further spread of the virus while we continue to assess each individual employee’s health, care for the sick and understand who has already been infected,” Trident CEO Joe Bundrant said in Tuesday’s statement. “We will take every step possible to ensure our people and plant are safe before restarting production.”

— Reporter Annie Berman contributed to this story.

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California To Give 40% Of Vaccine Doses To Vulnerable Areas – HuffPost

California To Give 40% Of Vaccine Doses To Vulnerable Areas - HuffPost

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California will begin setting aside 40% of all vaccine doses for the state’s most vulnerable neighborhoods in an effort to inoculate people most at risk from the coronavirus and get the state’s economy open more quickly.

Two officials in Gov. Gavin Newsom’s administration shared details Wednesday on condition of anonymity.

The doses will be spread out among 400 ZIP codes with about 8 million people eligible for shots. Many of the neighborhoods are concentrated in Los Angeles County and the Central Valley. The areas are considered most vulnerable based on metrics such as household income, education level, housing status and access to transportation.

Once 2 million vaccine doses are given out in those neighborhoods, the state will make it easier for counties to move through reopening tiers that dictate business and school reopenings.

Right now, a county can move from the most restrictive purple tier to the lower red tier based on several metrics, including having 7 or fewer new COVID cases per 100,000 people per day over a period of several weeks. That metric will change to 10 new cases or fewer. In the red tier, businesses such as restaurants and gyms can open for indoor services at limited capacity.

Also in the red tier, schools that want to access new state funding must provide in-person learning for students in transitional kindergarten through grade 6 and at least one grade each in middle and high school.

About 1.6 million vaccine doses already have been given to people in those 400 ZIP codes, and the state will hit the 2 million mark in the next week or two, officials said.

Jaimie Mitchell, left, screens Fulerun Begum at a vaccination site opened by St. John's Well Child and Family Center at East

Jaimie Mitchell, left, screens Fulerun Begum at a vaccination site opened by St. John’s Well Child and Family Center at East Los Angeles Civic Center on March 3, 2021 in Los Angeles.

Once the state gives out 4 million doses in those neighborhoods, it will revise the metrics for getting into the even less restrictive orange and yellow tiers.

Newsom has called equity the state’s “North Star.” Yet community health clinics focused on serving low-income and vulnerable Californians say they haven’t been getting enough doses.

The changes mark a fresh round of twists in California’s vaccination and reopening plans. People age 65 and over, farmworkers, educators and emergency service workers are also eligible for shots.

More counties have already been moving into the red tier as caseloads, hospitalizations and deaths drop. The state’s average 2.2% test positivity rate over 7 days is a record low.

Officials are making it easier to move through reopening tiers, arguing the likelihood of widespread transmission that can overwhelm hospitals will decrease as more people are vaccinated. That’s particularly true as the most vulnerable populations that are more likely to get seriously ill receive the shots.

While race and ethnicity are not explicit factors in designating vaccinations, the 400 vulnerable ZIP codes overlap heavily with neighborhoods with higher populations of Blacks, Latinos and Asian and Pacific Islanders, officials said.

Los Angeles County could move into the next phase of reopening with fewer restrictions as early as next week, though any actual lifting of coronavirus-related constraints would not happen immediately, county officials said earlier Wednesday.

Most San Francisco Bay Area counties have advanced to the next phase, which allows restaurants and movie theaters to open indoors at 25% capacity and gyms to operate at 10% capacity.

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Most coronavirus deaths have occurred in countries where majority of adults are overweight – Washington Post

Most coronavirus deaths have occurred in countries where majority of adults are overweight - Washington Post

Among the nations with overweight populations above the 50 percent threshold were also those with some of the largest proportions of coronavirus deaths — including countries such as Britain, Italy and the United States. Some 2.5 million people have died around the world of covid-19, more than 517,000 of which were in the United States.

