Long Co. Chamber of Commerce Santa tests positive for COVID-19 after parade, photo op

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LUDOWICI, Ga. (WSAV) – A visit with Santa and Mrs. Claus at the Long County Chamber of Commerce’s annual Christmas parade possibly exposed some 50 children to COVID-19.

The parade took place Thursday, followed by a tree lighting ceremony and a chance to take a picture with Santa at the Old Well. Long County Board of Commissioners Chairman Robert Parker says the events “were well attended” and that his own children took part in the photo op.

According to Parker, the Chamber’s Santa and Mrs. Claus weren’t displaying symptoms at the time of the event. But a COVID-19 test on Saturday resulted in positive results for both.

“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 added.

Long County Schools asked parents to keep students who were exposed or showing symptoms of COVID-19 at home until after the winter break. Officials announced last Wednesday a temporary learn-at-home option would be available until the break due to an increase in students and staff who were exposed or quarantined due to the virus.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends those who have been exposed to a person who has tested positive for coronavirus to stay home for 14 days and monitor symptoms.

Testing is available at the Long County Health Department on Tuesdays from 8 a.m. to noon by appointment, which must be scheduled online or by calling 912-230-9744.

The chairman said he has known Santa and Mrs. Claus his whole life and “they would have never knowingly done anything to place any children in danger.

Parker added: “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.”

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