LOS ANGELES - Event organizers are moving to cancel, postpone or move their events to a virtual setting due to the omicron variant, and the rise in COVID-19 cases.
Omicron has raced ahead of other variants and is now the dominant version of the coronavirus in the U.S., accounting for 73% of new infections last week, federal health officials said Monday.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention numbers showed nearly a six-fold increase in omicron's share of infections in only one week.
The Associated Press reports the NHL is now shutting down from Wednesday through Christmas Day on Saturday due to COVID-19. The latest on-ice (or off-ice) development comes as NHL sees an increase of positive test results among players across the league.
- NHL shutting down from Wednesday through Saturday due to COVID
- Ducks, Kings affected as NHL pauses all games between U.S., Canadian teams
The large NYE event in downtown LA at Grand Park is also canceling its live audience for the celebration due to the variant. "We made the very hard decision over the weekend to remove the live audience portion of this year's NYE LA after a lot of deliberation, and really just deciding this was the safest road to go after the emerging and ever changing news about the new variant," said Julia Diamond, the Director of Grand Park.
The New Year's Eve celebration was last conducted in 2019. Last year's event was also virtual due to pandemic concerns.
This year, the celebration was supposed to feature 5,000 first responders to honor them for their service. The event normally holds 75,000 people pre-pandemic. However, due to the variant, organizers decided the event will only be virtual.
"We decided even though that was a smaller audience where we would have been requiring vaccinations, recent tests and masking, we just felt like with everything going on, the safest road to go is to encourage people to watch the show at home," said Diamond.
While there will no longer be a live audience, the event will be produced as a broadcast and streamed program as previously planned and will be accessible to everyone on Fuse and on Grand Park’s YouTube channel at 11 p.m. PST on Friday, December 31, 2021.
Performances for A Christmas Carol at the Ahmanson Theatre in downtown Los Angeles through Dec. 26 have been canceled after additional breakthrough cases were detected within the company, the Center Theatre Group announced. Performances are scheduled to resume on Dec. 28.
Omicron is responsible for an estimated 90% or more of new infections in the New York area, the Southeast, the industrial Midwest and the Pacific Northwest. The national rate suggests that more than 650,000 omicron infections occurred in the U.S. last week.
Since the end of June, the delta variant had been the main version causing U.S. infections. As recently as the end of November, more than 99.5% of coronaviruses were delta, according to CDC data.