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Goodbye, 2020! Medical experts advise safe NYE celebrations

Posted at 3:51 PM, Dec 30, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-31 12:47:25-05

IDAHO — The year 2020 is finally coming to a close, and yes, we all want to celebrate. Unfortunately, experts say this New Year's Eve is not the time to gather with groups of people since the pandemic is still ongoing.

Many are excited to celebrate the end of 2020, but you may want to cancel if you have plans for a big gathering.

"We're getting to the end of what's been a tough year for people. Personally, financially, medically, it's just been tough so there are many people out there who say, 'Ok, 2020 is finally over. Moving onto a new year,'" Regence Executive Medical Director Joe Badolato said.

According to TSA, over half a million people traveled through a TSA checkpoint on Christmas. If they were exposed to COVID-19 while traveling, they could be contagious at a New Year's Eve celebration.

"As that timeline of COVID plays out. You may be exposed on day one of your travel, but might not have symptoms until day 10 or 14 and still be contagious for that entire stretch. Obviously that 10–14-day window does encompass New Year's," St. Luke's Medical Director for Urgent Care, Martha Taylor, said.

Due to cold weather, New Year's Eve celebrations are typically held indoors, but that's creating concerns over the need for social distancing and mask-wearing.

"Most New Year's Eve celebrations involve eating and drinking, which again you cannot do safely in a mask," Taylor said. "It would be fantastic if we're able to keep these small gatherings where you're still having fun, still calling or videoing with your friends and family and try to push for the greater good just for this next stretch, and then I think we will be in the clear thereafter," Taylor said.

To safely celebrate the new year, some ways are to do a virtual gathering and even a virtual cheers to 2021 with family and friends.

If putting together a virtual celebration seems like too much work, it might be worth it in the long run.

"We're social creatures, and it's really critical, especially at this time with rising rates of depression and anxiety, that people still find some way to connect with those people they love, their friends whether it's virtual or getting together in a safe manner. I think human connection is critical," Badolato said.