What pandemic? Thousands celebrate on the Las Vegas Strip, NYC cops bust underground parties and Florida revelers pack clubs and bars on New Year’s Eve as US surpasses 20 million COVID infections
- Large crowds of partygoers gathered in New York, Las Vegas, Miami Beach, Tampa, and Orlando on Thursday
- In New York City, sheriff’s deputies busted up three parties in Manhattan, Queens, and Brooklyn
- Tens of thousands gathered on the Las Vegas Strip to watch the countdown to the new year on Thursday
- Massive crowds were seen at bars and restaurants in the historic Ybor City district of Tampa late on Thursday
- Restaurants, shops, and bars were filled to the brim on Miami Beach on Thursday evening
- The gatherings took place against the advice of political leaders and health experts nationwide
- On Friday, the US surpassed 20 million COVID-19 infections as the pandemic shows no signs of slowing down
The United States surpassed 20 million coronavirus cases on New Year’s Day, but the raging pandemic didn’t stop large crowds from gathering in several big cities across the country including New York, Las Vegas, Miami, Orlando, and Tampa on Thursday night.
Data released by Johns Hopkins University on Friday indicates that the US reached the grim milestone.
The US has nearly twice as many COVID-19 infections as the No. 2 country, India, and nearly one-quarter of the more than 83 million cases globally.
COVID-19 deaths have also increased in the country, now totaling more than 346,000.
Still, that didn’t stop people from pretending that all was normal.
In New York City, sheriff’s deputies broke up three illegal parties in Queens, Brooklyn, and Manhattan.
The image above shows crowds packed together on one of the main drags in the Ybor City district of Tampa, Florida, on New Year’s Eve. Many are seen not wearing masks or socially distancing
New York City Sheriff’s deputies broke up an illegal party that hosted some 145 people at a loft on Prince Street in Manhattan at around 1am on Friday
A couple kisses while celebrating with a large crowd of hundreds – perhaps thousands – of partygoers on the Las Vegas Strip on New Year’s Eve
Visitors descended en masse to bars and restaurants in Miami Beach on Thursday evening
In the Maspeth section of Queens, a karaoke party attended by 300 people, many of whom were not wearing masks, was broken up by deputies.
Deputies received reports of partygoers gathering at the Maspeth Bar Lounge on 58th Street at around 2am on Friday, according to the New York Post.
A couple kisses at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve as thousands gathered on the Las Vegas Strip
People take a selfie during a New Years Eve celebration on the Las Vegas Strip
Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak urged locals to stay indoors on New Year’s Eve. Despite his plea, many turned out to party in Sin City on Thursday night
Revelers wearing costumes pose for selfies on the casino-lined Las Vegas Strip on New Year’s Eve
These partyogers masked up while enjoying some alcoholic beverages in Las Vegas on New Year’s Eve
Large crowds were seen throughout the Las Vegas Strip. This image was taken near Caesars Palace
Revelers are seen above on the Las Vegas Strip as the clock counts down to midnight on New Year’s Eve
Nevada reported 2,315 additional known COVID-19 cases on Friday along with 21 more deaths from the coronavirus outbreak as the state’s totals since the pandemic began increased to 227,046 cases and 3,146 deaths
While shopping, gambling, drinking yard-long frozen cocktails and gawking at the sights, most everyone out in Sin City was wearing a face mask, though not all had them covering their mouth and nose, as recommended by health experts
Two people are seen in a warm embrace as they usher in the New Year on the Las Vegas Strip late on Thursday
A young couple kiss with their masks pulled down during a New Year’s Eve celebration on the Las Vegas Strip
People gather to watch the fountains outside the Bellagio hotel in Las Vegas on New Year’s Eve
Deputies arrived at the lounge 15 minutes later and burst through the door, finding more than 300 revelers ‘consuming alcohol, singing karaoke and dancing’ without masks, according to the sheriff’s office.
The owner of the lounge, Man Phan, 37, and his wife, He Bin Wang, 37, were charged with violation of an executive order, violation of an emergency measure, and failing to protect health and safety.
Phan was also charged with running an unlicensed bottle club, unlawfully warehousing alcohol, and for obstructing an egress. He will be fined $15,000.
Guowei Lin, 44, the DJ who worked the event, and a 35-year-old employee, Fang Zou, were also arrested and charged. They each face a $1,000 fine.
In the Sunset Park section of Brooklyn, deputies received reports of a loud party at Stars Hall.
Deputies arrived just before midnight and found 80 people dancing and smoking hookah.
Al Zabidi, the party organizer, received two appearance tickets for violating an emergency measure and an executive order.
He was also fined $15,000.
