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COVID-19 derails New Years Eve event at Grand Park



A growing list of holiday events in Los Angeles County has been canceled or postponed amid a growing wave of COVID-19 cases linked to the Omicron variant.

For the second year in a row, the New Year’s Eve countdown celebration in Grand Park in downtown LA only went to streaming after park officials said it was too risky to gather in person.

The event, which is run by the Music Center, was to include an invite-only audience of frontline workers and county first responders.

“Given the recent increase in COVID-19 cases in the county, the Music Center / Grand Park team have determined that the safest route to continue this popular annual tradition would be to eliminate a live audience,” officials said.

The celebration will air on Fuse and stream to Grand Park’s YouTube channel starting at 11 p.m. on December 31.

The decision comes as LA County experiences some of its highest daily coronavirus case counts in months. The county public health department reported 3,512 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday, up from 1,460 a week ago.

Hospitalizations are also on the rise. There are 743 patients in LA County hospitals with a confirmed case of the coronavirus – an increase of about 25% from two weeks ago, according to the Times tracker.

Grand Park isn’t the only place to make changes: The NFL has postponed the Rams’ scheduled Sunday game at SoFi Stadium until Tuesday due to a coronavirus outbreak that ravaged its roster, officials said.

Two Anaheim Ducks games scheduled against Edmonton and Vancouver were postponed indefinitely amid concerns about “cross-border travel,” according to the National Hockey League.

Meanwhile, the UCLA men’s basketball game against North Carolina was called off this weekend due to “COVID-19 developments within the Bruins’ program,” the university said, and all other teams related to UCLA activities have been suspended.

Upcoming performances of “The Nutcracker” at Royce Hall at the university were also canceled after cases of breakthrough among the actors, as were performances of “A Christmas Carol” at the Ahmanson Theater in downtown LA

Residents are also changing their plans amid the spread of the Omicron variant, with reports of canceled travel, party and visit plans. Some experts say it would be prudent to make any adjustments.

“Case rates and daily hospitalizations are rising steadily, and we expect them to continue to rise,” Los Angeles County Director of Public Health Barbara Ferrer said last week. “If we don’t take some common sense safety precautions now, we could end up in a dangerous place by the end of the month and into January.”

Dr Anthony Fauci, President Biden’s chief medical adviser on the pandemic, said on Sunday the country should prepare for sharp increases in hospitalizations and deaths, especially in areas with low vaccination rates, due to the spread of Omicron.

“We’re going to see significant stress in parts of the country on the hospital system, especially in areas where you have low immunization levels,” he told CNN.