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As COVID-19 numbers climb through the winter wave—second or third depending on who you ask—countries across the world are moving back toward lockdowns and closures.
There’s one place on the planet, though, that can’t afford to close down: The North Pole. That’s why there were grim faces yesterday when two elves presided over a hastily assembled press conference. They announced that the novel coronavirus had arrived on their doorstep.
“Welcome,” said Gingerbread, a nine-hundred-year-old elf who serves as the North Pole’s unofficial press secretary. “We can now confirm that Santa Claus tested positive for COVID-19.”
Claus falls into several high-risk categories. He is old (his exact age is not known but he is at least twelve hundred years old), overweight, and has prediabetes—according to Nutmeg, an elf who doubles as his private physician. “I’m not trained, exactly,” said Nutmeg. “Although I am the one who makes the toy stethoscopes.”
Despite his risk factors, Santa has not shown severe symptoms yet. “For a man—a being—of his age and weight, he’s in superb shape,” said Nutmeg. “Probably it has something to do with being immortal and magical.”
Still, out of an abundance of caution, Santa is quarantining himself from Mrs. Claus and the rest of the toy workshop. “The elves are okay with it,” said Sprinkles, who is a middle manager in the workshop. “He’s kind of a jerk this time of year. But I don’t think Mrs. Claus is thrilled by this. I overheard her telling a friend on the phone how much she looks forward to ‘shaking like a bowlful, of jelly, if you know what I mean.’ I don’t!”
North Pole representatives say that Santa is still planning on making his Christmas Eve toy run. His sleigh is being outfitted with plastic shields in anticipation of the night. “He has every intention of carrying out his duties,” said Gingerbread, “and no intention of becoming a super-spreader.”
There was one sticking point. “For the most part, he’s been very compliant with our recommendations,” said Nutmeg. “But he really balked at the mask. He said that his face has to be visible. It’s his thing. He agreed to fold his beard up over his mouth and keep it in place with bobby pins when there was any risk of being within six feet of anyone else.”
“Gross,” said Gingerbread.
To cover the cost of the sleigh shields and other necessary remediation, the North Pole has begun selling Santatizer, hand sanitizer in small red and green bottles. “It smells like eggnog,” said Sprinkles.