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U.S. rings in New Year with Covid surge, scaled back celebrations and travel woes

U.S. rings in New Year with Covid surge, scaled back celebrations and travel woes

The United States welcomed 2022 amid yet another record for daily coronavirus cases, scaled-back New Year’s Eve celebrations and travel plans disrupted because of the pandemic. 

The U.S. marked a record 584,545 new coronavirus cases Thursday in a week when the country broke new case records for three days straight, according to an NBC News data analysis. On Thursday, the seven-day rolling average of new daily coronavirus cases was a record 342,768, the third day in a row of a record seven-day average.

Before this week, the highest 7-day average was Jan. 11, 2021 at 257,583.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the omicron variant accounted for 58.6 percent of all Covid cases in the country in the week ending Dec. 25, while the delta variant accounted for 41.1 percent of cases.

By Friday afternoon, there were more than 1,400 flight cancellations within, into or out of the United States with more than 2,880 cancellations worldwide, according to the tracking website FlightAware. That compared with about 1,400 U.S. cancellations for all of Thursday, The Associated Press reported, adding total U.S. cancellations since Christmas Eve have totaled above 9,000.

Thousands of flights have been canceled amid ongoing holiday travel chaos, with airlines blaming the spread of the omicron variant and adverse weather conditions for the disruptions.

New York City, where there are a record number of Covid cases amid the nationwide surge, welcomed 2022 with a scaled-back celebration in Times Square after revelers were banned last year. 

Photos: Muted celebrations ring in new year around the world

“We want to show that we’re moving forward, and we want to show the world that New York City is fighting our way through this,” Mayor Bill de Blasio, whose last day in office is Friday, said Thursday on the “TODAY” Show. The mayor cited the city’s high vaccination rate as a reason a restricted number of revelers in masks could witness the celebration this year. 

The city capped attendance at 15,000, a far cry from the tens of thousands in the years before the pandemic that would mark the New Year in Times Square to watch the ball drop.

Meanwhile, officials in Atlanta canceled the ​​New Year’s Eve Peach Drop for a third year in a row.

“In consultation with public health officials, we have made the very difficult decision to cancel the Peach Drop,” Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said in a statement this week. “As positive Covid-19 cases rise, I encourage everyone to be safe, get vaccinated and follow CDC guidelines.”

And San Francisco canceled this year’s New Year’s Eve fireworks show because of the wave of cases.

“While we are all understandably eager to ring in a new year with San Francisco’s customary New Year’s Eve fireworks show, we must remain vigilant in doing all we can to stop the spread of the COVID-19 Omicron variant,” Mayor London Breed said in a statement this week. “By canceling the New Year’s Eve fireworks show we are reducing everyone’s exposure to Covid-19, while ensuring continuity of citywide public safety operations.

Daniella Silva is a reporter for NBC News focusing on the economic recovery and its effect on families, as well as immigration.

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