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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 8:08 AM
Updated: 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: 319704

Reported Deaths: 7369
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto22276267
Hinds20677421
Harrison18407317
Rankin13880282
Jackson13689248
Madison10249224
Lee10056176
Jones8464167
Forrest7827153
Lauderdale7260242
Lowndes6509150
Lamar634888
Lafayette6310121
Washington5420137
Bolivar4837133
Panola4669110
Oktibbeha466098
Pearl River4604147
Marshall4573105
Warren4440121
Pontotoc425373
Union415777
Monroe4155135
Neshoba4061179
Lincoln4008112
Hancock386687
Leflore3515125
Tate342486
Sunflower339491
Pike3369111
Alcorn325972
Scott320174
Yazoo314171
Adams307486
Itawamba305178
Copiah299966
Coahoma298784
Simpson298189
Tippah291968
Prentiss283861
Leake271974
Marion271280
Covington267283
Wayne264442
Grenada264087
George252051
Newton248663
Tishomingo231568
Winston229981
Jasper222148
Attala215073
Chickasaw210559
Holmes190374
Clay187854
Stone187833
Tallahatchie180041
Clarke178980
Calhoun174132
Yalobusha167840
Smith164034
Walthall135347
Greene131833
Lawrence131024
Montgomery128643
Noxubee128034
Perry127138
Amite126342
Carroll122330
Webster115032
Jefferson Davis108033
Tunica108027
Claiborne103130
Benton102325
Humphreys97533
Kemper96629
Franklin85023
Quitman82216
Choctaw79118
Wilkinson69532
Jefferson66228
Sharkey50917
Issaquena1696
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 548323

Reported Deaths: 11288
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson809531565
Mobile42066826
Madison35663525
Tuscaloosa26162458
Shelby25595254
Montgomery25081612
Baldwin21839313
Lee16265176
Calhoun14718325
Morgan14626285
Etowah14171363
Marshall12449230
Houston10764288
Elmore10295213
Limestone10182157
St. Clair10160251
Cullman9941201
Lauderdale9596249
DeKalb8967189
Talladega8458184
Walker7335280
Autauga7230113
Blount6944139
Jackson6922113
Colbert6414140
Coffee5627127
Dale4929114
Russell454941
Chilton4472116
Franklin431083
Covington4273122
Tallapoosa4136155
Escambia401780
Chambers3726124
Dallas3607156
Clarke352961
Marion3242106
Pike314078
Lawrence3129100
Winston283572
Bibb268464
Geneva257581
Marengo250665
Pickens236862
Barbour234659
Hale226878
Butler224071
Fayette218162
Henry193843
Cherokee187245
Randolph187044
Monroe179341
Washington170439
Macon162951
Clay160159
Crenshaw155657
Cleburne153244
Lamar146537
Lowndes142054
Wilcox127030
Bullock124242
Conecuh113430
Coosa111429
Perry108626
Sumter105732
Greene93534
Choctaw62025
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We continue to monitor a tropical disturbance in the Gulf of Mexico. This will be in heavy rainfall two locations across the southeast over the course of the weekend, and flooding rainfall could be in tow as well. Things are looking better for Father’s Day itself, thankfully.
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