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Concern over quarantines continue as numbers dwindle
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RANDOLPH COUNTY — A reversal of Randolph County’s mask policy has some in the district asking questions of whether an increase in the number of unmasked students will result in additional persons sent home from school.

Parents have expressed their concern at recent school board meetings that the intended relief that would come as a result of making masks optional could be undermined by removal of students from classrooms due to COVID-19. Data from the RCS COVID-19 dashboard indicates that the frequency with which individuals have been asked to quarantine has seen a steady decline since face coverings were required in September.

According to the dashboard, the number of those excluded from school activities reached an all-time low the week of Oct. 30-Nov. 5. Just six people were asked not to return to school due to exposure to a positive case at school that week.

On the most recent update of the dashboard at press time, 24 had to quarantine the week of Nov. 6-12. A total of 27 positive cases were reported at RCS each of those two weeks, the lowest counts since the system began tracking this data at the start of the school year.

Across the entire county, a total of 166 new COVID-19 cases were reported by Randolph County Public Health from Nov. 13-19. That equates to roughly 17.4% of the weekly count three months ago, when weekly case numbers approached 1,000.

As of Nov. 19, the county had seen the number of those who have died from COVID-19 rise to 327 since April 2020. The state’s cumulative number of COVID-19 cases had reached 1.52 million residents as of Nov. 19, according to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services.

Statewide, the NCDHHS reported that 1,052 people were hospitalized as of Nov. 19, a significant decrease from three months ago when more than 3,600 people were hospitalized. Of the 1.52 million total cases in North Carolina, 18,617 individuals had died. Official statewide data on the COVID-19 pandemic is available at https://www.ncdh hs.gov/covid-19-case-count-nc.

In Randolph County, a positivity rate of 5.8% compares to the 5.0% statewide.

The number of vaccinated Randolph residents continues to lag behind the general population, as 51% of the entire Randolph County population has been at least partially vaccinated. Of those, 48% have been fully vaccinated. In North Carolina, 53.8% are fully vaccinated, and in the U.S., that number stands at 59.1%.

Staff writer Daniel Kennedy can be reached at 336-888-3578, or at dkennedy@atnonline.net.

Archdale celebrates 50 years of its parade
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ARCHDALE — An annual holiday tradition returns to Archdale next week when the Christmas parade will make its way down the streets from O’Reilly Auto Parts on North Main Street to Archdale Elementary.

The parade, sponsored by Bethany Medical, will begin at 3 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 5. Celebrating its 50th anniversary, the parade will feature three special grand marshals. In 1971, Sherman Staton, along with Larry Boyles and Ron Hoover, founded the Archdale Christmas Parade.

All three of those men, who served as members of the Archdale-Trinity Jaycee Club, will headline the slate of participants.

“[Staton’s] daughter, Sherry Staton, told me about a month ago that this is the 50th year of the parade,” said J.D. Peace, president of the SerCo Club of Archdale-Trinity. “When she told me that, I thought, ‘Well, goodness, we’ve got to do something special.’ These three gentlemen who started the parade are going to be the grand marshals for this year’s parade.”

Before there were marching bands and dance clubs, as will be featured in this year’s event, there were homemade floats and a group of fervent volunteers who made what is now an annual parade possible. Sherman Staton said he remembers the events that led up to the inaugural gathering and the immediate inquiries that began rolling in.

“It was in October [1971], I think, when I started talking about it,” Staton said. “We had about 30 or 40 members. Most of us seemed to think it was too late in the year to organize it for that same year. Me and the two guys kept on with it, and we were the ones who got an article in the paper that we were wanting to have it. We asked for some floats, horses and whoever wanted to be in the parade. We didn’t know how to do it, so we just said whoever wants to be in there can be in there.”

Within a week, Staton said the club had a lot of responses from residents who were interested in being in that first parade. The event’s founder said he just felt like Archdale deserved the attention that a parade would bring.

In 2021, Peace said that tradition will carry on with a bagpipe player at the front of the parade, floats, dance clubs, music groups, car clubs, horses and a few grand exhibitions from local organizations. He said Spookywoods will showcase an element of its new Christmas attraction and 50th anniversary parade T-shirts will be distributed as long as supplies last.

As is customarily the case, an appearance from Santa Claus will conclude the parade. The presenting sponsor, Bethany Medical, is holding a grand opening immediately following the procession.

Staff writer Daniel Kennedy can be reached at 336-888-3578, or at dkennedy@atnonline.net.

Jan. 6 plea deal offered to Trinity man
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Federal prosecutors and the lawyer for a Trinity man facing charges in the Jan. 6 storming of the U.S. Capitol hope to have a plea deal in place by the anniversary of the riot, according to a court document.

A federal judge agreed this week to postpone a hearing for Bradley Stuart Bennett of Trinity and Elizabeth Rose Williams of Texas, who was identified at the time of her arrest as Bennett’s girlfriend, until Jan. 6, 2022, at the request of both prosecutors and the attorneys for the two. Both have been offered plea deals, the court filing said.

“The United States and Ms. Williams have finalized their discussions and are in the process of formalizing their agreement in writing and exchanging the formal paperwork,” but Bennett’s attorney wants more time to review the plea terms with Bennett, the filing said.

Bennett’s attorney is Al Watkins of St. Louis, who also represents Jacob Chansley, better known as the “QAnon Shaman” seen in numerous photos and videos parading through the Capitol in a horned fur hat with his face painted. Chansley pleaded guilty in September to a felony count of obstructing an official proceeding.