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Virginia health officials share advice on safely celebrating New Year's Eve

Health officials say regardless of vaccination status, it's best you take additional safety measures.

NORFOLK, Va. — Getting vaccinated and boosted is what leaders say will protect you from COVID-19 and the omicron variant. Health leaders are worried for those unvaccinated as cases rise days before the new year.

"Those who are unvaccinated, those who aren't wearing their masks, those who have underlying medical conditions are at a greater risk of complications, hospitalizations and death," said Dr. Parham Jaberi, the chief deputy commissioner for the Virginia Department of Health.

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He said regardless of vaccination status, it's best you take additional safety measures if you have plans for New Year's Eve.

"I would personally recommend making sure, if not outdoors or in a venue that is well ventilated, again, thinking crowd size. If you are not able to socially distance, if you are packed together shoulder to shoulder versus places where you are able to sit three to six feet away," Dr. Jaberi said.

He said get tested if you develop any symptoms. Dr. Jaberi said many took that advice seriously following the Christmas holiday. Hundreds lined up at Military Circle Mall Monday to get tested. He said the site saw its highest numbers for COVID-19 testing.

"We had record-breaking numbers," he said. "433 people got tested at the Military Circle Mall. Usually, we test anywhere from 100 to 150."

The health department expects to see large numbers at upcoming testing days at Military Circle Mall. Leaders are planning to add more staff to handle the large crowds.