Live updates: Coronavirus pandemic and Omicron variant

With the spike in Covid-19 cases, experts are urging Americans to practice caution as they celebrate the new year.

Revelers should skip big indoor New Year’s Eve parties, said Dr. Jonathan Reiner, professor of medicine and surgery at George Washington University.

“We’re in the public health crisis of our lifetime,” Reiner told CNN’s Phil Mattingly on Thursday. And New York City’s Times Square New Year’s Eve celebration “should have been canceled,” in part because attendees might “pack the subways” to get there, he said. The event has been scaled back, with fewer revelers and everyone required to wear a mask.

The Omicron variant “is extraordinarily contagious, and if you are in a crowd now, and certainly if you’re unvaccinated, you are at great risk of contracting this virus,” Reiner told CNN’s Jake Tapper on Wednesday.

A small celebration at a friend’s house should be OK if everyone is vaccinated and boosted and tested negative before the party, he said. Big outdoor parties are less risky unless they’re crowded.

“I would not eat in a restaurant now without a mask,” Reiner said Thursday. “I would absolutely not go into a bar.”

People should avoid large New Year’s Eve gatherings where they don’t know the vaccination status of guests, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said. Small gatherings of vaccinated family or close friends are safe, he said.

“When you are talking about a New Year’s Eve party, where you have 30, 40, 50 people celebrating, you do not know the status of the vaccination — I would recommend strongly, stay away from that this year. There will be other years to do that, but not this year,” Fauci told Fox News.

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