Dozens of children were possibly exposed to COVID-19 at a Christmas event in southeast Georgia after having their photos taken with "Santa" and "Mrs. Claus," who later tested positive for the coronavirus.
The Long County Chamber of Commerce held its annual Christmas parade on Dec. 10 in Ludowici, followed by a tree lighting an opportunity for kids to meet Santa and Mrs. Claus. Two days later, the couple who portrayed the jolly couple tested positive for COVID-19 after receiving a rapid test, according to WTOC.
Neither Santa or Mrs. Claus were symptomatic at the time of the event, according to the Long County Board of Commissioners.
Commission chair Robert Parker said around 50 children took a photo with Santa and were possibly exposed to COVID-19 during the event. He told WSAV that his own children took photos with Santa during the "well attended" event.
"I feel that it is important to note that exposures happen every day as we go about our day to day lives, often without any knowledge," Long County Board of Commissioners Chairman Robert D. Parker said in a statement. "Children are in close contact with both other children and adults daily at school, rec functions, and church. Proper CDC exposure guidelines should be followed if your child was exposed, however I do not feel this incident is cause for panic."
“I’ve known the folks that portray Mr. and Mrs. Claus, my whole life they were doing it when I was a child and I could tell you that they would never intentionally, had they known they were sick, had they felt sick, they would’ve never intentionally put anybody in harm’s way,” Parker told WTOC.
The local school system is asking students who were exposed to the virus to stay home until after the holiday break, according to WTOC.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends quarantining for 14 days after contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19, if you were less than 6-feet away for more than 15 minutes.
As for the real Santa, children don't need to worry because he's immune from coronavirus, Dr. Anthony Fauci and the World Health Organization recently declared.