On Thursday, New York recorded a shattering 38,000 positive coronavirus cases amidst the holiday fervor. Owing to this surge in numbers, the annual New Year’s Event at Times Square will require compulsory masking and capped crowd sizes.
“We are experiencing the winter surge, and numbers are expected to rise. You can also expect to reduce your chance of severe illness from COVID-19 if you get vaccinated and if you get the booster,” said Gov. Kathy Hochul in a statement after the state Department of Health released data showing a new statewide high of 38,835 cases among a record number of 324,786 individuals tested in a single day.
To counter the surge, state officials are planning to distribute 36 million free take-home COVID-19 tests, and what’s more, is that mega-event will once again be a little more mellow this year. Apart from proof of vaccinations, the New Year event will cut the number of participants by nearly 75 percent. Officials said capping the crowd size at 15,000 — down from the usual 58,000 — will provide significant additional space for social distancing.
Announcing the decision, Mayor Bill de Blasio said, “New Yorkers have stepped up tremendously over the past year — we are leading the way on vaccinations, we have reopened safely, and every day we work toward building a recovery for all of us. There is a lot to celebrate and these additional safety measures will keep the fully vaccinated crowd safe and healthy as we ring in the New Year.”