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LA Libraries Shut Down Due To Coronavirus. Here's The Official Statement

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Los Angeles' Central Public Library (Photo by Charley Gallay/Getty Images)
Here's the statement from Los Angeles library officials on why they have shut down their facilities:
Like all Angelenos, we are facing the challenges of a quickly changing landscape in response to the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19). As always, the health and safety of our patrons and staff is our priority.
We are in constant communication with other city departments, local officials and health authorities.
Following Mayor Garcetti’s directive and out of an abundance of caution, we want to share the steps the library is taking to protect the health and safety of our patrons and staff while still providing essential library services:
  • Following guidelines limiting the number of people in public buildings, we have closed the Central Library and the 72 branch libraries through March 31.
  • During this time, due dates for borrowed materials will be automatically extended, no late fines will be assessed, and patrons can return materials when libraries reopen.
  • Librarians are available to provide assistance through telephone reference (213) 228-7272; the web-based service, Ask A Librarian; and Book A Librarian.
  • Of course our many digital services remain available 24/7 at lapl.org, including e-books and audiobooks; streaming TV, movie and music services; classes and digital subscriptions to newspapers and magazines.
  • We created and will continue to update this resource page in English and Spanish with information about the COVID-19 virus and how to keep you and your loved ones safe.

You can stay updated on the library here on our website and following our social media accounts
Once again, your health and safety is of utmost importance, and we will evaluate and adjust as new information becomes available. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause, and we thank you for your continued understanding and support.

MORE ON CORONAVIRUS:

A Runoff Is Becoming A Possibility In LA's DA Race

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Photo credits, L-R: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images; Damian Dovarganes/AP; Jesse Grant/Getty Images

There are still a lot of votes left to count, but it’s looking like the race for Los Angeles County District Attorney could be headed for a runoff.

An updated vote count today has incumbent DA Jackie Lacey still far ahead of her two challengers, with more than 49% of the vote.

But Lacey has now fallen 12,226 votes short of the magic 50%-plus-one that she needs to avoid a November runoff.

If things do end up in a runoff, Lacey will more than likely face former San Francisco DA George Gascon. He’s in second place with nearly 28% of the vote.

Former public defender Rachel Rossi is in third with nearly 23%.

Lacey’s share of the vote has slowly slipped in nearly each update since election night on March 3.

There are some 219,000 votes still left to count, so Lacey still has a mathematical chance of winning an outright majority.

Here are the numbers as of Friday:

Candidate Votes %
Jackie Lacey 799,898 49.25%
George Gascon 454,417 27.98%
Rachel Rossi 369,932 22.78%

GO DEEPER:

In-Person Census Canvassing By Advocacy Groups Put On Hold Due to Coronavirus

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Community groups working in L.A. County to promote census participation in historically undercounted areas are pausing their in-person canvassing efforts. The decision was made to prevent possible spread of the coronavirus.

Now, groups plan to shift messaging online and over the phone, with census-related social media ads and phone banking.

Alejandra Zarate of We Count LA, told us:

“We are having to adjust our entire campaign. While the census is important, everybody’s health and safety is the utmost priority.”

In-person canvassing is often the only way information about the census reaches communities who don't speak English or don't have internet access. (Courtesy of U.S. Census Bureau)

The new protocol will stay in place until after April 1st, the official Census Day.

Zarate manages a county-wide network of community-based organizations that have mobilized over the past few months to reach Census Bureau-designated “hard-to-count” communities.

She said some community groups are working with the Census Bureau to see if national operations — like in-person enumeration — could be extended.

“It’s up to the Census Bureau. They would essentially need to do the time crunch, the data calculations on a shorter timeline. ” Zarate said. “It would be up to Congress to give them additional funding.”

Zarate said she’s conflicted about changing the census process, because extending the count could mean less political representation in the meantime. For now, she’s working to encourage census participation online and trying to stay positive.

