Philadelphia health experts urge caution for New Year's Eve celebrations

The city's health department says individuals need to be smart about their New Year's plans.
PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- As the Omicron variant cases skyrocket in Philadelphia, some bars and restaurants are scaling back parties, and some residents are reconsidering plans altogether.

"We're trying to be proactive as far as the virus goes," said Kraven Dickens, who is in town for a New Year's Eve wedding.

Her family hopes to mitigate risk while celebrating.

"We definitely are masked up all the time, and we're all vaccinated, had our boosters," she said.

The city's health department says individuals need to be smart about their New Year's plans.

"We are probably in the most dangerous time of the pandemic," said spokesperson James Garrow, who once again urged people to keep gatherings small and outdoors if possible. "The precautions aren't anything that we haven't done before. It's really simple. If anyone is feeling sick at all, even if you know it's not covid, it's just a cold, it's best to stay home."

Businesses that will be open for New Year's Eve are taking precautions.

Masking and vaccine proof are requirements for guests who will ring in the new year at Charlie Was A Sinner in Center City.

"We're just really going to celebrate a brand new year. Hopefully, it's much more positive than this last year," said Nicole Marquis, the CEO of HipCityVeg.

Staff at her restaurants dialed back their usual parties and limited reservations to two-hour windows.

Marquis says they're lucky to be open at all, as some restaurants closed for the holiday.

"That's what's tough about this back-to-back holiday season that we have people gathering frequently, and that gives us so many more opportunities to transmit," said Dr. Carolyn Cannuscio, an epidemiologist and professor at the University of Pennsylvania.

Cannuscio says if you are going out, you should upgrade your mask. Either wear an n95 or layer a surgical mask and cloth one. The safest option, however, is old guidance.

"The best thing we can do to flatten the curve is to stay home," she said.

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COVID-19 is ripping through the Delaware Valley, with surging cases in all three states.

The Delaware Department of Health reported its highest number of positive daily cases since the pandemic started at 3,381 positive COVID-19 cases.

Philadelphia is now averaging more than 2,100 new cases per day, and New Jersey is averaging more than 17,000 new cases each day, which is three and a half times higher than the average two weeks ago.

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