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Baby new year: Hospital announces first newborn of 2021

CHESTERTOWN — University of Maryland Shore Regional Health welcomed its first baby of 2021 in Chestertown on Saturday afternoon, Jan. 2, the hospital system announced Wednesday.

Au’Bree Aretter Dior Butler couldn’t wait to step into the world and made her entrance a few weeks earlier than expected at UM Shore Medical Center at Chestertown, SRH said in a news release.

Au’Bree was 18.5 inches long and weighed 5 pounds, 5 ounces at birth. Her parents are Brianna Wilmer and Tre’von Butler, both of Chestertown. Au’Bree is the couple’s first child.

The newborn was transported with her mother, Brianna Wilmer, to the Birthing Center at UM Shore Medical Center at Easton for care after she was born.

“Our skilled team members at UM Shore Medical Center at Chestertown, as well as our Kent County EMS providers, are trained for these unique scenarios,” said Sandy Prochaska, nurse manager, UM SMC at Chestertown Emergency Department. “Everything worked just as it should have with mom and baby being transported to Easton in a timely manner.”

Au’Bree and her family received a basket of gifts from UM Shore Regional Health, which included diapers, clothes, blankets, baby bath supplies and toiletries, bibs, pacifiers, books, stuffed animals and a baby thermometer. Au’Bree also received a $100 savings certificate from Shore United Bank.

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Citing student outbreak, Dorchester schools stick with virtual learning

CAMBRIDGE — Citing a virus outbreak among students and county’s dramatic increase in COVID-19 cases, Dorchester County Public Schools Superintendent W. David Bromwell announced in a letter to the community Wednesday afternoon, Jan. 6, that schools will remain in Phase 1 — all virtual learning — next week.

“As I announced during the break, we planned on returning Jan. 5, in small group instruction as before the break. My daily conversations with Dorchester County Health Department Officer Roger Harrell continued over the holiday break, when the Executive Team and I waited anxiously for his daily reports. Each day, Dorchester County’s COVID case figures continued to remain somewhat steady, giving us significant but very cautious optimism for returning in January with an increased student population in our schools,” Bromwell wrote.

He said that optimism began to unravel Dec. 30 the county positivity rate jumped exponentially. Dorchester County has risen to as high as 9.8% positivity rate and 51.5 per 100 thousand case rate, Bromwell said.

“In the days following Dec. 30, 15 DCPS students of varying grade levels tested positive for COVID-19. These students would have affected 7 of our 13 schools,” Bromwell continued. “This was a considerable shift from previous weeks as we had little to no student and staff infections and had been operating over the recommended positivity rate number of 5% and case rate of over 15 per 100k quite successfully. We had been so successful, that several days prior to the break, over 500 students were present in their home school.”

He called the outbreak “disturbing and outright scary.” Nothing like it had been seen since the pandemic began in March, and it occurred in a five-day span while the students were not in school.

“My concern immediately after hearing about our students was that we could NOT create a ‘super spreader’ event by bringing our students back to school in small groups,” Bromwell wrote.

Harrell agreed, and Sunday Bromwell announced to return to Phase I with Wednesday as the deadline to decide next week’s status.

Since Sunday, the number of active COVID cases in Dorchester County has nearly doubled with the number of deaths increasing during the last nine-day span. As of Wednesday, Dorchester reported 1,584 confirmed cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic began, with 135 cases active. Three county residents are currently hospitalized with COVID-19, and 26 residents have died from the virus.

Bromwell said he and Harrell will continue to talk each day.

“(Harrell) uses up to eight different metrics to determine his recommendation for staff and students returning to school, including local hospital capacity, which is already under pressure,” Bromwell said. “As of today, Dorchester County has a 9.8% positivity rate causing us very real concerns for DCPS students and staff.”

He noted the term is coming to a close and urged parents and students to contact teachers, guidance counselors or school administration to assist with any concerns. “Remember, all your grades count towards passing a class and being promoted for the school year,” he said.

Bromwell reiterated the message: “COVID-19 does not care about how schools or parents plan.”

Another update is scheduled for next Wednesday.

“I want everyone to remain safe while staying vigilant with your COVID-19 safety guidelines. Stay tuned, stay healthy, and stay hopeful that we can proceed further into small group, Phase 1.5 or Phase II of our reopening plan as soon as safely possible,” he concluded.

DCPS has 12 schools and 4,767 students.

Nearly $100K given to the Brighter Christmas Fund

Your donation to The Star Democrat‘s Brighter Christmas Fund has helped over 1,600 children and nearly 700 families during the 2020 holiday season. From Nov. 24 through Dec. 31, 2020, The Star Democrat and its sister newspapers published stories each day about families in Talbot, Caroline, Dorchester, Queen Anne’s and Kent counties who struggled to provide a Christmas for their children. These stories were the only way The Star Democrat solicited donations for the Brighter Christmas Fund.

Because of your generosity, parents and caregivers were able to provide gifts for their children. The Star Democrat donated 100% of the Fund’s administrative and operating costs.

We are pleased to continue acknowledging all those who have generously donated to the Fund in 2020, as we are still receiving donations through the mail.

