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Coronavirus in Pennsylvania

Are Masks Really Mandatory in Pennsylvania? Probably Maybe

mask order pennsylvania or just recommended

*BREAKING* – Wolf Now Requires Masks in ALL Public Places

Pennsylvanians remain confused on the alleged universal mask order that took effect on April 20.

The big questions: Is it really an order? Or just a recommendation? Are masks required? Or are you urged to wear one?

What should be a simple yes-or-no question is apparently anything but. If you want an answer, you have to put up with either confusing messages or lectures from Governor Tom Wolf or Health Secretary Rachel Levine.

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Are Pennsylvanians Required to Wear Face Masks in Public?
Don’t Ask the Governor.

You can find evidence of the order being in place but also evidence to the contrary.

For one example, check out the top of this page on the Pennsylvania Dept. of Health website under the “Stop the Spread” button:

encouraged to wear a mask

That message is there right now. It’s very clear.

A statement with the order is buried under a sea of other press releases.

Last week, State Rep. Russ Diamond created quite the chaos when he proudly announced on Facebook that he’d just completed an unmasked shopping trip. He says he wore a mask to one specific business but that’s it.

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Here’s the post that drove people insane last week:

Those who suddenly feel it’s their duty to enforce masking and then publicly shame those who don’t wear a mask lost their minds.

But in the days before Diamond shared this message, there was plenty of confusion on whether the mask order was an order.

And the Governor and Health Secretary’s language since the supposed mandate took effect hasn’t helped.

Businesses Think It’s a Mandate

Remember, thousands of stores and businesses allowed to stay open throughout the state’s pandemic response believe the order is an order. Things have gotten ugly when people try to enter stores without a mask.

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Check out this video of a customer being harassed at a Giant Eagle grocery store in western Pennsylvania. He’s herded out of the store by several employees, a security guard, and a heavyset guy who felt compelled to self-deputize himself and enforce the alleged rule for the store:

Give Us a Straight Answer on Masks … Someone. Anyone!

Well, after seeing plenty of confused messages on social media on whether the order that went into effect on April 20 is still in place or was quietly walked back, The Canary went straight to the sources.

Last week, we submitted questions for PA Health Secretary Rachel Levine. Here’s our question:

  • “Is the April 20 mandate to wear masks still in effect? Or has the DOH and Governor’s office reversed its decision to mandate masks to a recommendation? Must businesses still require customers to wear masks while shopping?”

We hoped for a very straightforward response. And we really wanted to hear from State Health Sect. Rachel Levine. Instead, we got Deputy Press Secretary Maggi Mumma.

And what we got was a somewhat straightforward response from Mumma. But then it got followed by what can only be described as a sanctimonious lecture. Mumma’s response went like this:

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  • “Masking is required if going into a retail location, as discussed in the guidance,” she said. But here comes the holier-than-thou part that made us wonder, why not just stop while you’re ahead. What Mumma says next makes us wonder if the first part is true or if we’re supposed to believe it’s true because of this next part. She added this unsolicited rant: “Pennsylvanians are expected to, and are doing the right thing, and we do not intend to fine or otherwise penalize an individual if they are not wearing a mask, but all are expected to wear a mask if they will be out in public and could interact with any individuals while out. This would include walking a dog if it is in an area where other people may be.”

Doing the right thing? That’s subjective. And that’s definitely not an order. What “the right thing” is to one person isn’t “the right thing” to another.

And then, after saying it’s “required”, Mumma changed the language in the second part of the statement from the Health Dept. “Pennsylvanians are expected to wear a mask …” again sounds like double-talk. Is it an order or are we “expected” to wear one? Just give us a straight answer!

We fired back another question after saying the answer we got was rather wishy-washy. We asked:

  • “Can you answer as a yes-or-no … was the mask mandate amended or reversed?”

The Canary was pointed in the direction of two hard-to-find pages that weren’t as easy to find as the one we highlighted above.  One is this FAQ documents on the masking order: Public Health Safety Measures for Businesses_FAQ2

That document makes if fairly clear for businesses and how they’re required to have employees masked. But good luck finding it.

