COVID-19 casts bleak shadow over NYE celebrations

New Years Eve might look a lot like last year… with COVID-19 stifling celebrations around the world.

Global coronavirus infections hit a record high over the past seven-day period, according to Reuters data, with almost one million cases detected on average each day between Dec. 23 and 29.

In an attempt to slow the rapid spread of the Omicron variant, traditional concerts and firework displays that typically draw thousands of people were canceled in most major cities, including London, Paris and Rome.

For the second year in a row, New Year's Eve in New York’s Times Square – an event that usually attracts some 60,000 people - will be a scaled-back event for 15,000 people.

Although studies have suggested Omicron is less deadly than some previous variants, many health officials are urging caution. Especially among the unvaccinated.

In Paris, local authorities mandated mask-wearing on the streets starting Friday. And residents were divided over the necessity of doing so:

SHOPKEEPER, CHRISTINE MERCIER: "Do we have a choice? We are not given a choice. Personally, I don't like wearing the mask, but I don't know many people who do, frankly."

In the U.S. - health experts warned Americans that a rising tide of COVID cases threatens major disruptions to their lives, from schools to shopping, and urged them to prepare now for a challenging month ahead.

Long lines for testing has become commonplace in many major U.S. cities - like at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway this week.

For the second day in a row, the U.S. had a record number of new cases based on the seven-day average, a Reuters tally showed. And COVID-19 hospitalizations rose 27 percent, driven by Americans not yet vaccinated.

Some 820,000 people have died in the U.S. from COVID since early 2020.

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