Dozens of children in South Georgia were potentially exposed to COVID-19 at a Christmas celebration last week after it was later discovered that Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus had tested positive for the virus.
Long County, Georgia — a county located about an hour west of Savannah — hosted its annual Christmas parade last Thursday which included a tree lighting and a photo opp with Santa.
At the time, Santa and Mrs. Claus were not exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19. However, two days later, both learned they had tested positive for the virus.
Both WSAV-TV and WJCL-TV in Savannah both report that as many as 50 children took their photos with Santa last Thursday. It's unclear if either were wearing masks at the time of the photo op.
Rob Parker, the Chairman of the Long County Board of Commissioners, says that while the event was not organized by the county, he does not regret that it took place.
“While this event was not put on by the City of Ludowici or the Long County Board of Commissioners, it was well attended by our public officials and I believe I speak for the majority of them in saying that we still stand by the decision of the Chamber to move forward with these holiday traditions, and to bring some sense of normalcy to these trying times,” Parker said, according to WSAV.
Parker added that Santa and Mrs. Claus would "never knowingly" have participated if they knew they had the virus.
“They have both filled these roles for many years, and bringing joy to children during the holidays is one of the most important parts of their lives,” Parker said.
The Long County School District has asked that children who may have been exposed to the virus to stay home until after winter break, and has already instituted an option "learn-at-home" option due to the increase in quarantined students.