After our peppering of Mumma got to be too much, some “Nate” person at the DOH press office pointed us to that document.

“Nate” said:

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  • “It is in the original order, which has not changed in regard to Worker Safety.
    “As noted in the original order, and in our FAQs, with the exception of businesses that provide medication, medical supplies, or food, which must offer another means for the customer to purchase goods if the customer is unable to wear a mask. Those means could include home delivery or contactless curbside pick-up. However, individuals who cannot wear a mask due to a medical condition (including children under the age of 2 years per CDC guidance) may enter the premises and are not required to provide documentation of such medical condition.
    “If the customer is refused service, and if the business is not able to provide a mask, the business should consider providing information on mask making, distributing “how to” flyers, or sharing locations where a mask can be purchased. Additionally, businesses should advise the customer of the Secretary’s Order; tell the customer that only those who cannot wear a mask due to a medical conditions may enter the premises without a mask; and advise the customer that almost any face covering would be acceptable.
    “If someone is to use alternative pickup, and the groceries, for example are loaded into the car and the person never has contact with the person loading the groceries, then a mask would not be required. However, for anyone going through a drive through or any situation in which they would be interacting with another person, a mask is still required. If items were delivered to the home and the individual did not need to sign or otherwise interact with the delivery personnel, a mask would not be necessary either.
    “The mandate was not amended or reversed.”

Basically, it took two press agents and a combined 400 words to answer a simple yes-or-no question.

PennLive Questions Governor Wolf

In case you’re thinking we’re just looking to cause trouble, we weren’t alone in our confusion. As you’ll see below, the Govenor and the Health Dept. have a hard time saying wearing a mask is an order. They let the tough statements up to the press agents.

On Monday, asked Wolf a question about the mask mandate after the governor read us the Riot Act of 2020.

PennLive’s question read as follows, verbatim:

  • “Despite remarks that masks must be worn in red zone counties, social media cards issued by the Governor’s office and the Dept. of Health website are saying that masks are encouraged not mandatory. Which exactly is this and what do you say to Pennsylvanians confused by the conflicting statements?”

Again, just below in our timeline on the mask messaging, you’ll see what The Canary, PennLive, and many others are noticing. So kudos to them for asking a straightforward question looking for a straightforward answer.

What they got was some confusing word salad from Wolf. And he definitely doesn’t answer the question. But he definitely gives another sanctimonious lecture.

Wolf said:

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  • “I’m not a lawyer. So I don’t know what the issue is here. Uh, if you want to stay safe, you ought to wear a mask. Pure and simple. Again, you can take that as something maybe uh has force of law but the real force is that virus that’s out there lurking, waiting for opportunity to move from one person to another. To the extent that you want to keep that from happening, wear a mask.”

What a load of crap! Perhaps he was just in the threatening mood yesterday.

“If you want to stay safe … ?” What does that mean?

“You ought to wear a mask.” OK, nana.

“Pure and simple.” Sorry, Governor, this response is anything but pure and simple. And it only got worse from there.

“Again, you can take that as something maybe uh has force of law but the real force is that virus that’s out there lurking, waiting for opportunity to move from one person to another. To the extent that you want to keep that from happening, wear a mask,” is what he said.

That’s not an order, more likely wishful thinking. As in wishful we’ll just follow along and not question confusing messages.

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Governor Wolf Mixed Messaging on Mask Order – Timeline

So, as for that confusing messaging, we put together a timeline of social media posts from Wolf and the DOH that only seem to cause confusion on whether masks are mandatory.

On April 15, Governor Tom Wolf issued his clearest message on universal masking in Pennsylvania. In a press release, masking requirements are outlined relatively clearly for employees and customers at businesses allowed to stay open under his orders.

The statement, specific to masks, says:

  • For employees: Provide masks for employees to wear during their time at the business, and make it a mandatory requirement while at the work site, except to the extent an employee is using break time to eat or drink, in accordance with the guidance from the Department of Health and the CDC. Employers may approve masks obtained or made by employees in accordance with this guidance.
  • For customers: Require all customers to wear masks while on premises, and deny entry to individuals not wearing masks, unless the business is providing medication, medical supplies, or food, in which case the business must provide alternative methods of pick-up or delivery of goods, except individuals who cannot wear a mask due to a medical condition (including children the age of 2 years) may enter the premises without having to provide medical documentation.

