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KC health officials react to mass gatherings planned for New Year's Eve

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Posted at 7:36 PM, Dec 31, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-31 21:01:35-05

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Local health officials are concerned as mass gatherings are planned to take place for New Year’s Eve festivities.

Frank Thompson with the Kansas City, Missouri, Health Department says doctors are expecting surges in COVID-19 cases following weeks of holiday celebrations. He hopes people will opt for safer, smaller gatherings.

“If you were going to go into gatherings, remember to try to wear masks and to maintain your distance," Thompson said. "And hopefully you’ve been vaccinated — that would really be the safest course if you are planning to attend any of these holiday gatherings."

Thompson hopes for a more “normal” New Year’s Eve for 2023, but for the time being, the threat of the delta and omicron variants is real and imminent.

One friend group from Kansas City decided to get creative in how they ring in 2022.

Heather Tupin and her three friends started early Friday morning and planned to visit 22 iconic Kansas City landmarks. They started at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium and will do their final toast overlooking the skyline at the World War I Memorial.

“It’s nice that we know each other. We try to keep our activities just the four of us," Tupin said. "So being able to do this, and being able to do almost all of it outside, has really given us a sense of comfort. Be safe, have fun and may 2022 be a better year for all of us.”

One of the biggest New Year’s Eve celebrations NYE Live! will be happening at the Power and Light District Friday night. Event details on Facebook show over 2,000 people are interested in attending the evening’s event.

Some Kansas City residents and visitors from out of town have advice for their neighbors.

“Wear your mask, get vaccinated if you’re not, a booster if you want,” Tanisha Dawson said.

Visiting from Texas, Brian Gerstenkorn believes it's important to remember those who are vulnerable.

“If you are not feeling well, stay home. If you are feeling alright, things like that, just kind of be safe after the fact," Gerstenkorn said. "If you don’t feel good the next couple of days, try to find a test or try to stay away from people who are vulnerable."

No other COVID-19 safety protocols were posted on the event website, but a spokesperson with Power and Light did tell KSHB 41 News earlier in the week Friday’s event will be more spread out than years past.

Walnut Street will be closed to the public to allow more room for food trucks and restrooms, and more space heaters will be put in place to encourage people to mingle outdoors.