Santa, Mrs. Claus expose children to COVID at tree lighting

Health

LUDOWICI, Ga. (AP) — Dozens of children who attended a tree lighting event in Georgia may have been exposed to COVID-19 after a pair performing as Santa and Mrs. Claus tested positive for the virus, officials said.

Commissioners’ Chair Robert Parker said about 50 children, including his own, took pictures with Santa and Mrs. Claus, whose names weren’t immediately released. Both tested positive after the Dec. 10 event in Ludowici about 46 miles (74 kilometers) 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 school is not canceled.

Parker said the exposure is cause for concern but said “exposures happen every day.”

“Children are in close contact with both other children and adults daily at school, rec functions, and church,” Parker said. “Proper CDC exposure guidelines should be followed if your child was exposed, however I do not feel this incident is cause for panic.”

The exposure comes days after several 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 at Lowndes County schools and out in the community.

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

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