Long Co. children possibly exposed to COVID-19 during holiday activities

Long County, Ga. children possibly exposed to COVID-19 during holiday activities

LONG COUNTY, Ga. (WTOC) - Long County Commission Chairman Robert Parker is warning families their children could have been exposed to COVID-19 during holiday festivities in Ludowici on Thursday. The activities are a part of the Long County Chamber of Commerce’s annual Christmas Parade.

Parker says a photoshoot with Santa and Mrs. Claus may be the source of the outbreak. The two people portraying the jolly couple tested positive for COVID-19 following a rapid test taken on Saturday. A release from Long County says that roughly 50 children had their picture taken.

The Long County School System is asking parents to keep children that were exposed or show symptoms at home until after the new year. This does not mean that school is canceled.

Parker says it is not known how many children and their family members may have been exposed to the virus. He included a statement in a press release to the Coastal News Service.

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, rec 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. 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. 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.
Robert Parker, Long Co. Commission Chairman.

Parker says he supports the chamber continuing the festivities and holiday traditions, because for some kids in the area it’s all they have.

“I’ve known the folks that portray Mr. and Mrs. Claus, my whole life they were doing it when I was a child and I could tell you that they would never intentionally, had they known they were sick, had they felt sick, they would’ve never intentionally put anybody in harm’s way,” Parker said.

He says they wanted to retain a sense of normalcy, however those who were in close contact have started to follow CDC guidelines to limit the spread.

“Nobody made anybody go there, I mean the parents had the choice to send their children, they knew what precautions would be in place. The school has notified the parents and any of the children that were in contact have been asked to quarantine,” Parker said.

Parker says they’ve only had about two cases among county employees. Masks are not required but are recommended.

He says anyone who starts to feel sick or has any symptoms or is just concerned should get tested.

*The Coastal News Service contributed to this report.*

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