“The more we stay connected with each other in untraditional ways," she said, "the more we will tap into that sense of comradery—that we will be counted.”

Have questions about the 2020 census? Ask us here.

Pepperdine University Sends Students Home, Moves Classes Online

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Pepperdine University is located in Malibu, California. Pepperdine University

Pepperdine Junior Abby Lapine just hugged her friend and saw her get into a ride share this afternoon. “It's just been very chaotic the past few days,” she told KPCC/LAist.

All around campus, students were figuring out how to get home or whether they were going to apply to stay on the Malibu, CA campus. Pepperdine is granting several hundred exemptions.

Junior Kimberly Yeung lives in the dorms as an advisor. She said that some of her students have nowhere else to go.

“Some of my residents would be homeless... their parents have moved since they've come to college.”


Meantime, senior Nikolai Arrasmith came to terms with the unlikely end of his life at college: Online classes and hasty goodbyes. “A lot of other students get to come back next year, but this is the end of the road for us.”

Your No-Panic Guide To Coronavirus In L.A.

Have A Question? We Will Answer It

Here's A Quick, To The Point Coronavirus Prep List

Drills and Tents: Local Hospitals Prep For A Surge In Covid-19 Patients

The Rush Is On. Why Some Health Workers Feel Unsafe

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Protective N-95 face masks lie on a table at an office in Washington, D.C. in this photo illustration. Eva Hambach/AFP via Getty Images

Hospital workers in Southern California are on the frontlines of the coronavirus pandemic. And some of them, frankly, say they don't feel prepared.

“Right now, there’s a lack of supplies — specifically protective equipment, PPE’s — so we’re not feeling too safe because we still have to go home to our families...We should be the most informed and educated, since we're in the frontlines with these patients."

That's what one healthcare worker Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, told us.

We talked to others at area hospitals who shared concerns about safety. worker turnover and concerns about the heathcare system being overwhelmed.

READ OUR FULL REPORT:

MORE ON CORONAVIRUS:

'Health Comes First': What Parents Are Saying About LAUSD's Classroom Shutdown

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Alec Kampe holds his 4-month-old daughter after dropping off his 3-year-old at Vanalden Early Childhood Center in Reseda. (Mariana Dale/LAist)

Here's the general reaction from parents to the news that the Los Angeles Unified School District will suspend in-person classes for two weeks:

We get it.

"I feel like it's something that actually probably needs to be done until this virus is contained," parent Alec Kampe said after dropping off his 3-year-old daughter at Vanalden Early Childhood Center in Reseda. "It's going to be a bit of an inconvenience because, you know, some of us have to work, but at the same time health comes first."

Several parents interviewed by LAist had a similar response. While many were left wondering how they would juggle work and child care for a couple of weeks, most said it was worth the inconvenience to keep their kids safe and healthy.

Kampe said he and his wife will be looking for a babysitter to care their daughters until classrooms reopen.

Another Vanalden parent, Shiva Motaghe, says she'll be able to stay home with her son. She's concerned by the situation in her native country, Iran, where COVID-19 is spreading rapidly and more than 400 people have died.

"I'm very happy they closed all the schools because it's very dangerous," she said. "We must be serious about that virus."

Other working parents aren’t sure yet who will watch their kids.

“I would struggle right now,” said Nancy Witz, who works at a pet hotel that remains open.

Over at Eagle Rock High School, parents were less concerned about child care — many of their teenagers can keep themselves occupied. Of greater concern, they said, is the potential interruption of studies, even though LAUSD says learning will continue with remote teaching.

Lladira Ballesteros said she's been stocking up on gloves, soap, toilet paper and canned food. She planned to have a more direct conversation with her kids when they get home from school Friday.

"I don't want to get them scared," she said. "I'm scared too."

Juan Corral said he's making sure son, who attends Eagle Rock High School, is "asking the teachers to give them extra work, so they don't fall behind," especially if the suspension lasts more than two weeks.

