New Year's Eve parties are a 'Covid-19 dream.' Here's why they can be especially dangerous

Yes, 2020 was largely a dumpster fire....

Posted: Dec 30, 2020 9:11 AM

Yes, 2020 was largely a dumpster fire. No one blames you for wanting to ring in the new year. But celebrating the wrong way could lead to months of misery due to Covid-19.

"The problem is we have so much Covid-19 transmission going on in the US right now," said Dr. Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine.

"Practically speaking, what that means is if you go to a party with five or more people, almost certainly there's going to be somebody with Covid-19 at that party."

Any gathering with people outside your special bubble is risky. But there are several reasons why New Year's Eve parties can be especially dangerous:

They're probably indoors: New Year's Eve could be the coldest holiday of the pandemic -- meaning more indoor parties and increased risk of aerosolized spread.

Scientists now know coronavirus "can linger in the air for minutes to hours," the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

"These viruses may be able to infect people who are further than 6 feet away from the person who is infected or after that person has left the space."

Guests might not wear masks all the time: Whether they're toasting champagne at midnight or nibbling on snacks all night long, partygoers will likely take their masks off -- if they're wearing one at all.

Even if the event is small, anyone outside your social distancing bubble could get infected or infect others.

"If you have a party in your neighborhood, or if you just invite some friends over, there's a pretty high risk," Hotez said.

It's important to remember coronavirus can be spread just by talking. And many infections come from people who don't have symptoms (or who don't have symptoms yet).

Young people might think they're invincible: Even young, previously healthy people have suffered long-term complications from Covid-19.

"We see severe illness among healthy, young adults with no apparent underlying causes," Hotez said.

"Whether that's due to ... a higher dose of the virus, whether they have genetic alterations they don't know about -- we just don't understand. So we can't reliably predict who's going to handle this virus well, and who doesn't."

Some young people have experienced long-term brain fog, difficulty breathing and extreme fatigue months after infection.

Other complications can include "long-term vascular injury, cardiovascular injury, lung injury, neurological effects, also cognitive impairments," Hotez said.

Generally, younger people are often more likely to be asymptomatic than older people. But that poses another problem: the risk of spreading coronavirus to many people without knowing it.

Revelers might sing or shout: Singing and shouting can be dangerously effective ways of hurling coronavirus into the air.

In Washington state, for example, 53 members of a choir fell sick (and two people died) after one member attended rehearsals and later tested positive for Covid-19.

New Year's parties are 'a Covid-19 dream'

Because coronavirus is highly contagious, "it doesn't take much for this to spiral out of control," Hotez said.

"The loud voices to get your voice heard over the music. The lack of wearing masks. The fact that they're indoors. The fact that people are drinking alcohol, so they may be closer to one another than usual. These New Year's Eve parties are perfectly made for the SARS-CoV-2," or the scientific name for the novel coronavirus.

"This is a Covid-19 dream for the virus, unfortunately," Hotez said.

"All of these reasons are important reasons why we should not be gathering on this New Year's Eve."

Is there any way to celebrate New Year's safely?

"Yes, absolutely -- with whoever you're social distancing with," Hotez said.

The CDC has a long list of ideas on how to celebrate New Year's safely. Among them:

-- Have a virtual party with friends and celebrate the countdown together.

-- Plan a neighborhood countdown to midnight. Neighbors can go outside and cheer from the front of their homes.

-- Pick up a special meal from a local restaurant to share with your household.

-- Watch celebrations on TV or online.

-- Call, text or leave voicemails for friends and family wishing them a happy new year.

If you already have plans for a big party, don't be afraid to cancel them to ensure a healthy start to 2021.

"It's okay if you decide to postpone or cancel your gathering," the CDC says. "Do what's best for you."

And don't worry, this will probably be the last time health experts beg you to hunker down for New Year's Eve.

"Once we start getting vaccinated, we'll be in a much better position by the middle of next year," Hotez said. "And we can have a much happier New Year's 2022."

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 268672

Reported Deaths: 5917
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto17928195
Hinds17030337
Harrison14510212
Rankin11315223
Jackson11054193
Lee9109147
Madison8663171
Jones6853120
Forrest6260125
Lauderdale6161196
Lowndes5582123
Lafayette5269101
Lamar508765
Washington4965125
Bolivar4164110
Oktibbeha411585
Panola389881
Pontotoc380460
Monroe3727111
Warren3716103
Marshall360172
Union360165
Pearl River3527106
Neshoba3516158
Leflore3132110
Lincoln308389
Hancock300963
Sunflower294277
Tate281862
Alcorn274055
Pike272984
Itawamba271263
Scott264055
Yazoo258456
Prentiss255454
Coahoma252455
Copiah251549
Tippah251551
Simpson244872
Leake238967
Marion228274
Covington224873
Grenada224673
Wayne216336
Adams216271
Winston208271
George206440
Newton201447
Attala197465
Tishomingo196361
Chickasaw190245
Jasper183138
Holmes172568
Clay168637
Tallahatchie158035
Stone153625
Clarke148762
Calhoun142022
Smith131926
Yalobusha124935
Walthall115438
Greene114929
Noxubee114526
Montgomery112936
Lawrence107917
Carroll106922
Perry105931
Amite102727
Webster98024
Claiborne90125
Tunica89621
Jefferson Davis89330
Benton86923
Humphreys85625
Kemper81220
Quitman7169
Franklin71017
Choctaw64013
Wilkinson60125
Jefferson57321
Sharkey45717
Issaquena1616
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 445909

Reported Deaths: 6896
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson651891049
Mobile32138590
Madison28596223
Tuscaloosa21703276
Montgomery20220336
Shelby19584138
Baldwin17496216
Lee13378109
Morgan12741145
Etowah12196189
Calhoun11626228
Marshall10513126
Houston9097168
Limestone842481
Cullman8363125
Elmore8283112
Lauderdale7986112
DeKalb7935112
St. Clair7915139
Talladega6552112
Walker6068184
Jackson605649
Colbert560194
Blount551794
Autauga544065
Coffee470569
Dale415186
Franklin378150
Russell362816
Chilton348079
Covington344681
Escambia342244
Tallapoosa3184109
Dallas314197
Chambers308575
Clarke307339
Pike267735
Lawrence256958
Marion255763
Winston235243
Bibb224751
Geneva214747
Marengo212031
Pickens201831
Barbour188240
Hale187444
Fayette181230
Butler175960
Cherokee167433
Henry161325
Monroe153521
Randolph148236
Washington144027
Clay131050
Crenshaw126245
Macon124337
Cleburne123627
Lamar121324
Lowndes117636
Wilcox109422
Bullock105829
Perry100518
Conecuh98222
Sumter90828
Greene78323
Coosa64619
Choctaw52224
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