As far as clear language goes, it stops there on universal masking mandates.

And then, as time moved on, word started spreading that the rules had changed but the Wolf administration didn’t tell anyone. Evidence on the umpteen websites the Wolf administration created shows the order may have been downgraded to a simple recommendation. But it didn’t come without condescending lectures on how you’re somehow a better person because you started wearing a mask after being told for weeks it wasn’t necessary.

Is That Really an Order?

Ever since the mandatory mask order allegedly took effect, the Wolf Administration has avoided using any language indicating it’s an order.

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In fact, they make every effort to use language suggesting it’s a suggestion, not an order.

Check out this April 22 tweet from the Dept. of Health featuring Giselle Fetterman talking about her wearing a mask. In the tweet text, it specifically says, “You should wear a mask whenever you leave your house.”

An order would say something different, right? Such as: “You must wear a mask … ” But this tweet doesn’t say that at all:

That tweet was sent just 2 days after the so-called order was in effect in Pennsylvania.

Then, for 6 days after that, the Governor didn’t say a word about masks on social media.

In a tweet on April 28, Wolf shared one of many infographics, memes, GIFs and videos created to help their messaging efforts.

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But he fails to say this is an order. In fact, he says, “The @CDCgov began to recommend wearing cloth masks in public after studies showed people can transmit COVID-19 without showing symptoms. My mask protects you, your mask protects me. #MaskUpPA”

On April 30, Wolf sent out this cryptic tweet that doesn’t really say anything. He just follows some stale tweet form that uses emoji as bullet points. But instead of being clear, he remains vague on the masking order:

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In this May 1 tweet, Wolf makes mention of masking but doesn’t say anything about a mandate.

“Stick to masking”?

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On May 4, the Dept. of Health sent out this tweet (which Wolf retweeted) on masks. It just repeats the same line Levine uses every day since the so-called order was handed down on April 20:

Notice how it’s just a bite-size lecture on how masks allegedly protect others around you. Again, nothing about an order.

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The wishy-washy language only got wishy-washier after that.

Wolf tweeted this graphic on social media on May 7. Notice, it clearly says “encouraged” to wear masks, not ordered.

pennsylvanians encouraged to wear masks

A day later, he tweeted this infographic outlining the specific points of the three color phases of his reopening plan for Pennsylvania.

Wolf didn’t mince words with us on Monday when he called us “cowardly” “immoral” and “selfish” so why is it so difficult for them to say that wearing a mask is mandatory?

So, are masks required in Pennsylvania? Our best guess: Probably

But what if some random Pennsylvanian only saw one of these public, very visible messages from the Governor or DOH? What if they saw “encouraged” and didn’t think twice about whether the mandate was lifted?

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“Encouraged” is not required.

This is just one more example of mixed and confusing messages coming from Wolf and Levine during this entire pandemic response. It’s one of the many reasons why so many, like us here in Schuylkill County, decided to go their own way with reopening plans.

They just don’t trust the Governor or Levine anymore.


Are Face Masks Mandatory in Pennsylvania?


On July 1, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf said Health Secretary Rachel Levine signed an order making face masks mandatory in all public places in the state.

Masks are required in Pennsylvania when you’re:

  • “Outdoors and unable to consistently maintain a distance of 6 feet from individuals who are not members of their household.”
  • “In any indoor location where members of the public are generally permitted.”
  • “Waiting for, riding on, driving, or operating public transportation or paratransit or while in a taxi, private car service or ride-sharing vehicle.”
  • “Obtaining services from the healthcare sector in settings including, but not limited to a hospital, pharmacy, medical clinic, laboratory, physician, or dental office, veterinary clinic, or blood bank.”
  • “Engaged in work, whether at the workplace or performing work off-site, when interacting in-person with any member of the public, working in any space visited by members of the public, working in any space where food is prepared or packaged for sale or distribution to others, working in or walking through common areas, or in any room or enclosed area where other people, except for members of the person’s own household or residence, are present when unable to physically distance.”