In some cases, the correlations between coronavirus severity and weight are also tied to racial and ethnic inequality. In the United States, “Hispanic and non-Hispanic Black adults have a higher prevalence of obesity and are more likely to suffer worse outcomes from COVID-19,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The report found that in countries where less than half of the adult population is classified as overweight, the likelihood of death from covid-19 was about one-tenth of the levels in countries with higher shares of overweight adults. A higher BMI was also associated with increased risk of hospitalization, admission to intensive or critical care and the need for mechanically assisted ventilation.

In Britain, overweight coronavirus patients were 67 percent more likely to require intensive care, and obese patients three times likelier.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who was hospitalized and required oxygen therapy after contracting the disease last spring, has campaigned in recent months for Britons to lose weight to reduce health risks and support the country’s overburdened National Health Service.

Speaking last year, Johnson said he had long struggled with his weight and was “too fat” when he was sickened with the disease that has claimed more than 124,000 lives in the United Kingdom. He is often spotted out running near his home in central London alongside his personal trainer.

The World Obesity Federation findings were near-uniform across the globe, the report said, and found that increased body weight was the second greatest predictor after old age of hospitalization and higher risk of death of covid-19.

As a result, the London-based federation urged governments to prioritize overweight people for coronavirus testing and vaccinations.

The United Nations warned in 2020 that obesity is a “global pandemic in its own right.”

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President Bidens New Malaria Czar Is Dr. Raj Panjabi : Goats and Soda – NPR

President Bidens New Malaria Czar Is Dr. Raj Panjabi : Goats and Soda - NPR
President Bidens New Malaria Czar Is Dr. Raj Panjabi : Goats and Soda - NPR

Dr. Raj Panjabi, the newly named head of the President’s Malaria Initiative, treating patients during a visit to Liberia, where he was born and lived until 1990. He’ll lead the effort to prevent and treat malaria around the world. Each year, some 400,000 people die of a disease that, he notes, is “preventable and treatable.”

Gabriel Diamond/Skoll Foundation

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Gabriel Diamond/Skoll Foundation

President Bidens New Malaria Czar Is Dr. Raj Panjabi : Goats and Soda - NPR

Dr. Raj Panjabi, the newly named head of the President’s Malaria Initiative, treating patients during a visit to Liberia, where he was born and lived until 1990. He’ll lead the effort to prevent and treat malaria around the world. Each year, some 400,000 people die of a disease that, he notes, is “preventable and treatable.”

Gabriel Diamond/Skoll Foundation

Here’s a few things you probably didn’t know about malaria and the U.S.

At least eight U.S. presidents had it, including George Washington (infected in Virginia), Abraham Lincoln (infected in Illinois) and John F. Kennedy (infected in the Solomon Islands during World War II).

The current U.S. caseload is zero (with the exception of Americans who contract the disease abroad).

The U.S. actually has a malaria czar: the U.S. Global Malaria Coordinator for the President’s Malaria Initiative, overseeing an annual budget of $770 million. The goal of the initiative is to wipe out this potentially fatal disease, spread by mosquitoes, which infects some 220 million people a year.

And now there’s a new malaria coordinator. In February, President Joe Biden appointed Dr. Raj Panjabi, an instructor at Harvard Medical School and the founder of Last Mile Health, which aims to bring health care to hard-to-reach places. In 2017, he won the $1 million TED annual award given to an “exceptional individual with a creative and bold vision to solve a timely, pressing problem.”

Malaria is a disease Panjabi is all too familiar with. He had it a couple of times as a kid growing up in Liberia where his parents, Indian immigrants, had settled before fleeing civil war in 1989 and eventually coming to the U.S.

We spoke to Panjabi about his new position. The interview has been edited for clarity and length.

What made you want to take on malaria as a health challenge?

Traveling to Liberia as an American medical student, I saw the relief on the faces of parents whose children were dying from this preventable and treatable disease – and who survived after being treated by medicines and health workers supported by programs that the President’s Malaria Initiative had been building.