The Brighter Christmas Fund is a 501(c)(3) charity, and tax-deductible donations, which also help other families in need on the Mid-Shore, may be sent to The Brighter Christmas Fund, c/o The Star Democrat, P.O. Box 600, Easton, MD 21601. Donations also may be made online via credit card or Paypal at www.brighterchristmasfund.org. Click the “Donate” button. For more information about the Fund, call 410-200-1884 or email bcf@chespub.com.

The total to date is: $95,785.75

Those sharing the spirit of giving with others this holiday include:

Veterinary Medical Center

Candace Bartolowits

Jeannie Brower

Brian Callahan

Kelley Corrigan-Dammeyer

Dawn Eaton

Crosiadore Farm

Lois Frank

Wendy Grubbs

Cindy Harris

Jay Henson

Diane Horowitz

John and Anne Jelich

Frances Kingery

Michelle Louis

Dr. Debbie Matthews

Thomas Michaels Jr

Marianne Miller

Kathryn O’Donnell

Jerrie Orr

David Prinz

New Chances Rescue

Suzy Schmigel

Liz Sherman

Kirsten Siegel

Jamie Sullivan

Rachel Truitt

Raymond and Anita Vergne

In memory of Bill and Irene Sedgwick

Kenneth and Sarah Sadler

R.A. and J.D. Coffren

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Congress reconvenes to certify Biden's win; Trump supporter killed inside Capitol; Twitter, Facebook suspend Trump

WASHINGTON — Anarchy and resistance gripped Washington D.C. on Wednesday, Jan. 6, as protesters stormed the Capitol while Congress debated certification of President-elect Joe Biden’s 2020 victory over President Donald Trump.

The chaotic protests locked down both chambers of Congress Wednesday afternoon as they debated objections by Trump supporters to Biden’s Electoral College win.

Dramatic footage showed protesters in the Senate chambers, scaling the walls of the Capitol and inside U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office. A woman was shot and later died at the Capitol, according to the Associated Press and other reports. Other reports have said the deceased woman was a Trump supporter and that she was potentially shot by police.

The chaotic events occurred after President Donald Trump held a large rally earlier in the day in front of the White House, disputing Biden’s win in battlegrounds such as Georgia and Pennsylvania.

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan and Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam both dispatched National Guard troops to D.C. to help enforce a 6 p.m. curfew. Hogan also joined the chorus of condemnations of the protests.

“All Americans should be outraged by this attack on our nation’s Capitol. This is a heinous and violent assault on the heart of our democracy. I will not stand for this, and neither should any American,” Hogan said.

Hogan also sent Maryland State Police to D.C. Wednesday.

“I am in close contact with congressional leaders about the situation inside the Capitol. At my direction, the Maryland State Police is sending in troopers to assist the Metropolitan Police Department and the United States Capitol Police. I have instructed the Adjutant General of the Maryland National Guard to call up a rapid response force to support law enforcement and restore order,” the governor said.

Congressional supporters of Trump, including U.S. Rep. Andy Harris, R-Md.-1st., and U.S. Rep. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, were objecting to the Electoral College certification.

Trump backers wanted to see a special audit of disputed results in battlegrounds won by Biden before final certification. Congressional leaders were looking to reconvene to proceed with certifying Biden’s win. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., stressed Wednesday evening the Congress would certify the 2020 results. The Senate rejected objections to Arizona's results late Wednesday night but there could more fights over other battleground results that could stretch into Thursday morning. 

At the earlier rally outside the White House, Trump kept up his claims that illegal mail-in votes and fraudulent counts led to Biden’s win. “Make no mistake this election was stolen,” Trump said during the earlier rally. He also contended Biden was aided by votes by “non-citizens” and those who had died.

Biden strongly condemned the Capitol protests.

“Let me be very clear: the scenes of chaos at the Capitol do not represent who we are. What we are seeing is a small number of extremists dedicated to lawlessness. This is not dissent, it’s disorder. It borders on sedition, and it must end. Now,” Biden said.

Biden also said the overrunning of the Capitol disrupted the “sacred ritual” of certifying the Electoral College results.

Shortly after that, Trump called on protesters to disperse. “We have to go home now. We have to have peace,” Trump said in a video statement. Still, Trump kept up his claims that the election was rigged. ”It was a fraudulent election, but we can’t play into the hands of these people, so go home,” Trump said.

Twitter announced later on Wednesday that Trump’s account had been suspended for at least 12 hours until he deletes recent posts claiming the election was stolen. Facebook and Instagram have also suspended Trump's accounts.

U.S. Sen. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., joined a chorus of criticism of Trump and the protests.

“Hard to take seriously the political arsonists, starting with Trump, when they say they want to put out the flames after they lit the match. I never thought we would live to see the day that violent mobs seized control of the Capitol. I cry for our country,” Van Hollen said.

A number of Trump critics are pushing for use of the 25th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution to remove him from office before Biden’s inauguration.

Earlier in the day, Maryland Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford, a Republican, faulted the Electoral College challenges even before the unrest and chaos. “It really is an affront and an insult to the democracy of our nation,” Rutherford said of the Trump-fueled challenges to Biden’s win.