Fauci says it's 'essential' people wear masks at Times Square NYE celebration

NYE Masks
Attendees in Times Square during 2021 New Year’s Eve celebrations on Dec. 31, 2020 in New York City. Photo credit Gary Hershorn-Pool/Getty Images

NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — As New York City officials continue to push forward with current plans for the New Year’s Eve celebration in Times Square, Dr. Anthony Fauci is urging caution.

In an interview with WCBS 880’s Michael Wallace and Steve Scott Wednesday afternoon, the nation’s top infectious disease specialist and chief White House medical advisor said people attending the festivities should definitely be wearing masks.

“It’s absolutely essential that people keep their masks on,” Fauci said.

“Even though outdoors is much more safe than indoors, with regard to the risk, when you have a virus that is so easily transmissible, I would think that it would be a risky situation,” he added.

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Mayor Bill de Blasio has said he plans for a full-on New Year’s celebration, but as the COVID-19 omicron variant continues to spread throughout the city, officials have been considering if the event should be scaled back.

When asked about if he thinks the iconic Times Square celebration should be rethought, Dr. Fauci responded, “I'll leave that decision up to the New York authorities.”

De Blasio on Sunday said he would have a decision regarding New Year’s Eve by Christmas.

On Wednesday, he addressed the plans on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” saying he still feels confident that the event can return in full swing given that all attendees must be vaccinated, and it will be held outdoors.

“We don't want to live in defeat or surrender to COVID,” de Blasio said during the interview.

He did note, however, that city officials are considering additional precautions, but did not elaborate.