“Can Santa get the Coronavirus?” asked my sleepy-eyed 7-year-old. It was 6:30 a.m. and he’d clearly spent a sleepless night agonizing over the Christmas hero’s viral susceptibility. That makes sense. It’s been a sleepless year for everyone, and if 2020 had any remaining dirty tricks up its sleeve, grounding Santa Claus because of COVID-19 would be totally on brand.
I looked my sweet boy in his angelic face, his cheeks still marked by the creases of his sheets, patted down his unruly bedhead and gave him the only reasonable answer:
“Of course Santa Claus can catch COVID.”
But, I assured my child as he let loose a worried whimper, that doesn’t mean he will catch it. I then broke down exactly why it was possible for Santa to get sick and why it was incredibly unlikely he would.
Santa Claus is Human
The main reason Santa can get the coronavirus is that he is human. This is an incredibly important point. The last thing I want to do is turn Santa virus-proof via holiday magic. Because, as we’ve seen over the last year, there have been far too many attempts to magic the virus away. Whether it be with magical thinking (It will just disappear), magical cures (Hydroxychloroquine, essential oils), or magically transporting to another reality (it doesn’t exist), all the magic has done is make it easier for the virus to spread.
The idea that Santa is human and therefore susceptible to human ailments is pretty well established in popular modern Christmas mythology. In Rankin and Bass’ The Year Without A Santa Claus, Christmas is canceled because he has a cold. In the film The Santa Clause, the jolly old elf dies after falling off a roof. In most depictions, Santa struggles with his weight. And while he can pilot a flying sleigh, he cannot see through fog. So despite having magical properties, Santa also has human weaknesses. He’s like Black Widow from the Avengers — he has a very particular set of super skills, honed through intense Christmas training, but is none-the-less a human.
And, not for nothing, my wife and I are human. Considering that we embody Santa Claus our household, there is a very real chance that we could get the coronavirus and cause the holiday to be put on hold. So, in the broadest interpretation, I’m not lying about Santa’s humanity.
Santa Claus Believes in Public Health
Santa’s whole deal, traditionally, was to make sure people were cared for. In his role as a Saint, Nicholas was able to keep three women from going into prostitution by gifting them with dowries. As a symbol of charity people dressed as Santa Collect and distribute goods for the poor. It’s highly unlikely, then, that he would shirk his duties to be a good global citizen.
So, yes. Santa wears a mask. He washes his hands. His workshop has incredible ventilation and besides, it’s located in the North Pole which is pretty much as socially distanced as you can get.
It should also be noted that based on the global map of virus cases from the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Research Center, there are currently zero coronavirus cases within hundreds of miles of the North Pole. Santa is pretty safe where he’s at. But, we can still help him by wearing masks, socially distancing and staying home as much as possible.
Santa Claus is an Essential Worker
Considering his global importance, Santa Claus and his job are essential. With that in mind, we can expect that he has access to all of the personal protective equipment that he and his staff could possibly want.
Also, given his status, as both an elderly man and caregiver, we can expect that he will be one of the first to receive the new coronavirus vaccines if he hasn’t already. The good news is that he won’t have to worry about storing the Pfizer vaccine, which requires temperatures of 110 below zero. He does happen to live in one of the coldest places on earth as it is.
Kids Can Help Santa Stay COVID-19 Negative
Children understand they have to do things for Santa already. After all, he’s got that list. This year they just have to think beyond naughty or nice. There’s nothing wrong with parents asking kids to keep themselves healthy and keep the house clean to make sure Santa remains safe. And on Christmas eve this year it will be even more important for children to go to bed early and stay in bed until morning. It’s how we make sure Santa Claus doesn’t become a super-spreader.
Yes, Santa Claus can get COVID-19. But if we all pull together in the spirit of Saint Nick’s care and generosity, the chances are that he’ll stay healthy and Christmas will go off without a hitch. We’re all Rudolph now.