A growing list of holiday events in Los Angeles County have been canceled or postponed amid a burgeoning wave of coronavirus cases tied to the Omicron variant.
For the second year in a row, the New Year’s Eve countdown celebration in downtown L.A.’s Grand Park has transitioned to streaming-only after park officials said it was too risky to congregate in person.
The event, which is operated by the Music Center, had been slated to include an invite-only audience of the county’s front-line workers and first responders.
“Given the recent uptick in COVID-19 cases in the county, the Music Center/Grand Park team determined the safest route to continue with this popular annual tradition would be to eliminate a live audience,” event officials said.
The celebration will be broadcast on Fuse and streamed on Grand Park’s YouTube channel beginning at 11 p.m. Dec. 31.
The decision arrives as L.A. County is experiencing some of its highest daily coronavirus case numbers in months. On Sunday, the county’s public health department reported 3,512 new coronavirus cases — up from 1,460 a week ago.
Hospitalizations also are climbing. There are 741 patients in L.A. County hospitals with a confirmed case of COVID-19 — an increase of about 18% from two weeks ago, according to The Times’ tracker.
The Music Center on Monday also announced that the live audience portion of the 62nd annual L.A. County Holiday Celebration has been canceled “due to an abundance of caution.”
The program was set to take place Friday in front of a large crowd at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, but instead will be broadcast live on PBC SoCal and streamed online beginning at 3 p.m., officials said. In previous years, the event drew as many as 6,000 people to the pavilion during its three-hour program.
Other event-planners are making similar adjustments amid the rapidly changing circumstances. The NFL postponed Sunday’s scheduled Rams game at SoFi Stadium until Tuesday because of a coronavirus outbreak that ravaged its roster, officials said.
Two Anaheim Ducks’ games slated against Edmonton and Vancouver were postponed indefinitely amid concerns about “cross-border travel,” according to the National Hockey League.
Meanwhile, UCLA’s men’s basketball game against North Carolina was canceled over the weekend because of “COVID-19 developments within the Bruins’ program,” the university said, and all other UCLA team-related activities have been paused. Long Beach State also has canceled several basketball games due to COVID-19 protocols.
Upcoming performances of “The Nutcracker” at UCLA’s Royce Hall also were canceled after breakthrough cases among the cast, as were performances of “A Christmas Carol” at the Ahmanson Theatre in downtown L.A.
The Palm Springs International Film Festival’s awards gala, slated for Jan. 6, also has been canceled “due to a recent spike in COVID-19 cases and out of an abundance of caution to ensure the health and safety of honorees, patrons and staff,” officials announced Monday. The awards event typically sees more than 2,500 guests and 1,000 staff members in one room.
The American Film Institute announced Monday that its AFI Awards luncheon at the Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills would be postponed from its original Jan. 7 date. Ten outstanding films and 10 outstanding TV shows are honored at the annual event, along with several special award recipients. No new date was given.
“The goal of AFI Awards is to bring together the creative community at a private event founded in hugs and handshakes,” said Bob Gazzale, AFI president and chief executive. “Because that goal is not achievable at this time, we will be postponing the event until we can properly celebrate the artists in a manner worthy of the gifts they have given the world.”
Residents, too, are altering their plans amid the spread of the Omicron variant, with reports mounting of canceled travel plans, parties and visits. Some experts say it would be prudent to make adjustments.
“Case rates and daily hospitalization admissions are steadily increasing, and we anticipate that they will continue to increase,” Los Angeles County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said last week. “If we fail to take common sense safety measures right now, we could find ourselves in a dangerous place by the end of the month and into January.”
Dr. Anthony Fauci, President Biden’s chief medical advisor on the pandemic, said Sunday the nation should be prepared for big spikes in hospitalizations and deaths, especially in areas with low vaccination rates, because of the spread of Omicron.
“We are going to see a significant stress in some regions of the country on the hospital system, particularly in those areas where you have a low level of vaccination,” he told CNN.
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