That’s why, when I was asked by Biden to take on this role, I couldn’t say no. I know how impactful this [U.S.] program has been.

For those of us unfamiliar with the arc of the disease, can you share your childhood memories?

The first time, I was a 13-month-old. I got it again when I was 6 years old. I don’t want to gross folks out but it’s like an intense version of the flu: vomiting, fever, diarrhea. I remember vomiting a spew on the floor of my parents’ bedroom, having to be cared for by mom for a good two to three days before the [anti-malarial] medicine started to work.

That experience for a parent and a child is the lived experience of hundreds of millions of people every day.

And malaria takes the lives of 400,000 people a year still — many of them children, the way I was when I got it.

But it’s no longer a problem in the U.S., correct?

During the civil war there were 1.3 million cases of malaria and 10,000 deaths among soldiers and civilians. Up until the early 1950s, it was still prevalent in the American South.

And now …

It’s been not only eliminated from the U.S., but in countries in Latin America and southeast Asia it’s either been eliminated or on the brink [of elimination]. [Editor’s note: This week, El Salvador announced that, with support from the U.S., it had joined the malaria-free club.]

How did the U.S. do it?

The spraying of chemicals that killed the mosquitoes and also improvements in social and economic conditions — housing improved, workers began spending more time indoors.

What would it take to stop deaths and wipe out malaria in the rest of the world?

That same holistic approach: tests, treatments, indoor spraying on walls so the mosquitoes die, bed nets with the same [anti-mosquito] chemicals.

Yet it seems as if it’s easy for those in well-off countries to forget about malaria altogether.

There is a bias in global health. When a disease becomes a disease of poverty, those who are powerful may not pay as much attention. That said, it would be such a mistake to think taking our foot off the gas in responding to malaria would be a wise thing to do. As COVID has shown, diseases are able to spread fast and furious. A health threat anywhere is threat to people everywhere.

Speaking of COVID: What’s the impact of the pandemic on malaria?

Just because COVID is infecting so many people doesn’t mean the malaria disease burden has gotten any less. It’s gotten worse because COVID has disrupted health care systems dramatically and that has put the strain on health workers and clinics, disrupted supply chains as well. We need to make sure nets and malaria tests and treatments get to people.

In this age-old battle against the coronavirus pathogen, some people doubt the need to comply with preventive measures. Are there lessons from your past work in global health that would be useful for Americans to learn?

In my career in medicine and public health, I’ve had a chance to respond to several epidemics, including Ebola, HIV, malaria and COVID-19. If I’ve learned one thing about epidemics it is this: Outbreaks start and stop in communities. People trust their neighbor. People trust those who share their lived experiences. We are more likely to defeat infectious diseases when we invest in the [health workers] closest to the outbreak as not just a part but the heart of our response.

Meanwhile, some might wonder: How can we focus on malaria in the midst of a global pandemic?

You’re getting at a deeper issue: Why care about malaria when we have COVID?

I think there are really three reasons.

First, it’s the right thing to do. We have the tools to stop the suffering.

Second, it builds health systems that keep us all safer. These armies of health workers, networks of clinics and laboratories we’ve invested in to engage in the fight against malaria also help us respond to other threats. Some of these workers are the first workers to respond to COVID and Ebola and every new pathogen.

And the third reason – maybe it sounds cheesy but I think it’s existential — is a four-letter word: hope. More people have died from infectious diseases than any other phenomenon. We are engaged in a historic fight as always between human and pathogen.

We’re at this turning point with malaria, one of the deadliest and oldest pathogens. If we lost this war against malaria, I think we create despair to fight future pandemics.

Science shows we can defeat malaria in this generation. Then we create hope we can defeat future pandemics. And at an existential level, hope matters.

