NewsLocal NewsCoronavirus


Is it safe to celebrate New Year's Eve with others? Infectious disease expert shares his thoughts

'You need to limit the group size you're going to be involved with," Dr. Olayemi Osiyemi says
Posted at 3:46 PM, Dec 31, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-31 17:43:53-05

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — If you're planning to have a night on the town, head to parties or join in on other group settings to ring in 2022, local doctors have some tips for you to consider to make sure you kick off the next year in good health.

Doctors want you to consider how you can safely celebrate while the highly-contagious omicron variant continues to spread.

"It's the perfect storm. This omicron coming up right before the holidays," said Dr. Olayemi Osiyemi, the medical director of infectious disease at St. Mary's Medical Center in West Palm Beach.


He said people can and should still celebrate the new year but keep up their guard.

"Even if you're vaccinated, that doesn't absolutely protect you 100% from getting the omicron variant," Osiyemi said.

Dr. Olayemi Osiyemi speaks about celebrating New Year's Eve safely
Dr. Olayemi Osiyemi says home COVID-19 tests are not 100% effective at detecting omicron.

He said while in any group setting to assume someone is positive with the virus, and protect yourself accordingly.

"It's OK to be with your family, but you need to limit the group size you're going to be involved with," Osiyemi said.

MORE: Which type of COVID test is most accurate when it comes to detecting omicron?

Drive-thru COVID testing sites around our area have been packed with people looking for a last-minute negative test.

But Osiyemi said to remember not all negative tests are reliable.

He advises you to check in with everyone you plan to be around and see if they have symptoms.

"I think the rapid test is a good test. It's not perfect. The home test is definitely not always great against omicron. If you have a negative home test, you cannot guarantee you're not already affected," Osiyemi said.

If you're planning on a house party, dinner out or slightly larger group, keep your space and try to celebrate outdoors. Also, urge anyone with even mild symptoms to be honest and stay home.

New Year's Day 2022 Bangkok
Fireworks explode over the Chao Phraya River during New Year celebrations in Bangkok, Thailand, Saturday, Jan. 1, 2022.

"People who are not feeling well don't want to miss the party of the year, and they'll still show up not telling you they have symptoms," Osiyemi said.

But he knows that some people will still head to packed bars, the biggest parties and other large celebrations.

You should always assume someone in the crowd is sick.

Wear a mask, don't crowd with others at the bar and don't share food or drinks. As always, celebrating outside is safer than indoors.

Most of all, don't let yourself be the spreader and set the example.

"If you know you're not feeling well, don't go out. Don't go hanging out with other people," Osiyemi said.

He said the incubation period for the virus can be two to 14 days but expects most people to experience symptoms within five days if they are exposed to the virus.