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Infectious disease expert weighs in on how to stay safe at large NYE events

LIST: Middle Tennessee Firework Shows
Posted at 6:43 PM, Dec 29, 2021

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — As the music note drops in Downtown Nashville for New Years Eve, Dr. William Schaffner is worried about COVID cases moving in the opposite direction.

"Omicron is undoubtedly, undoubtedly more contagious than was Delta," he said.

For New Year revelry and the Music City Bowl, Dr. Schaffner takes comfort in the fact they're outdoors.

"Outside events are always at lower risk than indoor events. You didn’t hear me say, no risk. They’re at lower risk, so even if it’s outdoors, please, come vaccinated and bring your mask," said Schaffner.

He says masks can be used for added protection outside and should be a must if any celebrations move indoors. "Certainly if I’m in a crowd somewhere in an interior space, I’d want to put on that mask," he said.

Especially indoors, he urges anyone throwing a party or hosting an event to require proof of vaccine or a recent negative COVID test. He applauds the city of Nashville for requiring that for the big bash at Bicentennial Mall.

"Sure, that’s just good common sense," said Schaffner.

The reason being, while the omicron variant is a fast spreader, it's believed to be a milder illness, at least for those who are vaccinated.

"It seems to cause less severe disease among the vaccinated. Among the unvaccinated, it can still put you in the hospital. And the majority of patients we’re seeing hospitalized today are still unvaccinated folks," he said.

The hope being, you can ring in a new year without bringing any illness with you. "We don’t want these celebratory events to become super spreading events," said Schaffner.