"It could be more than that, so we want all the teachers, everybody, even the parents, to think about [what] that's going to look like if it goes beyond two weeks," he said.

Still, he thinks LAUSD did the right thing.

"I'd rather err on the side of caution than actually be saying that we didn't do enough."

MORE ON CORONAVIRUS:

8 New Coronavirus Cases In LA County, Total Now 40

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Eight new cases of coronavirus have been identified in Los Angeles County, bringing the countywide total including Long Beach and Pasadena to 40.

One patient had traveled recently to South Korea, three are likely cases of community transmission -- meaning the source of their infection is unknown -- and four cases are still under investigation. Two of the patients are hospitalized.

The new information was shared by L.A. County Public Health Director Dr. Barbara Ferrer in her daily update on COVID-19.

Here are some of the other key takeaways:

  • There are now a total of six likely cases of community transmission in the county.
  • The current protocol calls for testing people for COVID-19 only if they are seriously ill. Of the roughly 110 tests the county has run at its lab, about 25% have come back positive. Only about 4% of the roughly 120 tests run at commercial labs have been positive, and about 11% of the 27 tests run by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have come back positive.
  • On Monday the county plans to issue information on the ages and geographic locations of the coronavirus patients.
  • The county’s Office of Emergency Management is still working on finding facilities that can house two types of people who have COVID-19: travelers who have no place to stay, and the homeless. For a location to be adequate, people will need to have their own room and private access to a bathroom.

GO DEEPER:

Your No-Panic Guide To Coronavirus In L.A.

Have A Question? We Will Answer It

Here's A Quick, To The Point Coronavirus Prep List

LAUSD Cancels In-Person Classes For 2 Weeks, Sending Half A Million Kids Home

President Trump Declares National Emergency In Response To Coronavirus

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Surrounded by members of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, President Trump speaks at a press conference on COVID-19. (Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images)

President Trump declared a national emergency in response to the coronavirus epidemic at an afternoon news conference. The decision opens up $50 billion in funding to fight the disease, according to the president. He also announced steps toward increased testing with millions of tests available within a month, including drive-thru testing in the parking lots of major retailers. But Trump emphasized that officials don't want people to take the test unless they're exhibiting symptons.

Trump encouraged states to set up emergency operations centers, effectively immediately. He said that he is giving emergency authority to the Health and Human Services secretary to waive federal regulations, giving doctors and hospitals increased flexibility in treating patients. A new coronavirus screening website designed by Google was also announced as being in development, with more details available Sunday, Vice President Mike Pence said.

Trump announced an executive order to waive interest on all federal student loans, as well as an order to purchase crude oil for the nation's strategic reserve.

Negotiations continue with Congress over potential legislation to address coronavirus. This follows his oval office address Wednesday night that included European travel restrictions, steps to mitigate economic disruption, and a request to Congress for payroll tax relief.

9 Coronavirus Cases In Orange County

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Nine people in Orange County have tested positive for coronavirus, but there is no evidence of widespread infection, county supervisors and health officials said today.

Six of those patients were tested positive by the county, with the results confirmed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The county got positive test results in the other three cases but is still awaiting confirmation from the CDC.

One of the patients has since recovered and that case is no longer considered active.

Some other takeaways:

  • The Orange County superintendent has suggested that all public schools close. The decision is being made at the district level. Some have already done so, and many school boards are holding emergency meetings on whether and when to follow suit.
  • The county has 1,124 test kits on hand. This doesn't include private sector doctors and hospitals or commercial labs such as Quest or LabCorp, which have their own tests.
  • The county will begin providing daily updates on the number of active cases, tests run, and other details. The updates will be posted to its website every day at 5 p.m.
  • The OC Sheriff’s Department originally asked people to avoid making non-essential visits to jail detainees. However, late Friday it suspended all jail visits except by attorneys.

STAY UP TO DATE:

UPDATE 5:10 p.m.: This story has been updated to reflect the change in policy on jail visits.

