There’s one more celebration before we say goodbye to 2020, and it could bring with it some of the biggest risks of contracting COVID-19, if you’re not careful.

“Traditional New Year’s Eve parties are riddled with significant risk this year as we continue to navigate this pandemic,” says Dr. Lauren Schneekloth, Family Medicine Physician with Ascension Medical Group Wisconsin, a Be Safe Wisconsin partner. “Oftentimes parties involve sharing drinks, party favors, dancing and singing, hugging and kissing – usually in crowded, poorly ventilated indoor spaces.”

Dr. Schneekloth adds, “As scientific evidence has confirmed, COVID-19 is spread mostly through infectious, airborne respiratory droplets and aerosols which makes traditional New Year’s parties a high-risk activity. The safest way to ring in 2021 is by staying at home with members of your immediate household.”

Public health officials throughout Wisconsin also suggest your New Year’s Eve celebration has a quarantine ring to it. “Staying home improves your chances of starting 2021 healthy,” says Bonnie Kolbe, RN, BSN, CHPN, Health Division Manager and Health Officer at Calumet County Public Health and Human Services, a Be Safe Wisconsin partner.


If you commit to staying put, consider these festive and meaningful ways to usher in a new year from home.

Reflect and reset. Before the sun sets, spend the day looking back on all you accomplished this year, despite the challenges. The fact that you made it to the end of 2020 is itself a success. Consider making a scrapbook that captures the highs and how you made it through the lows. Then, come up with a creative New Year’s resolution or two – a goal to strive for in the new year – such as recommitting to practicing the safe behaviors that slow the spread of COVID-19: wearing a mask, watching your distance, washing your hands and more.

Make a healthy brunch. Why wait until 2021 to begin eating well? Start strengthening your immune system now to fight off any virus that might think about invading your body. Select a festive dish, with superfoods such as spinach, blueberries, eggs, avocadoes and more. Drink up the end of 2020 with a cup of the antioxidant and polyphenolic-rich green tea, or make a toast with freshly-squeezed orange juice.

Connect with nature. Invigorate your senses as you step outside and breathe in Wisconsin’s winter air. Look to the stars to imagine what the new year will bring. Hear the silence in the last evening of December before noisemakers leave ears ringing. Taste a snowflake on your tongue. Get physical and chop some wood to stoke a bonfire to enjoy in the great outdoors. Research shows that spending just 20 minutes interacting with nature can lower stress hormone levels, and who wouldn’t want to end this year with a little less stress. Studies have shown exposure to nature not only improves our emotional and mental health but also our physical health, including reducing blood pressure and muscle tension. Imagine less stress being your first experience of 2021.

Bring the party to your place. Dress up your home and yourself for a smaller gathering with members of your immediate household or just you. No need to miss out on a stellar New Year’s Eve party. Set the scene with 2021 décor and festive food. Wear your favorite holiday outfit. Purchase celebratory props and create a photo booth capturing your last memories from 2020. Have favorite games on hand – Bingo to Family Feud – to add even more excitement to the evening. Invite others into your home virtually. Zoom has plenty of games to play together online.

Countdown to 2021 via TV. Watch the world-famous ball drop from Times Square New Year’s Eve celebrations in New York City. As we approach the midnight hour, Gloria Gaynor is set to perform her 1970s disco hit “I Will Survive.” As part of the evening program, come together as one nation to recognize COVID-19’s frontline workers: first responders, essential workers and their families. Organizers say they hope to bring to the evening “a sense of renewal and new beginnings.”


Here are some warnings from our Be Safe Wisconsin partners to those who are considering a night on the town or hosting a large party the last night of 2020.

Beware of being in a room with more than 10 people. Being indoors in a crowded space with poor ventilation leaves you at high-risk for catching COVID-19. Avoid these situations.

Avoid leaving the area. Traveling by plane, train or even automobile ups your chances of contracting the coronavirus due to exposure to people outside your quarantine “bubble.” Avoid venturing into areas with high infection rates for COVID-19.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) COVID Data Tracker is available to check out online.

For a more local snapshot of how the virus is spreading across the state, visit the Wisconsin Department of Health Services COVID-19 Tracker. Find up-to-date information for each county. Here are links to Be Safe Wisconsin partners.

Keep your guard up. Don’t falter on the 3 W’s: Wear your mask, watch your distance and wash your hands. Also, disinfect frequently used surfaces such as gas pumps, bathroom handles and doorknobs.

Be wary of being pressured to go out. Talk with your friends and family about plans and express that you have decided to stay home and remain apart from others. Resist the temptation for a New Year’s Eve meet-up or worse, a year-end indoor party with a large group of people.

Stay away from in-person gatherings, especially if you fit into any of these categories:

  • An asymptomatic person who tested positive for COVID-19
  • A person who has been exposed to COVID-19
  • Someone who has symptoms of COVID-19
  • A person waiting for COVID-19 test results
  • A person with increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19

“You might feel completely well and still have COVID-19,” says Dr. Zachary Baeseman, ThedaCare family medicine practitioner in Waupaca and Wild Rose and Associate Medical Director of Primary Care. “And that means seemingly healthy people unknowingly can pass the virus onto people who might not be able to fight the disease and suffer severe symptoms, even death.”

It has been a challenge for family and friends to stay apart the past nine months, but the hope is, if we play it safe from a distance into the new year, we can safely come together again sometime in 2021.