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New Year, Same Pandemic: The Last Hurrah 2022

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Over the holiday weekend, the Utah Department of Health reported 4,607 new Covid-19 cases. Local officials are encouraging people to be cautious about their New Year's gatherings.

The Gateway mall’s annual New Year's Eve celebration the ‘Last Hurrah’ will take place Friday in Salt Lake City, amid rising COVID-19 cases.

The street festival brings thousands of people downtown to countdown the new year with live music and street vendors lining the plaza.

Jacklyn Briggs, marketing director for The Gateway, said there will be fewer restrictions with vaccines now widely available.

“We are strongly encouraging everyone [to] wear masks to the event,” Briggs said. “All of our staff, which includes security and the bartenders, will all be masked up, and we will have extra hand sanitation stations all throughout the event.”

There will be no vaccine mandate or social distancing guidelines, though Briggs said they are encouraged.

Last year, the event was filled with reserved areas, enforced social distancing and face masks. She said since the event will take place outdoors, it is deemed generally safer.

Local artists like DJ Justin Cornwall, The Rubies and brother are set to headline the event.

Charla Haley, public information officer for the Utah Department of Health, said it’s important to assess health risks when attending holiday celebrations and plan accordingly.

During the long holiday weekend, the state reported 4,607 new COVID-19 cases. The seven-day case average has increased by 180 since last week It now stands at an average of 1,158 positive cases a day.

“The more people who get the virus, the more chance it has to mutate, and the more mutations we have, the more variants we have,” Haley said. “The best thing that you can do is make sure you get your vaccine and get a booster dose, if you're able to. And just be smart about your gatherings.”

Haley encouraged people to wear their masks in large public gatherings even if they are vaccinated for an added layer of protection.

Both Briggs and Haley also encouraged people who feel sick to stay home.

Ivana is a general assignment reporter
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