This story was originally published at 1:42 p.m.

CORRECTION: The original version of this story incorrectly stated that there are nine active coronavirus cases in Orange County. One of the cases is no longer considered active because the patient has fully recovered. We regret the error.

LAUSD Cancels In-Person Classes For 2 Weeks, Sending Half A Million Kids Home

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(Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images)

The Los Angeles Unified School District has announced plans to cancel in-person instruction starting Monday as the coronavirus spreads worldwide. For the next two weeks, all 472,000 students will continue their coursework online.

In an email to LAUSD staff, Superintendent Austin Beutner said the two week closure will give district leaders a chance to "evaluate the appropriate path forward."

Technically, the order to close only covers LAUSD’s district-run schools. But many charter schools within LAUSD’s boundaries — which serve an additional 115,000 children — are likely to take cues from the district and may close as well.

The decision is another high-profile example of how mounting concern about COVID-19 is affecting daily life in Los Angeles. LAUSD is not only the largest K-12 district in the U.S. to shut down so far, but also one of the largest employers in the region to suspend normal operations.

"We’re in uncharted waters as we work to prevent the spread of the illness," Beutner said.

Beutner has promised the district’s 70,000 employees will continue to receive paychecks even if they are unable to provide direct services to students.

In a Friday morning press conference, Beutner said there are still no known links between any virus cases and LAUSD schools.

L.A. Unified announced its plans to close in a joint statement with California's second-largest district, San Diego Unified, where schools will close until April 6.

Beutner said the joint announcement was meant to send a "signal" to state leaders. So far, state and local public health officials have said schools don't need to close unless there is a confirmed case of COVID-19 among the students or staff.

"This is something the state needs to be with us," Beutner said, "as we pursue not only this chapter but what comes from here."

GO DEEPER:

All LAUSD Schools Are Closing Monday. Here's What We Know So Far


HOW WE'RE REPORTING ON THIS

Reporter Carla Javier is at L.A. Unified headquarters covering the board meetings and press conferences. K-12 reporter Kyle Stokes is the lead writer on this story and will be gathering reaction throughout the day. Reporter Mariana Dale is on her way to Beachy Ave. Elementary School in Arleta to speak to parents and staff. Digital producer Ryan Fonseca is keeping this story updated.

MORE ON CORONAVIRUS:

Long Beach Unified Closes Schools For More Than A Month, Starting This Monday

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Long Beach Unified, which serves more than 70,000 students and is the third largest school district in the state, announced this morning that its campuses will be closed starting Monday. The closure is currently scheduled to last until April 20.
The decision came as a growing number of school districts began shuttinh down their campuses, most notably L.A. Unified, which is the nation's second largest school district. LAUSD officials said today it will close schools for two weeks, starting Monday, which affects some 500,000 students.
After careful deliberation, the Long Beach Unified School District has decided to close schools beginning Monday, March 16. School will resume Monday, April 20. The closure is an extra measure of protection to help prevent the spread of the new coronavirus, or COVID-19.
We do not have any presumptive or confirmed cases of the new coronavirus in our schools, but we are taking this step to help protect public health. This closure includes our Friday, April 10 Admission Day holiday and our spring recess from April 13 to 17. Schools are an essential service and crucial to our communities.
We are facing an unprecedented health crisis in our community, and new information is surfacing rapidly. It is likely our community will be seeing many more cases of COVID-19 in the coming weeks and months and this will require a measured, sustained response.
We are exploring with our local, regional and state partners what we can do to support our students and families during this difficult time. We will be setting up ways to continue the learning process, and to provide meals for our students who rely on them. We are considering what, if any, childcare options we can extend to families during this unplanned closure.

MORE FROM THE LONG BEACH POST:

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LA County Is Recruiting Latino Foster Parents

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Adoptive parent Carla Baeza at the Juntos con los Ninos launch. (Courtesy of DCFS)

More than half of Los Angeles County's 19,000 foster kids are Latino, but the number of Latino foster parents is under 2,000. This week an effort was launched to help close that gap.

