Most large New Year’s Eve events in the United States have been canceled or diminished, as the nation shattered its record for new daily coronavirus cases on Wednesday. But Chicago, Las Vegas and San Antonio are a few of the anomalies, having neither scrapped nor pared back their plans.
In Las Vegas, city officials say that they expect more than 300,000 people on the Strip and downtown for the return — after a one-year hiatus — of New Year’s Eve fireworks. Masks remain required indoors, but face coverings and social distancing are optional outdoors.
“We have to get back the best we can to having normal lives,” Mayor Carolyn Goodman said on Wednesday at a news briefing.
Clark County, which contains Las Vegas, is averaging about 1,255 new cases a day, more than double the average from two weeks ago, according to a New York Times database. About 53 percent of adults in the county are fully vaccinated.
Revelers in San Antonio are also returning to ring in 2022, after last year’s events were canceled in downtown’s Riverwalk because of the pandemic. The event, Celebrate SA, did not suffer from cancellations, despite a steady rise in Covid cases in the city attributed to the Omicron variant.
Crowds are expected to descend on La Villita and the area surrounding the Hemisfair park, including the Tower of the Americas, to enjoy live music and a fireworks show. Officials had said they felt outdoor spaces provided fewer opportunities for new infections.
Ron Nirenberg, the mayor of San Antonio, urged residents to wear masks in crowded places and get vaccinated as precautionary measures.
“When in doubt, mask up, especially in large crowds or when you don’t know the vaccination status of the people you’re with,” Mr. Nirenberg said.
Omicron accounted for about 25 percent of all new infections in Texas during the week of Dec. 11, according to the state’s health department. A week later that figure ballooned to about 85 percent.
Chicago will have a downtown fireworks display, even as cases in the city have soared to record levels. The fireworks will be launched at eight sites along a 1.5-mile stretch of Lake Michigan and the Chicago River, where several businesses have arranged viewing parties.
“Importantly, the display can be viewed outdoors where the spread of Covid-19 is less likely, so our residents and visitors should feel comfortable while masking up and social distancing or even watching safely from home,” Mayor Lori Lightfoot said in a statement.
An indoor mask mandate remains in place in Chicago. Next week, a vaccine mandate will take effect for people wishing to dine indoors or visit gyms.