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St. Louis-area hospitals may still be vaccinating seniors when 500000 more Missourians will be eligible for vaccine in mid-March –

St. Louis-area hospitals may still be vaccinating seniors when 500000 more Missourians will be eligible for vaccine in mid-March -

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Covid-19 death rates 10 times higher in countries where most adults are overweight, report finds – CNN

Covid-19 death rates 10 times higher in countries where most adults are overweight, report finds - CNN
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CNN.isLoggedInVideoCheck(autoStartVideo) : autoStartVideo;if (autoStartVideo === true) {if (turnOnFlashMessaging === true) {autoStartVideo = false;containerEl = jQuery(document.getElementById(configObj.markupId));CNN.VideoPlayer.showFlashSlate(containerEl);} else {CNN.autoPlayVideoExist = true;}}}configObj.autostart = CNN.Features.enableAutoplayBlock ? false : autoStartVideo;CNN.VideoPlayer.setPlayerProperties(configObj.markupId, autoStartVideo, isLivePlayer, isVideoReplayClicked, mutePlayerEnabled);CNN.VideoPlayer.setFirstVideoInCollection(currentVideoCollection, configObj.markupId);videoEndSlateImpl = new CNN.VideoEndSlate(‘large-media_0’);function findNextVideo(currentVideoId) {var i,vidObj;if (currentVideoId && jQuery.isArray(currentVideoCollection) && currentVideoCollection.length > 0) {for (i = 0; i 0) {videoEndSlateImpl.showEndSlateForContainer();if (mobilePinnedView) {mobilePinnedView.disable();}}}}callbackObj = {onPlayerReady: function (containerId) {var playerInstance,containerClassId = ‘#’ + containerId;CNN.VideoPlayer.handleInitialExpandableVideoState(containerId);CNN.VideoPlayer.handleAdOnCVPVisibilityChange(containerId, CNN.pageVis.isDocumentVisible());if (CNN.Features.enableMobileWebFloatingPlayer &&Modernizr &&( || || Modernizr.tablet) &&CNN.VideoPlayer.getLibraryName(containerId) === ‘fave’ &&jQuery(containerClassId).parents(‘.js-pg-rail-tall__head’).length > 0 &&CNN.contentModel.pageType === ‘article’) {playerInstance = FAVE.player.getInstance(containerId);mobilePinnedView = new CNN.MobilePinnedView({element: jQuery(containerClassId),enabled: false,transition: CNN.MobileWebFloatingPlayer.transition,onPin: function () {playerInstance.hideUI();},onUnpin: function () {playerInstance.showUI();},onPlayerClick: function () {if (mobilePinnedView) {playerInstance.enterFullscreen();playerInstance.showUI();}},onDismiss: function() {;playerInstance.pause();}});/* Storing pinned view on So that all players can see the single pinned player */CNN.Videx = CNN.Videx || {}; = || {}; = mobilePinnedView;}if (Modernizr && ! && ! && !Modernizr.tablet) {if (jQuery(containerClassId).parents(‘.js-pg-rail-tall__head’).length) {videoPinner = new CNN.VideoPinner(containerClassId);videoPinner.init();} else {CNN.VideoPlayer.hideThumbnail(containerId);}}},onContentEntryLoad: function(containerId, playerId, contentid, isQueue) {CNN.VideoPlayer.showSpinner(containerId);},onContentPause: function (containerId, playerId, videoId, paused) {if (mobilePinnedView) {CNN.VideoPlayer.handleMobilePinnedPlayerStates(containerId, paused);}},onContentMetadata: function (containerId, playerId, metadata, contentId, duration, width, height) {var endSlateLen = jQuery(document.getElementById(containerId)).parent().find(‘.js-video__end-slate’).eq(0).length;CNN.VideoSourceUtils.updateSource(containerId, metadata);if (endSlateLen > 0) {videoEndSlateImpl.fetchAndShowRecommendedVideos(metadata);}},onAdPlay: function (containerId, cvpId, token, mode, id, duration, blockId, adType) {/* Dismissing the pinnedPlayer if another video players plays an Ad */CNN.VideoPlayer.dismissMobilePinnedPlayer(containerId);clearTimeout(moveToNextTimeout);CNN.VideoPlayer.hideSpinner(containerId);if (Modernizr && ! && ! && !Modernizr.tablet) {if (typeof videoPinner !