'Please stay home' on New Year's Eve if you're sick, doctor begs

Posted at 6:32 PM, Dec 29, 2021

RICHMOND, Va. -- As 2022 nears and COVID-19 cases continue to surge across Central Virginia, health officials are urging folks to use caution and potentially cancel plans for New Year's celebrations.

The warning comes as Virginia reported the biggest increase in COVID-19 cases (12,112) in a single day during the pandemic Wednesday.

Virginia breaks record with 12,100+ new COVID-19 cases in single day on Dec. 29, 2021.

RELATED: County-by-county look at COVID-19 cases in Virginia; which areas saw biggest spikes Wednesday

Dr. Julia Murphy with the Virginia Department of Health said events can be broken down into three risk categories: low, medium and high.

"I would generally recommend you avoid or think carefully about high-risk events and your participation in them," Murphy said.

Low-risk events include virtual or ones with those you live with, while medium-risk ones include indoor events with fully vaccinated people or outdoor gatherings if you do not know them, according to the health department.And high-risk events are indoors with people with an unknown vaccine status or where people are close together cheering or celebrating loudly.

"Really try to focus on those lower risk types of events," Murphy urged. "We'd also ask people to keep in mind that layering prevention strategies is always better than just relying on one."

Some of those strategies include masking, testing before and after, and getting the vaccine or booster.

RELATED: Virginia Department of Health Relative Risk for Social Gatherings and Events

A "Happy New Year" hat lies on the wet ground along with other items following the celebration in New York's Times Square, early Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2019. (AP Photo/Tina Fineberg)

Additionally, Murphy asked anyone with symptoms like a fever, cough, sore throat or muscle aches to stay home and get tested.

"We would very much recommend to anyone that you not attend a social gathering, if you're feeling unwell," Murphy urged. "No matter what you're doing on New Year's Eve, if you're not feeling well, please, please stay home."

Elegba Folklore Society.jpg
Elegba Folklore Society

Moreover, some businesses and event organizers have decided to cancel plans because of the surge.

In fact, the Elegba Folklore Society (EFS) canceled its Kwanzaa celebration slated for Thursday. Officials said they had precautions in place, but changed their minds as the numbers kept rising.

"It's unfortunate all the way around. We had a wonderful program planned out," EFS President and Artistic Director Janine Bell said. "If we just had that one incident, it would just put a damper on everything and so that's when the risk became too great."

Bell said because the decision was made so close to the event time they were not able to pivot to a virtual format and are encouraging people to watch their 2020 virtual celebration on their YouTube page.

Puppets Off Broad Street made a similar call and canceled its week-long RVA Winter Puppetfest, taking into account the ages of the event's primary audience.

"Really that like age three to 11 space, you know, some of whom could be vaccinated, they're not fully vaccinated, and many of them can't be vaccinated," RVA Winter Puppetfest Artistic Director Heidi Rugg said. "Given all the other cancellations that have been happening, it seems like that was the right decision to make."

Rugg said while they were unable to shift to a virtual format, anyone who had bought tickets for their event was given access to a virtual event being put on by a theater in Boston.

Mass COVID-19 vaccination clinic at Richmond Raceway.

Virginians age 5+ are eligible for COVID-19 vaccine. Pre-registration is no longer required,so go to Vaccine Finderto search for specific vaccines available near you or call 877-VAX-IN-VA (877-275-8343).

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Have You Been Fully Vaccinated?

People are considered fully vaccinated:

  • 2 weeks after their second dose in a 2-dose series, such as the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, or
  • 2 weeks after a single-dose vaccine, such as Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccine
What you can and should not do once you have been fully vaccinated.

How to Protect Yourself and Others When You’ve Been Fully Vaccinated

COVID-19 vaccines are effective at protecting you from getting sick. Based on what we know about COVID-19 vaccines, people who have been fully vaccinated can start to do some things that they had stopped doing because of the pandemic.

We’re still learning how vaccines will affect the spread of COVID-19. After you’ve been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, you should keep taking precautions—like wearing a mask, staying 6 feet apart from others, and avoiding crowds and poorly ventilated spaces—in public places until we know more.

These recommendations can help you make decisions about daily activities after you are fully vaccinated. They are not intended for healthcare settings.

Click here for more information from the Virginia Department of Health.