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'Nobody wants to put a damper on the fun festivities' | COVID concerns force some local New Year's Eve events to go virtual

Events in areas like Alexandria, Falls Church, and Vienna have been canceled as a result of surging COVID cases in the region.

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — More venues and clubs around the region announced New Year's Eve event cancellations on Tuesday as the omicron variant continued to bring surging COVID numbers and health concerns.

Black Cat, Public Bar, and Sauf Haus Bier Hall all announced that their events would not happen on Thursday night due to the rising number of COVID cases in the district.

Across the region, recent data on the virus has shown concerning trends. 

Nearly 82% of in-patient beds are currently in use and nearly 72% of ICU beds are in use in Maryland, according to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). 

In the District, the same data shows 64% of in-patient beds are in use and nearly 76% of ICU beds are occupied. Local health officials reported 9,200 cases of COVID-19 over Christmas weekend

In Virginia, the recent numbers led Alexandria officials to cancel the annual First Night event.

"Nobody wants to cancel or have to put a damper on these fun festivities," said Dr. Anne Gaddy of the Alexandria Health Department. "The basic reasoning is that we don’t want to add to that very high transmission by putting a lot of people indoors.”

New Year's Eve events were also canceled in Falls Church and Vienna.

Gaddy told WUSA9 on Tuesday that not having the festivities could help avoid outbreaks from getting worse around the area.

"We don’t want to get to the point where, because there are so many cases, the hospitalizations are overwhelming the hospital's capacity to be able to take care of people," she said. "We don’t want to see staffing shortages because of COVID for hospitals, for police, fire, teachers.”

While First Night events will not be happening, Alexandria organizers said the fireworks display over the Potomac will still go on as scheduled.

They will begin at midnight and will be visible from multiple vantage points along the Alexandria waterfront to allow plenty of space for physical distancing from others.

According to city data, Alexandria reported 268 new cases of COVID on Tuesday after 376 were reported on Christmas. 

In a recent interview with CNN, Dr. Anthony Fauci of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases advised people to avoid large indoor gatherings for the holiday.

"When you’re talking about a New Year's Eve party where you have 30, 40, 50 people celebrating and you do not know the status of their vaccination, I would recommend strongly stay away from that this year," he said. 

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Credit: The Kennedy Center

Other event organizers made last-minute changes to their programs to allow families to still safely celebrate.

The Kennedy Center's "A Jazz New Year's Eve" will take place tonight. All attendees must show proof they are vaccinated. 

In addition, masks will be required at all times during the performance.

"Children under 12 who are vaccinated, can show proof of vaccination for entry. Children under 12 who are not vaccinated, and unvaccinated patrons must provide proof of a negative COVID-19 PCR test no more than 72 hours prior to attending an indoor performance or proof of a professionally administered Antigen test (no home tests) conducted no more than 6 hours prior to attending an indoor performance," the Kennedy Center posted online.

If you are looking for something fun to do with the family, take the kids to the Maryland Science Center for the midnight noon event.

There will be festive activities to help families celebrate and the event will end with a ball drop at noon.

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