Long County Commissioner Chairman Robert Parker said parents and children were possibly exposed to COVID-19 during Long County Christmas held Dec. 10.
Parker said officials in Long County are notifying parents their children may have been exposed to the COVID-19 virus when they took part in a photo taking session with the couple who was portraying Santa and Mrs. Clause. Parker said the couple tested positive on Saturday for the virus when they took a rapid test.
“The events were well attended and roughly 50 children had their picture taken with Santa,” Parker said in a release to the Courier regarding the Santa photos and tree lighting event. “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. They were not displaying any symptoms at the time of 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. Children are in close contact with both other children and adults daily at school, recreation 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.”
According to Parker the Long County school system has been notifying parents by phone. The Long County School System is asking parents to keep children, who may have been exposed or are showing symptoms to remain home until after the New Year.
School is not canceled, however parents were given the option to switch to virtual learning.
“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 said. “My children both had their picture made with Santa, and their smiles were bigger than any day when they head off to school, where the same risk of exposure exist. 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. 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. 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. Without them filling these roles locally, I know there are countless underprivileged children who would never have experienced the joy of meeting Santa Claus. My family and the community are praying for a speedy recovery for the "Clauses", and are looking forward to many more years of the joy they bring to our county.”