READ MORE: Wolf Now Requires Masks in ALL Public Places

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  1. PTFloridians

    May 12, 2020 at 8:13 pm

    This whole basket of rotting potatoes is plainly seen now, as a filthy rotten shine-ola of a scam. The virus is real. Everything after that is nothing more than nonsense, misdirection, deceit and double talk. Our lives have been consumed by this BS with little or no clear answers on anything from Sargent Schultz-Wolff. It’s time to get over this crap…oh, by the way…they’d love to drag it out until November…I’m so thankful to our local reps to stand up to this Putz…i hope they stay the course and call him out for his Obama-like, Chicago-mob style threats…vote this steaming pile groupthink outta here, no more of these types of Governors/leaders…no more BS.

    • Gary Snyder

      May 15, 2020 at 8:37 am

      Wolf DOES NOT have the authority to mandate a mask, He knows that. If he did, the Socialist Puppet would do it, believe me. It’s up to you and it my keep you from getting the flu.

  2. Allan otto

    May 19, 2020 at 8:26 am

    So questions I have are the yellow phase. Is the mask order still in effect with yellow phase? How about green? At what point do we say hey there have been very few cases, statistically masking serves no purpose.

    Then is the order itself. In specifies “essential” businesses. In yellow phase, “non-essential” businesses are open. Does that mean they don’t have to follow order? Then what for other businesses.

    • admin

      May 19, 2020 at 9:11 am

      Before April 15, masking wasn’t even a thought, so …

      Let’s give you the Wolf answer though, complete with guilt trip: “I mean, if you want to protect your family and not kill them, you SHOULD wear a mask.”

      • Ms

        May 20, 2020 at 2:35 pm

        mast are glorified snot rags the general public does not handle them properly so they spread more germs than the protection they do people are constantly touching their snotty nose with their snotty masks and touching everything else so if they have the virus they’re spreading it and if they don’t have the virus there are potential to get it…I’m tired of my health and my family’s house being put at risk by incompetent mandatory mask-wearing.

  3. PTFloridians

    May 19, 2020 at 10:17 am

    Schwanstucker Wolf has demonstrated his inability to handle anything effectively. He is incapable and people should demand accountability and recall…”I’m not a lawyer…” is the universal copout…what an ass.

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  5. Central Pa.

    May 23, 2020 at 1:11 pm

    So far, in my area [central Pa.] most people are still wearing masks. Some people have it on but it’s down around their mouths. A few don’t wear one at all and I was one of those people yesterday at Walmart. I don’t feel that I should HAVE to wear a mask at work or out in public if I choose not to. By all means, if someone feels strongly about the “mandatory” mask rule, they should wear one. If they don’t feel safe, they should stay home. Either that or wear a hazmat suit with a hood and then go out. They could take the suit off at their door, hang it and the hood outside, disinfect it, go inside, strip, wash their clothes, take a shower\bath and go on with their lives. I have asthma and have trouble breathing with a mask on. I get hot flashes, get pissed off and my anxiety level goes through the roof. I start to have, what my guess is a panic attack and pull the mask off. I touch my face SO much more with a mask on than off. I’m hoping that the Gov is just suggesting to wear a mask because I’m done with it.