== ‘undefined’ && videoPinner !== null) {videoPinner.setIsPlaying(true);videoPinner.animateDown();}}},onAdPause: function (containerId, playerId, token, mode, id, duration, blockId, adType, instance, isAdPause) {if (mobilePinnedView) {CNN.VideoPlayer.handleMobilePinnedPlayerStates(containerId, isAdPause);}},onTrackingFullscreen: function (containerId, PlayerId, dataObj) {CNN.VideoPlayer.handleFullscreenChange(containerId, dataObj);if (mobilePinnedView &&typeof dataObj === ‘object’ &&FAVE.Utils.os === ‘iOS’ && !dataObj.fullscreen) {jQuery(document).scrollTop(mobilePinnedView.getScrollPosition());playerInstance.hideUI();}},onContentPlay: function (containerId, cvpId, event) {var playerInstance,prevVideoId;if (CNN.companion && typeof CNN.companion.updateCompanionLayout === ‘function’) {CNN.companion.updateCompanionLayout(‘restoreEpicAds’);}clearTimeout(moveToNextTimeout);CNN.VideoPlayer.hideSpinner(containerId);if (Modernizr && ! && ! && !Modernizr.tablet) {if (typeof videoPinner !== ‘undefined’ && videoPinner !== null) {videoPinner.setIsPlaying(true);videoPinner.animateDown();}}},onContentReplayRequest: function (containerId, cvpId, contentId) {if (Modernizr && ! && ! && !Modernizr.tablet) {if (typeof videoPinner !== ‘undefined’ && videoPinner !== null) {videoPinner.setIsPlaying(true);var $endSlate = jQuery(document.getElementById(containerId)).parent().find(‘.js-video__end-slate’).eq(0);if ($endSlate.length > 0) {$endSlate.removeClass(‘video__end-slate–active’).addClass(‘video__end-slate–inactive’);}}}},onContentBegin: function (containerId, cvpId, contentId) {if (mobilePinnedView) {mobilePinnedView.enable();}/* Dismissing the pinnedPlayer if another video players plays a video. */CNN.VideoPlayer.dismissMobilePinnedPlayer(containerId);CNN.VideoPlayer.mutePlayer(containerId);if (CNN.companion && typeof CNN.companion.updateCompanionLayout === ‘function’) {CNN.companion.updateCompanionLayout(‘removeEpicAds’);}CNN.VideoPlayer.hideSpinner(containerId);clearTimeout(moveToNextTimeout);CNN.VideoSourceUtils.clearSource(containerId);jQuery(document).triggerVideoContentStarted();},onContentComplete: function (containerId, cvpId, contentId) {if (CNN.companion && typeof CNN.companion.updateCompanionLayout === ‘function’) {CNN.companion.updateCompanionLayout(‘restoreFreewheel’);}navigateToNextVideo(contentId, containerId);},onContentEnd: function (containerId, cvpId, contentId) {if (Modernizr && ! && ! && !Modernizr.tablet) {if (typeof videoPinner !== ‘undefined’ && videoPinner !== null) {videoPinner.setIsPlaying(false);}}},onCVPVisibilityChange: function (containerId, cvpId, visible) {CNN.VideoPlayer.handleAdOnCVPVisibilityChange(containerId, visible);}};if (typeof configObj.context !== ‘string’ || configObj.context.length 0) {configObj.adsection = window.ssid;}CNN.autoPlayVideoExist = (CNN.autoPlayVideoExist === true) ? true : false;CNN.VideoPlayer.getLibrary(configObj, callbackObj, isLivePlayer);});CNN.INJECTOR.scriptComplete(‘videodemanddust’);

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