What are you doing New Year’s Eve?: How to ring in the New Year safely

NEW HANOVER COUNTY (WWAY) — With COVID levels spiking after the holidays and New Year’s Eve on it’s way, many are having to make tough decisions when it comes to ringing in the new year.

Local health experts and physicians say you can definitely stay up to watch the ball drop, but other traditions like large parties and kissing at midnight might need to adapt to the current circumstances.

With the omicron COVID-19 variant infecting more and more around the Cape Fear, New Hanover County Health and Human Service’s Donna Fayko says celebration is possible if you take the proper precautions.

“Make sure that we’re social distancing,” Fayko advised. “If we’re in crowded indoor spaces, we need to mask whether or not we’re vaccinated. Because fully vaccinated people are getting covid. We need to be aware of that.”

According to Wilmington Health’s Dr. Paul Kamitsuka, omicron is thought to be as contagious as measles and twice as contagious as the delta variant.

“You know, for example, if I have measles, and I’m in this room, if I leave the room, the air in the room will remain contagious for two hours after I leave,” Kamitsuka said.

That’s why Kamitsuka urges folks to wear a mask in indoor public spaces, even if you’re vaccinated and boosted.

“I think many of the cases of omicron among the people who are vaccinated and boosted, they may in fact turn out to not have symptoms,” he said. “And that really underscores the importance of testing.”

With more people testing positive, New Hanover County has seen a surge in people seeking testing appointments and a shortage of take home Covid-19 tests. According to Pandemic Operations Manager John Campbell, having all guests test before throwing a gathering can be the key to a safe start to the New Year.

“Test the day before and the day of the event,” Campbell explained. “That way you know if you’re an asymptomatic individual, you can know. And then you know what, sure go ahead give a loved one a peck on a cheek. Ok? Or give them a big ol’ smooch on the lips. But play it safe.”

And if you feel off, don’t drop the ball on getting tested and social distancing.

“Stay home if you’re sick,” Fayko said. “Even if you just have a stuffy nose and you don’t think there’s anyway you could have COVID-19, just stay home or wear a mask.”

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