New York City Sheriff’s deputies broke up an illegal party that hosted some 145 people at a loft on Prince Street in Manhattan at around 1am on Friday
New York City Sheriff’s deputies are seen above breaking up a party of more than 300 people in the Maspeth section of Queens on Friday morning
Deputies arrived at the lounge 15 minutes later and burst through the door, finding more than 300 revelers ‘consuming alcohol, singing karaoke and dancing’ without masks, according to the sheriff’s office
The owner of the lounge, Man Phan, 37, and his wife, He Bin Wang, 37, were charged with violation of an executive order, violation of an emergency measure, and failing to protect health and safety
Phan was also charged with running an unlicensed bottle club, unlawfully warehousing alcohol, and for obstructing an egress. He will be fined $15,000
In Manhattan, sheriff’s deputies broke up an illegal party at a loft on Prince Street at around 1am on Friday.
Law enforcement officers broke up the event on the sixth floor of 177 Prince Street where some 145 people were ‘dancing, drinking alcohol and smoking cigarettes’ while not wearing masks or standing at a distance.
Party organizers were fined $1,000 and the promoter will have to pay a levy of $15,000.
Large crowds were also seen gathering on the Las Vegas Strip late on Thursday night.
Tens of thousands gathered on the famous boulevard lined with casinos in defiance of pleas from Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak to stay home.
While shopping, gambling, drinking yard-long frozen cocktails and gawking at the sights, most everyone out in Sin City was wearing a face mask, though not all had them covering their mouth and nose, as recommended by health experts.
Casinos have abided by state rules by spacing out chairs at slot machines and installing acrylic partitions separating people standing around craps and blackjack tables, but inside the casino corridors that snake past the gambling floors there were many areas where there were too many people strolling through to abide by social distancing guidelines.
Chanel Griggs and Layena Williams, two street performers costumed in black lingerie, tiaras and purple and white showgirl feathers, said New Year’s Eve is one of their most lucrative nights as they pose for photos with tourists and collect tips.
‘It’s very busy and there’s a lot of people, like drunk people. They give us more money than they usually would. So that’s why we all come out,’ Griggs said.
Miami Beach was bustling on Thursday evening as visitors dined at restaurants and drank at bars to celebrate the new year
Some locals told media outlets they were ‘livid’ seeing visitors from out of town fly into the Miami area
There are no restrictions on bars and restaurants though Miami-Dade County has imposed a 1am curfew during the pandemic
Official figures from Miami International Airport indicate that 80,106 travelers arrived in the city on Wednesday. That’s down from 141,247 passengers a year ago
One couple, Daniel and Julie Starkweather, said they traveled to Miami Beach from their home in Fremont, Ohio, because they felt safer in South Florida
The tourist-dependent economy of Las Vegas has been pummeled this year because of the coronavirus, leaving officials like Sisolak urging people, especially locals, to stay home, while still trying to draw visitors to the glitzty city.
New Year’s Eve is typically one of the biggest parties the city sees all year, with more than 330,000 revelers, a choreographed fireworks show launched from the roofs of casinos, nightclub galas, concerts and other entertainment.
This year casinos are limited to 25 per cent capacity, most nightclubs are closed and the fireworks show was canceled.
Nevada reported 2,315 additional known COVID-19 cases on Friday along with 21 more deaths from the coronavirus outbreak as the state’s totals since the pandemic began increased to 227,046 cases and 3,146 deaths.
The number of infections is thought to be far higher than reported because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected with the virus without feeling sick.
Seven-day rolling averages of daily new cases and daily deaths in Nevada dropped over the past two weeks, according to data from Johns Hopkins University and The COVID Tracking Project.
The rolling average of daily new cases declined from 2,550.3 on December 17 to 1,788.6 on Thursday while the rolling average of daily deaths sent from 34.1 to 29.9.
For most people, the virus causes mild or moderate symptoms for up to three weeks. Older adults and people with existing health problems can face severe illness and death.
However, the vast majority of people recover.
MIAMI: In Miami, Florida, several people were seen partying at the Blue Martini Club Thursday night. Pictured: Partiers including Youtube and IG model Yocancallmestacey celebrate first New Years since the Covid outbreak
The party was held in Miami while all other major cities were not allowing indoor activity ahead of New Year’s Day
Revelers are seen having a few drinks during the party Thursday night in Miami
A waitress is seen holding up a bottle as she walked around the Blue Martini Club in Miami on Thursday
One state that has seen case numbers surge to record highs in recent weeks is Florida, though that didn’t prevent large crowds from gathering in places like Miami, Orlando, and Tampa.
Images and video posted to social media show people walking along a Miami Beach boulevard late on Thursday evening, though most appear to be wearing masks.
‘We are not surprised that everything is open but there is no social distancing at all and people are packing together. No one cares,’ Philip Farenholtz, a visitor to Miami Beach, told WGN-TV.
