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Doctor gives advice on celebrating New Year's Eve amid omicron concerns

Dr. Jennifer Vines said being vaccinated and getting a booster is crucial for protecting yourself against the virus while celebrating the holiday.

PORTLAND, Ore. — If people decide to head out to celebrate New Year's Eve this Friday, Multnomah County Health Officer Dr. Jennifer Vines said they should assume they'll be exposed to COVID-19.

"We are just at the beginning of what we are thinking will be a steady climb of cases and hospitalizations because of the Omicron variant," she said.

Vines said more and more cases of COVID are popping up every day because of the highly transmissible omicron variant. If you're going to a party or an event this weekend, the risk will still be there.

"That risk is going to go up the larger the gathering and more people you interact with," Vines said. "It's going to go down in risk as the gatherings become smaller."

Being vaccinated and getting a booster shot is crucial. If you live or work around more vulnerable people and plan to celebrate this weekend, Vines has some advice.

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"If you're going to go and have a party for New Year's, keep a low profile, maybe not be around that [vulnerable] person for at least five days after that COVID exposure," Vines said. 

When it comes to New Year's Eve events, the long-running Champagne Ball has been canceled due to COVID and staffing issues. Founder Mathew Weber said it was a tough decision to cancel.

"Too many unknowns, we had questions about a new variant, and the possibility of that and how that would affect attendance," Weber said. "It's also a very tight labor market right now."

There are other events around Portland with safety protocols people must follow. At the New Year's Eve Cruise Party, organizers require proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test within 72 hours. 

RELATED: Washington health officials discuss COVID-19 pandemic as omicron variant surges