Organizers of the annual New Year’s Eve Times Square ball drop lit up the seven-foot-tall 2022 numerals on Monday.
The lit numbers will remain on a plaza in Times Square for a few days before being relocated to the top of the One Times Square building ahead of New Year’s Eve.
The fate of the annual New Year’s Eve celebration in Times Square will be decided this week.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said Sunday a decision will be made by Christmas on whether to hold the event as in previous years before the pandemic, now that the omicron variant is spreading rapidly through the city and officials are scrambling to increase testing capacity amid heightened demand.
Last year’s New Year’s Eve celebration in Times Square was a socially distanced affair, attended by small groups of essential workers. This November, de Blasio announced the event would come back “full strength” with a requirement that attendees show proof of vaccination and those unable to be vaccinated because of a disability show proof of a negative COVID-19 test.
De Blasio called omicron a “fast, temporary phenomenon” that is expected to surge in the next few weeks then likely dissipate. He noted that most city residents are vaccinated, making the recent outbreak more manageable than when COVID-19 first appeared in early spring 2020.
According to city statistics, about 90% of adults and about 80% of all residents have received at least one vaccine dose.
For the third straight day on Sunday, New York state had a record number of new COVID-19 cases — nearly 22,500. About 12,400 of those new cases were in New York City. The state has been averaging about 16,300 new cases per day in the seven-day period that ended Saturday. That’s 60% higher than the previous week.