Let the countdown begin: Revelers line up in NYC’s Times Square to ring in 2022 at de Blasio’s last hurrah – hours after Empire State saw record 76,555 COVID cases
Partygoers have begun arriving at New York City‘s Times Square for its annual New Year’s celebrations – as the Empire State recorded a record 76,555 new COVID cases.
Spectators were seen preparing for tonight’s world-famous ball drop in Times Square from Friday afternoon, although it will be a reduced crowd after outgoing Mayor Bill de Blasio confirmed last week that the typical crowd of 58,000 spectators will be cut down to just 15,000. They’ll all have to show proof of COVID vaccines and wear masks.
They’ll be penned in for the duration of the event, and are unable to leave without forfeiting their place in the enclosure. Those who last the duration will be treated to a performance by singer KT Tunstall, best known for her hit Suddenly I See, with rapper LL Cool J dropping out of performing earlier this week due to a positive COVID test.
This comes as the U.S. hit a new high for new daily COVID cases with 647,067 average daily cases reported on Thursday, breaking its previous record of 489,267 reported on Wednesday, according to a DailyMail.com analysis of John Hopkins data.
The New Year’s Eve Ball is illuminated and elevated near a ‘2022 is here’ sign for a final test ahead of New Year’s Eve on Friday
Teddy, a 12-year-old miniature poodle wearing 2022 glasses, sits on West 47th Street ahead of New Year’s Eve celebrations at Times Square on Friday afternoon
Revelers take photos with Times Square staple The Naked Cowboy as they prepare for tonight’s ball drop to ring in 2022
The crowd starts getting pumped up, including a man who pulls down his mask to cheer ahead of tonight’s New Year Eve celebrations in Times Square
Revelers wait in social distancing pens in Times Square ahead of celebrating New Year’s Eve on Friday as crowds begin to form
A couple wearing face masks and funky hats look on ahead of New Year’s Eve celebrations at Times Square on Friday
People gather at the security entrance in Times Square ahead of New Year’s Eve celebrations. Revelers are required to show proof of vaccination and be masked
An NYPD officer performs a security check on a person at Times Square before tonight’s New Year’s Eve celebrations
NYPD officers perform security checks in Times Square where 15,000 revelers will ring in the New Year by watching the ball drop
According to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), anywhere from 40 to 70 percent of new cases in America are of the Omicron variant, which was first discovered last month by South African health officials.
The U.S. is now averaging 300,387 new Covid cases per day, a pandemic record and the first time the 300,000 mark has been reached in America.
New York state recorded 76,500 COVID cases on Friday, up from yesterday’s record of 67,000, governor Kathy Hochul announced.
Currently there are 3,925 New Yorkers in hospital and 80 people died yesterday from Covid, the governor said.
People wear their 2022 glasses as they prepare to ring in the new year at the world-famous Times Square ball drop
Spectators flash the peace sign while wearing their face masks, 2022 glasses and festive hats as they prepare to ring in the new year
An NYPD officer stands next to a signage encouraging people to wear masks ahead of New Year’s Eve celebrations at Times Square as COVID-19 infections rise nationwide
An empty Times Square that will soon be packed with 15,000 spectators who will watch the ball drop to celebrate the new year
Final preparations and set up for tonight’s New Year’s Eve celebrations in Times Square amid a huge Omicron surge that has overtaken New York City
People being gathering at West 47th Street ahead of New Year’s Eve celebrations in Times Square, a huge tourist attraction that brings thousands of people to NYC every year
NYPD officers stand guard at Times Square ahead of tonight’s New Year’s Eve celebrations expected to bring out 15.000 revelers
But that is not stopping revelers, who typically come from all over the world, from watching the ball drop in person.
De Blasio announced safety guidelines for spectators, including no entry before 3 pm and proof of vaccination and face masks, despite the event being held outdoors.
Tonight’s ball drop will be the final big event of his second term in office, with Eric Adams taking over tomorrow.
‘I don’t believe in shutdowns,’ de Blasio told the Today show on Thursday. ‘We have to fight our way through this.’ De Blasio’s statement is in sharp contrast to his actions taken during the pandemic, when New York City shut down for months in 2020.
At last year’s ball drop, the city and the Times Square Alliance held a fully masked celebration without the huge crowds revelers are used to seeing each year.
Mayor-elect Eric Adams also doubled down on the New Year’s celebration, announcing that he will hold his swearing-in ceremony during the festivities after canceling his in-person inauguration that was set for Saturday.