Trump Administration Halts Santa Claus Coronavirus Plan

The Department of Health and Human Services has halted a coronavirus advertising campaign centered around Santa Claus performers.

What We Know:

  • The $250 million campaign would have seen mall Santas promoting a COVID-19 vaccine in exchange for early access to it. Mrs. Claus performers and elves would have been included. You can’t make this stuff up.
  • The campaign was originated by HHS assistant secretary Michael Caputo, who is on a 60-day medical leave. The plan was intended to “defeat despair” and “inspire hope”. It is now being thoroughly revied by HHS.
  • Several House Democrats have suggested that this campaign was purely a political stunt rather than a genuine public health effort. The administration attempted to include actor Dennis Quaid and other celebrities in the campaign, but their participation fizzled out.
  • HHS Secretary Alex Azar said that the Santa “collaboration will not be happening” and that he had no knowledge of Caputo’s discussions. Ric Erwin of the Fraternal Order of Real Bearded Santas said the news was “extremely disappointing” and that it “was our greatest hope for Christmas 2020, and now it looks like it won’t happen”.
  • Caputo reportedly called Erwin in August, telling him that a vaccine would likely be ready by mid-November and that essential workers would have it by Thanksgiving. “If you and your colleagues are not essential workers, I don’t know what is . . . I cannot wait to tell the president. He’s going to love this,” said Caputo.

White House spokesman Brian Morgenstern told the Wall Street Journal that the president had no knowledge of the Santa campaign.