Crowds gathered in Miami Beach in anticipation of the annual fireworks display, but it was canceled due to windy weather, according to WPLG-TV.
Initially, organizers did not promote the fireworks display so as not to attract a large crowd.
But it didn’t prevent restaurants, bars, and cafes in the area from filling up with customers beginning as early as mid-day on Thursday.
‘I am livid,’ Luis Diazlay, a local Miami Beach resident who stayed home due to the pandemic, told WPLG-TV.
‘We are going to have high numbers because of this,’ Luis’s wife, Amarilys, said.
‘Everyone is coming from all over the United States because we have the beaches.’
One couple, Daniel and Julie Starkweather, said they traveled to Miami Beach from their home in Fremont, Ohio, because they felt safer in South Florida.
Meanwhile, in California, Kirk Cameron, the 80s-era child actor star of the hit sitcom Growing Pains, held a maskless gathering on a Malibu beach in which he gave a religious sermon predicting that ‘God will ambush our enemies in 2021’
‘You can’t help but to not smile here,’ Julie Starkweather said. ‘The sun is shining.’
Daniel Starkweather said he felt ‘safer outdoors down here in the nicer weather.’
Elsewhere in Miami Beach, the Fontainebleau hotel held an indoor concert where 800 people reportedly bought tickets to see the rapper Nelly, according to the Miami Herald.
The city of Miami Beach initially denied the hotel permission to host the concert in one of its outdoors venues.
So instead it reserved an indoors ballroom where it set up 134 tables that could seat 800 people.
Tickets for the event were priced between $1,979 and $3,199.
Official figures from Miami International Airport indicate that 80,106 travelers arrived in the city on Wednesday. That’s down from 141,247 passengers a year ago.
Perhaps more worrisome is that the number of arriving passengers to Miami has been steadily climbing in recent weeks.
Florida’s Republican governor, Ron DeSantis, has been opposed to imposing strict lockdown measures, saying that they are not effective and that they cause damage to the economy.
On Thursday, the state reported the highest daily jump in COVID-19 cases ever detected in Florida.
Health officials reported 17,192 new cases and 133 new deaths, raising the death toll to 21,857.
On Friday afternoon, health officials reported that about 6,450 people were being treated for COVID-19 in hospitals around the state.
During the virus surge last summer, the number of hospitalizations reached nearly 10,000.
The numbers had fallen to about 2,000 in October and early November.
Florida health officials said Friday they will not report new cases of coronavirus in observance of the New Year’s Day holiday.
The daily report of new cases of COVID-19 will continue on Saturday, the agency said in a tweet on Friday afternoon.
This comes a day after the Florida Department of Health disclosed in a statement tweeted on its HealthyFla site that evidence of a new and apparently more contagious coronavirus strain first seen in England has been detected in a Martin County man with no recent travel history.
While bars and restaurants are allowed to remain open, Miami-Dade County does enforce a 1am curfew.
Large crowds were also seen gathering in Orlando and the Tampa Bay area.
Video on social media shows patrons cramming into bars and restaurants in Ybor City, Channelside, St. Petersburg, and elsewhere – with few people seen wearing masks or observing social distancing guidelines.
The crowds gathered despite pleas from Tampa’s mayor as well as the city of St. Petersburg to stay home.
‘Celebrating NYE virtually or with members of your own household (who are consistently taking measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19) poses the lowest risk for spread,’ the city’s official Twitter account tweeted on Thursday.
Meanwhile, in California, Kirk Cameron, the 80s-era child actor star of the hit sitcom Growing Pains, held a maskless gathering on a Malibu beach in which he gave a religious sermon predicting that ‘God will ambush our enemies in 2021.’
Last week, Cameron, 50, hosted a caroling event attended by hundreds of people in what was billed as a ‘peaceful protest’ against Governor Gavin Newsom’s stay-at-home orders.
Now infections have been racing out of control for weeks, and California has routinely set new records for infections and deaths.
It remains at or near the top of the list of states with the most new cases per capita.
On Wednesday, Cameron posted a message on his Instagram page promoting another event at an undisclosed beach location in Malibu, though the post was deleted later that day.
The city of Malibu released a statement on Wednesday calling the event ‘reckless and dangerous.’
‘At a time when the pandemic is at its most dangerous level since it began, such a gathering would be reckless and dangerous. Public and private gatherings are prohibited according to the Los Angeles County Public Health Order, and they put the Malibu community as well as first responders who may be dispatched to such events at risk,’ the statement said.
The city said that law enforcement officials would be ‘attempting to reach the organizer to inform them that they cannot hold an event in Malibu.’
On New Year’s Eve, Cameron, an evangelical Christian, posted a nearly five-minute-long video showing him and a group of other maskless people at a beach at sunset.
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