Santa Claus came to town in Georgia — with the coronavirus

Santa Claus figures at a Home Depot store in Boston
Santa Claus figures at a Home Depot store in Boston.
(Steven Senne / Associated Press)

Dozens of children who attended a Christmas tree-lighting event in Georgia may have been exposed to coronavirus after a pair performing as Santa and Mrs. Claus tested positive, officials said.

Commissioners’ Chair Robert Parker said about 50 children, including his own, took pictures with the Clauses. The performers playing them, whose names weren’t immediately released, both tested positive after the Dec. 10 event in Ludowici, about 46 miles south of Savannah.

Parker said the pair, who didn’t display any symptoms during the event, portrayed the Clauses for “many years” and had good intentions.


“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 in the statement.

It’s unknown how many people in attendance were exposed to the virus.

The county school system has asked parents to keep children at home if they were exposed or if they are showing symptoms. However, in-person schooling has not been canceled.

Roughly 240,000 Californians have tested positive for the virus in the last 14 days, and about 112 have died of COVID-19 each day over the last week.

Dec. 8, 2020

Parker said that the incident was cause for concern but that “exposures happen every day.”

“Children are in close contact with both other children and adults daily” at school, recreational events and church, Parker said, adding: “I do not feel this incident is cause for panic.”

The exposure came days after several Georgia school systems opted to quarantine because of COVID-19 infections, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. More than 200 students and several staff members are quarantining through the end of the year after being exposed to the coronavirus at Lowndes County schools and out in the community.

Lowndes and other counties will continue in-person classes next semester.