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Times Square Ready For Another Smaller New Year's Eve Celebration, New York COVID Cases Continue To Rise

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- New York has reported a surge in COVID cases just as many will gather to celebrate New Year's Eve. The state recorded an all-time daily record of positive cases Thursday - more than 74,000. The positivity rate was more than 22%.

The party in Times Square will be scaled-down Friday for the second year in a row. Mayor-elect Eric Adams hopes his new COVID plan will work so traditions like this can return to normal in 2022, CBS2's John Dias reported.

On the final day of 2021, Times Square is reminiscent of 2020 as the city prepares for a smaller New Year's Eve celebration. More people are welcome this year, but everyone 5 and up must be fully vaccinated and masked. People who are unable to be vaccinated due to a health condition or disability are allowed to attend, but must show proof of a negative COVID PCR test no more than 72 hours old.

"Normal is boring and Times Square is never boring. So from the beginning we wanted this to be a safe event," said Tom Harris, president of the Times Square Alliance. "The environment that we're in, less people will come to Times Square... They'll be distancing within the viewing areas and if anyone doesn't feel comfortable, we could take them to another area."

Times Square will not open for revelers to start gathering until 3 p.m. Friday.

As the city welcomes in the new year, Mayor-elect Adams wants New Yorkers to buy into his COVID plan when his term officially starts at midnight.

"The Adams Plan" calls for getting more people vaccinated, improving hospitals, increasing access to testing and new treatments, distributing masks and strengthening mitigation measures in schools.

"We must learn to be smarter, live with COVID and ensure that we protect everyday New Yorkers," Adams said.

Adams will keep the de Blasio administration's private sector vaccine mandate, but said his focus is on compliance, not punishment.

"We're going to go to those sites where people are openly failing to comply and make sure our city services are utilized," said Adams.

"We will also study the need for what we're calling the up-to-date mandate, which would require New Yorkers to have their booster shots under the vaccine mandates currently in place," said New York City Health Commissioner Dr. Dave Chokshi.

Adams vowed to distribute 2 million masks in January citywide, improve health and safety in congregate settings like jails, shelters and nursing homes, and scale-up access to antiviral COVID treatments.

As for schools, Adams said he will improve ventilation and give millions of at-home test kits to students and staff.

"The city will set a deadline of this spring for a decision about a vaccine mandate in schools to commence later in 2022," Chokshi said.

Adams will be sworn-in as the city's 110th mayor in Times Square after the ball drops. CBSN New York will have live coverage of the swearing-in ceremony.

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