Dozens of children spent time with Santa and Mrs. Claus during an annual Christmas tradition in a small town in southern Georgia.
Now officials in Ludowici, Georgia, must grapple with an unsettling aftermath: The guests of honor tested positive for Covid-19 two days after the event on December 10.
“It has now been brought to the attention of the Chamber of Commerce, as well as my office, that after the event both ‘Santa’ and ‘Mrs. Claus’ were tested for the Covid-19 virus and both received positive test results,” said Robert Parker, chairman of the Long County Commission, said in a news release. “They were not displaying any symptoms at the time of the event.”
After participating in the Long County Chamber of Commerce parade, Santa and Mrs. Claus were at a “well attended” tree lighting and an event where an estimated 50 children took a photo with Santa.
In the same news release, Parker offered a mixed message, saying that the incident was both a “cause for concern” and that he did “not feel this incident is cause for panic.” He said that both of his children were part of the estimated number that had taken their photo with Santa.
“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 said. “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.”
While Parker said in the news release that he speaks for the majority of the commission in saying that they plan to move forward with other holiday traditions to bring “some sense of normalcy” to the pandemic, he told CNN that there is “nothing else scheduled” for the remainder of the year.
Parker said he and his family have not displayed any symptoms of Covid-19.
Ludowici is located in southeastern Georgia and has a population of roughly 2,200 people. It is the county seat of Long County as it is the county’s only incorporated municipality.