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Santa & Mrs. Claus Test Positive For COVID After Taking Photos With Kids

The diagnosis comes a few days after the holiday actors took photos with dozens of children at a parade and tree-lighting ceremony.

by Morgan Brinlee

Two holiday actors performing as Santa and Mrs. Claus have tested positive for COVID-19 two days after posing with dozens of children at a holiday event in Ludowici, Georgia. According to the Long County Board of Commissioners, roughly 50 children are estimated to have visited with the actors during a holiday event hosted by the Long County Chamber of Commerce.

In a message shared Monday on Facebook, Long County Chairman Robert D. Parker said the two people who performed as Santa and Mrs. Claus at Ludowici's annual Christmas parade and tree lighting both tested positive for COVID-19 a few days after the event. "While this is cause for concern, 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," Parker wrote on the Long County Board of Commissioners' official Facebook page. "Proper CDC exposure guidelines should be followed if your child was exposed, however I do not feel this incident is cause for panic."

According to local broadcaster WSAV, the Long County School District has asked the parents of any child who was exposed to COVID-19 to stay home until the new year. Additionally, the school district has recently announced it established a temporary learn-at-home option for students due to a rising number of COVID-19 cases and incidents of exposure and quarantine among both students and staff.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends anyone who has been in close contact with someone found to have COVID-19 quarantine at home for 14 days beginning from their last contact with the infected person. Since the pandemic began, Georgia has seen at least 527,157 COVID-19 cases and 9,803 deaths, according to a New York Times database tasked with tracking the virus. However, just 385 of those cases have been reported in Long County.

Despite the potential exposure that happened at last week's holiday event, Long County Chairman Robert D. Parker said public officials stood by the Long County Chamber of Commerce's decision to hold the event amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. "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 wrote. "I want to further emphasize that no children were forced to attend the events and that choice was left solely in the hands their parents."

The names of the actors have not been made public in an effort to protect their privacy and Parker has stressed that neither of them would have knowingly exposed children to COVID-19. "I have personally known both 'Santa' and 'Mrs. Claus' my entire life and I can assure everyone that they would have never knowingly done anything to place any children in danger," Parker wrote. "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."

If you think you’re showing symptoms of coronavirus, which include fever, shortness of breath, and cough, call your doctor before going to get tested. If you’re anxious about the virus’s spread in your community, visit the CDC for up-to-date information and resources, or seek out mental health support. You can find all of Romper’s parents + coronavirus coverage here.