Santa, according to U.S. air defense systems, will be flying around the world with help from his eight reindeer delivering presents as usual this year. But is he taking any precautions during the pandemic?

Here’s the story we all know. A newspaper advertisement in 1955 listed the phone number for U.S. air defense rather than Santa. The officer who answered when a child rang the number, Air Force Col. Harry Shoup, played along. And the rest, as they say, is history.

“A holiday tradition was born, which the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) has carried on since it was created in 1958,” NORAD said in a statement. “Each year since, NORAD has reported Santa's location on Dec. 24 to millions of children and families around the world.”

But will this year be different? Social restrictions in place since the pandemic may alter how NORAD presents Santa’s long journey around the world this year. Will Santa have to get a test for COVID-19? Or was he one of the first to get vaccinated?

Here’s what we know so far. NORAD, like all other government agencies, is dealing with the pandemic through all of its operations. That includes monitoring North America for violations of air sovereignty. After the Cold War, that operation was expanded to include counter-drug operations. Its mandate was expanded again to monitor internal North American airspace following al-Qaida attacks on the United States on 9/11.

And, of course, tracking Santa.

NORAD told us that when people call the Santa Tracker – 1-877-Hi-NORAD – don’t be surprised if you get a busy signal. But don’t be deterred; there’s a message running to let people know where Santa is. That information is online too at various app stores and at

And if you have Amazon’s Alexa, just ask her, “Where is Santa?”

But what about the pandemic? It’s not clear what numbers for COVID-19 are at the North Pole. Apart from Santa, there are no permanent residents. The closest landmass is Greenland, which as of Dec. 9 had only 18 reported cases and zero deaths attributed to COVID-19.

A spokesperson for NORAD told us they weren’t sure what protective measures Santa, his wife, the elves or the reindeer are taking during the pandemic.

“But I have heard of medical experts stating that Santa is immune to COVID and cannot transmit it to others,” the spokesperson said. “All of that is beyond us at NORAD - we simply track his movements on Dec. 24.”

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top infectious disease expert in the United States, offered some encouraging words for children worried about the impact on the holiday because of the pandemic.

Speaking to USA Today in November, Fauci said Santa would not be spreading COVID-19 while delivering presents this year.

Fauci sought to calm the fears of children who may be concerned about Santa's health as he rushes to deliver presents around the world on Christmas Eve, putting himself at risk of contracting the virus.

"Santa is exempt from this because Santa, of all the good qualities, has a lot of good innate immunity," Fauci explained.

While Santa may be considered a high-risk candidate for contracting the coronavirus based on his age and weight, Fauci maintains that he is taking the necessary precautions to stay safe.

A boy wears a Santa hat and mask while looking for a Christmas tree at a farm in Harrowsmith, Ontario, Canada, on December 5, 2020
A boy wears a Santa hat and mask while looking for a Christmas tree at a farm in Harrowsmith, Ontario, Canada, on December 5, 2020 AFP / Lars Hagberg