With COVID-19 case numbers on the rise, and growing concern about the safety of group gatherings, the Highlands Chamber of Commerce made the decision to cancel the annual Christmas parade, originally scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 5.
According to Chamber Executive Director Kaye McHan the board of directors called for the parade’s cancellation following North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper’s most recent executive order, which called for increased mask usage and decreased the number of people allowed at public gatherings.
“Due to the cases rising rapidly in North Carolina the state has tightened existing mask requirements and enforcement, and as of Monday, 10 more counties were designated as red for critical community spread,” McHan said in a written statement. “The Chamber board made this difficult decision in support of community health and well-being. Event plans are already underway for 2021 in hopes that we can once again bring the community together to celebrate.”
The Chamber had previously planned to go forward with the parade, albeit with a major format change. The 2020 event was going to be a drive-thru parade where visitors stayed in their vehicles and drove along Main Street to see stationary floats and displays set in the middle parking area along the street.
The route was going to continue through Kelsey-Hutchinson Founders Park, where Santa Claus would be stationed to greet children near the town Christmas tree. The tree lighting ceremony was held virtually, via Facebook Live, on Saturday, Nov. 28.
Macon County Schools confirmed a positive case of COVID-19 at Highlands School on Monday afternoon. The confirmed case is the second in as many weeks and brings the total number of cases at the school to five since the academic year began in August.
Along with the additional confirmed case at Highlands, two cases were confirmed Monday at Franklin High School. MCS officials and the Macon County Public Health department are working to complete contact tracing and notify any potential close contacts.
According to numbers provided by MCS, the school district has had 65 confirmed cases among students and staff members during the current school year.
By the numbers
As of Tuesday, there were 66 confirmed active COVID-19 cases in Macon County. There have been a total of 942 confirmed cases since the pandemic began, with 867 of those patients being classified as recovered and nine patient deaths.
There have been 11,029 COVID-19 tests administered in Macon County and 108 of those are pending results.
Statewide there have been 364,512 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 5,261 deaths. Across the United States there have been 13,386,255 confirmed cases and 266,887 deaths recorded.