    • bud

      June 23, 2020 at 1:52 am

      Don’t wear a useless mask. Period. If someone decides to wear a mask, how does me wearing one protect that person???? If it’s pouring outside and I don a slicker, how does that protect someone who is/isn’t wearing one? The mask wearing public are the guilty who actually spread germs/bacteria around due to bacteria adhering to masks like dust to a cloth, touching constantly, etc. Masks are laden with pores, so wearer’s are not keeping their germs to themselves anymore than those who opt not to wear these dangerous useless muzzles! Masks must be changed out at the bare minimum – hourly, to minimize dust, toxins, and bacteria which they constantly attract.
      They are in fact very dangerous causing both hypoxia and hypercapnia in those that wear them constantly each day. We must stand up and say NO!
      to these ridiculous orders. A governor is not a medical doctor and has no authority to mandate
      such rules, orders, or laws. IT ISN’T HIS/HER PLACE. This has gone out of control! Temp. screening, masks, “social” distancing, what next?
      blood tests, dangerous/injurious/lethal vac. then bend over??? NO! ENOUGH OF COVERT 19!!
      One doesn’t put a rug over a car’s radiator, you don’t put material of any type over your mouth/nose. It isn’t our fault that lazy media watching fools who lack exercise, take dangerous cocktails of mind altering psychotropic drugs
      to “manage” their “depression/anxiety”, who choose to drink red bull, smoke weed [which burns hotter than cigarettes], who fuel themselves w/booze and beer, also eat pork, lobster,etc. [laden with parasites/bacteria] binge on dorito’s, ding dongs, chips, vape, then complain they have/had cancer, diabetes, and that covid is very bad, so now, we [healthy people], are ordered to wear masks to compensate for their negligence of building healthy strong immune systems [rather than poorly choosing to utterly destroy them] they’re no longer capable to fend off something no worse than a common cold. Years of abuse is what’s destroying people’s respiratory systems, lungs, and immunity. NOT Coronavirus – a common cold with a 0.01% chance of adverse reaction or death in any HEALTHY individual!

      • PTFloridians

        June 23, 2020 at 6:40 am

        There’s a lot in there Bud…and it’s all true. Most of us feel that way, on all points, but as i shop, i still see that the majority of folks are afraid to “go against the grain” and peel back the masks. If they see me (without one), a few minutes later i pass them and they’ve taken theirs off…the more folks that are fed up, the better…we can move along and live freely, as we used to. I’ve had it already, for quite awhile.

    • Trey Anderson

      July 15, 2020 at 12:09 am

      Governor can not make it mandatory for citizens, businesses are making their own rules, only State legislation can make it a law period. On top of that the damned boxes masks come in clearly state WILL NOT PROTECT YOU FROM COVID-19.DAH MAKE SENSE NOW, I am not responsible for others fears, no one is.Stop wearing them if you don’t want to, as stated above they will not protect you anyway, further more unless you have underlying conditions you most likely are not at risk. So for crying out loud breath, and stop being bullied it’s all BS.

  6. Jay Madison

    May 24, 2020 at 3:43 pm

    So answer the question when we go to the green phase is the mask still be required to be worn in businesses?

    • admin

      May 24, 2020 at 4:16 pm

      He uses that condescending language about “personal responsibility”. It’s your right to be irresponsible, too. And “responsibility” is a subjective term. You can’t get a straight answer out of any of them. By the time we’re all Green, the rules will change again.

  7. Central Pa.

    May 24, 2020 at 7:49 pm

    I’m not good on the computer but as far as I can tell I can’t post a picture on here? A guy took a picture of a plane flying over Wildwood NJ pulling a banner that reads “Governor Wolf Likes to color” … so true!!

  8. Pingback: Boscov's Plans Saturday Reopening at Fairlane Village Mall - Coal Region Canary

  9. PTFloridians

    May 30, 2020 at 8:41 am

    This is a little ditty from our friends at the WHO, about masks…it should clear everything up for everybody…or not…

  10. Tracy Kepple

    May 31, 2020 at 3:39 pm


    • PTFloridians

      May 31, 2020 at 5:56 pm

      Yep…been like that…and the 2 minute blurb from the WHO, above, confirms the same thing plus other things…now the masks are used to conceal identities during marches and thuggish behaviors…it was only a matter of time…

  11. Get your own page

    June 1, 2020 at 1:15 pm

    From reading this and other things, my take is that masks are still required to go into a business, with the exclusions noted above (a medical condition, and no other way to access goods from that essential business). Also, it sounds like the Gov and Sec’y would LOVE to mandate it outside, in every public space, and whenever you leave your house, but they’re not, they’re just suggesting (and shaming by implying you’re irresponsible or don’t care about others if you don’t). So I wear one just before stepping into a place that requires it, and rip it off as soon as I leave.