(Courtesy of DCFS)

The Department of Children and Family Services kicked off the "Juntos con los Niños" (or "Together with the Children") recruitment campaign.

When kids can connect to their foster parent on a cultural level, it changes their experience in foster care, Ginger Pryor with DCFS said:

"The research shows us that when they have the opportunity to be connected to individuals that love and care for them, especially those that are going to make sure that they have access to their culture, to their language, those are the things that are important from a brain development perspective, reducing trauma."

Pryor said there's an even greater need for Spanish-speaking foster parents.

LEARN MORE:

Riverside's New 'Cabin Village' Offers Temporary Housing For The Homeless

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A shelter produced by Pallet Shelters, the same size as the ones being used in Riverside. Courtesy Pallet Shelters

The City of Riverside has unveiled an alternative shelter solution to help house homeless residents: dozens of small cabins.

Each of the units in the Cabin Village has a bed, storage space, electrical outlets, air conditioning, and a common space. The cabins were built for both families and individuals.

For some people, large shelters aren't a good option, but the cabins could be, according to Hafsa Kaka, Riverside's homeless solutions officer:

"Folks who may be experiencing trauma from bigger environments, sometimes folks get really overwhelmed, this is kind of a more intimate environment so that you kind of get that one-on-one attention as needed."

The village will have on-site supportive services, including help to find permanent housing.

GO DEEPER:

Coronavirus Has Some Restaurant Workers Afraid For Their Health and Livelihoods

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A fast food worker cleans up in San Gabriel. (Josie Huang/LAist)

As coronavirus rapidly spreads around the U.S., some office workers are spending their days at home behind a laptop. But that’s not possible for restaurant workers like Miguel Bautista who's employed at a fast food joint in San Gabriel. For the last week or so, he’s been washing his hands at least twice an hour, and wearing gloves at the register.

It can get awkward.

"I had one man say something about his money (not being) good. And I was like, 'No, I'm sorry, sir, just I'm germophobic," Bautista said.

Bautista can’t afford to get sick. Officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend self-quarantines of 14 days. But Bautista has just six days of paid sick leave.

And he’s better off than most. Federal law doesn't mandate sick leave. California law requires qualifying workers get a minimum of three days. Workers in the city of L.A. have at least six. But enforcement is poor, and these low-wage workers often end up forgoing the time off they're owed, said Alexandra Suh, executive director of the Koreatown Immigrant Workers Alliance.

"Even before this crisis, many of them risk losing their jobs if they even asked for their paid sick days," Suh said.

Suh said as coronavirus circulates, employers should waive doctor’s notes and pay their sick workers.

"Missing a paycheck can mean not putting food on the table that day. It could mean not paying rent that week," Suh said.

Confronted with those choices, she said, people often feel like they have to work through their illness - a practice that health officials say is especially worrisome right now.

Take illness out of the equation, and restaurant workers still have to worry about their livelihoods.

Across L.A. and in areas affected by coronavirus, some diners are avoiding restaurants, leading owners to cut hours for their workers, or even close.

Suh is among the chorus of voices around the country calling for a halt to evictions during the health crisis for workers who lose income. In Los Angeles, city councilmember Mike Bonin announced on Twitter he is working with colleagues on a moratorium on evictions.

Suh said she hopes the moratorium will apply to people who lose their hours or jobs because of the impact of coronavirus, not just people who come down with COVID-19.

LA City Hall Corruption Investigation: A Timeline

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An FBI agent carries a case from the home of Los Angeles Councilman Jose Huizar in Los Angeles on November 7, 2018. (FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images)

On Monday, former City Councilman Mitch Englander pleaded not guilty to seven counts of obstruction of justice. He faces a maximum of 50 years in federal prison for allegedly trying to cover up an extravagant Las Vegas trip and other gifts from an unnamed businessman.

