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Americans don’t need to cancel their New Year’s Eve plans, but they should avoid big parties to reduce their chances of becoming infected with the fast-spreading Omicron variant, Anthony Fauci, M.D., chief White House medical adviser, said Wednesday.
But most small family gatherings are OK, Fauci said.
“If you are in a situation with a family setting in your home with family, parents, children, grandparents, and everyone is vaccinated and boosted, although the risk is never zero in anything, the risk is low enough that we feel you should continue to go through with those plans,” Fauci said at a White House news briefing.
“If your plans are to go to a 40- or 50-person New Year’s Eve party with all the bells and whistles and everybody hugging and kissing and wishing each other a Happy New Year, I would strongly recommend that this year we do not do that.”
A number of cities have canceled their New Year’s Eve celebrations, among them Los Angeles, London, Paris, Rome, and Tokyo, CNBC reported. New York City is not calling off its event, but is limiting attendance to 15,000, compared to the normal crowd of 58,000.
At the same news briefing on Wednesday, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, M.D., said the Omicron variant has pushed the seven-day daily average of cases to about 240,400 per day, 60% higher than the previous week.
“The rapid increase in cases we are seeing across the country is in large part a reflection of the exceptionally transmissible Omicron variant,” she said. “In a few short weeks, Omicron has rapidly increased across the country and, we expect, will continue to circulate in the coming weeks.”
Hospitalizations and deaths remain “comparatively low,” she said.
The seven-day average of hospitalizations is about 9,000 per day, an increase of 14% over the previous week.
“This could be due to the fact that hospitalizations tend to lag behind cases by about two weeks but may also be due to early indications that we’ve seen from other countries like South Africa and United Kingdom of milder disease from Omicron, especially among the vaccinated and the boosted,” she said.
The seven-day average of daily deaths was around 1,100 per day, a decrease of about 7% from the previous week.
The White House. “Press Briefing by White House COVID-19 Response Team and Public Health Officials”
CNBC. “Fauci warns against large New Year’s Eve parties as Covid cases hit pandemic high”