    • admin

      June 1, 2020 at 1:18 pm

      It seems that business owners are just trying to avoid trouble by requiring them to come into their stores. Hard to fault them. They have plenty more to worry about and it’s just “easier” to say, just wear a damn mask and come in and do your shopping. Definitely don’t fault business owners for just going with what they heard. We do have a problem when they allow their employees to go over the top in enforcing masks. That incident at the Giant Eagle in western PA is an example of letting it get out of hand.

      • PTFloridians

        June 1, 2020 at 1:56 pm

        Well said
        …gotta credit Boscovs for the approach without being the mask police…well done.
        …in Berks County at an ice cream/farmy/bakery place and folks strolled in and out however they saw fit, and no one squawked, looked strangely at, or said anything. Freedom to choose and mutual respect.

        • admin

          June 1, 2020 at 2:35 pm

          We were at a very packed Boscov’s in Pottsville over the weekend. If the plan was to tank the econonmy, it failed miserably. People were throwing money around like it was Double Christmas. The hand sanitizer station was a bit odd but no one said much (just a weird glance) when it was refused. The second you touch a piece of merch in the store, the “effectiveness” of hand sanitizer is out the window. But they did a great job of being very welcoming to their customers who all seemed excited to be able to go shopping again! Now we can’t wait until all the social distance markers and Plexiglas shields come down. And, of course, for the rest of the mall to open.

      • Joshua Hobbs

        June 6, 2020 at 5:40 pm

        This has changed. While the original mandate is still in place a lot of businesses like the Walmart in Shippensburg are working under the assumption it’s only recommended. Unfortunately most mandates for this pandemic are useless because there is a severe lack of enforcement. The actual answer to the mask rule is pretty straight forward, if entering a business they are required but strongly recommended everywhere you would come into contact with others. The problem comes down to, “we don’t to fine” or basically enforce our mandate at all.

        • admin

          June 6, 2020 at 6:47 pm

          So you feel the problem with this is the lack of enforcement? You support police running around ticketing people for not wearing a mask?

  12. William Steiner

    June 4, 2020 at 6:44 pm

    Un-mask Pennsylvania
    Use your mind
    The masks provide no protection

    • PTFloridians

      June 5, 2020 at 7:42 am

      Right on, Bill!
      …use your minds and unmask!
      …we’ve been hoodwinked, but good.

  13. Rod

    June 5, 2020 at 2:55 pm

    Ask the wrong question and you get a wishy washy answer. I government can not demand every american wear a mask. They do how ever have the right to require businesses to require every one in the location wear masks and enforce masks be worn. Remember the government is not protecting them from law suits they need to be able to show they acted in a way to protect everyone employees and customers.

  14. Pingback: Tom Wolf Goes Full Karen on Mask Policy - Coal Region Canary

  15. Josh

    June 25, 2020 at 5:10 pm

    I just got an E-mail from PAUC (a minor player in a small business in Bucks County) Stating that it is mandatory in businesses. Gov Wolf has Officially gone against the law. Considering Mastreano and other more moderate Players are taking him to court. He has NOT put it into LAW according to Mastreano and was using the emergency powers of the gov to enforce his opinion, while also LITERALLY not showing up to work for 3 months. Our senators have removed his Emergency Powers meaning that it is not enforceable.

    • admin

      June 25, 2020 at 7:00 pm

      Yeah, Wolf’s going really hard on the mask issue this week for some reason. Seems to be a nationwide trend, which is particularly odd. We’ve been documenting his double-speak on this issue since the beginning. Wolf and Levine are absurd. We can only hope the Supreme Court sees fit to end this disaster of a disaster and let it up to free-thinking Pennsylvanians to decide.

  16. Pingback: Pennsylvania Now Requires Masks in Public Places - Coal Region Canary

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  18. Amata

    November 5, 2020 at 3:04 pm

    when was neurosurgeon invented

  19. Anjanette

    November 12, 2020 at 7:49 am

    if an individual paid $12 for the contract and they currently are able to sell the same asset for $20, the correct calculation would be: $20-$12 = $8.

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