These Englander charges stem from a larger investigation into corruption and “pay-to-play” schemes at L.A. City Hall. It appears to include the November 2018 FBI raid of Councilman Jose Huizar’s home and office and a federal search warrant unearthed last year focusing on downtown developers and city officials.

The full scope of the FBI investigation into City Hall is still a mystery, and our understanding of it relies on piecemeal documents and the snippets of information investigators have released so far.

To help keep track of what we know, we’ve put together this timeline that combines important dates and milestones.

EXPLORE THE TIMELINE:

Handwashing Stations Being Placed At Homeless Encampments

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People walk in Skid Row on September 28, 2019 in Los Angeles. Mario Tama/Gett Images

More than 100 handwashing stations are being deployed around Los Angeles as a stopgap to boost sanitary conditions at homeless camps.

It's one of the responses authorities are scrambling to put in place to minimize the effect of COVID-19 on the region’s sizable homeless population.

"We’re all being told to keep washing our hands with soap and water. But people who don’t have a bathroom can’t do that," said Councilmember Mike Bonin, who represents Los Angeles’ westside.

“I was frustrated Monday morning when I woke up and I saw that there were handwashing stations rolling out on the streets of San Francisco and San Diego and San Jose.”

But not Los Angeles.

So Bonin used his office budget to start installing more than 40 handwash stations in his district. More council members have since followed.

Likewise, LA County officials have said they’re figuring out how to isolate any potentially sick people who don’t have their own space.

As for Aymen Ahmed, who’s homeless in Echo Park, the virus is low on his list of immediate concerns.

“I’m worried about the virus if you cramp me in a space with people’s sanitary conditions I don’t know about," he said. "I’m not worried about the virus when I’m outside."

For now, Ahmed is more concerned about the rain.

Morning Briefing: LAUSD, Flash Floods, City Hall Corruption And Escalating Coronavirus Closures

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(Chava Sanchez / LAist)

We are closely watching an emergency session of L.A. Unified's board this morning as the nation's second largest school district weighs closing down in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

The meeting comes after a day when rain pummeled the city and coronavirus closures and updates kept on coming. Governor Gavin Newsom banned gatherings of over 250 people, Disneyland closed down for only the fourth time in its history and the Grand Prix and Pac-12 Conference were both cancelled, among many other events.

At least you can get cozy under a blanket while you’re quarantined at home. And in the meantime, here’s what else we’re...

Covering Today:

  • Libby Denkmann takes a deep dive into the timeline of events that landed Mitch Englander in FBI custody earlier this week.
  • We will bring you the story of the photography, films, and writing of an L.A. homeless man who has traveled the world and calls himself Bumdog.
  • Sharon McNary will be keeping an eye on all this rain, which is forecast to be around for days.
  • This weekend’s events include a Passover concert, film noir at the Ace Hotel and Burger Record’s music fest at The Echo. Call in advance to make sure these events are still taking place.

CORONAVIRUS SPECIAL SECTION

What We Know:

What We're Following:

  • We are out in force to cover LAUSD's next moves. Carla Javier is at LAUSD emergency meeting underway this morning. Kyle Stokes, our expert on all things K-12 is working the phones and Mariana Dale, our early childhood education reporter, is standing by to report on anad explain the effects on transitional kindergarten and childcare.
  • San Diego, San Francisco and San Jose have created plans to help homeless people who have the coronavirus. But what about L.A.? Turns out, reports Matt Tinoco, we're still working things out.
  • How can parents keep their kids occupied if schools close? Mariana gathered some charming and fun recommendations on possible in-home activities.
  • Robert Garrova brings us the latest news from Dr. Barbara Ferrer.
  • David Wagner explores if workers will still get paid if they get coronavirus, or lose work because of it.
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The news cycle moves fast. Some stories don't pan out. Others get added. Consider this today's first draft.