HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Amid a massive COVID-19 surge in Houston, doctors are pleading to the public to stay away from large gatherings to celebrate the New Year.
"What I would suggest people to not do is to go to very large 50-60 person parties where people are blowing whistles and all those sort of thing and celebrating and you don't know the vaccination status of the people in that environment," said Dr. Anthony Fauci, the Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
Fauci recommends a small celebration with family who are all vaccinated, but Dr. Luis Ostrosky with UTHealth and Memorial Hermann Hospital suggests even tighter restrictions.
"I'm sorry to have to say this but my recommendation is to stay home with your nuclear family," said Ostrosky.
He asks Houstonians to only ring-in the New Year in-person with the people who live in the same household.
"There's just a lot of disease around town right now and there's really not a safe way to have a massive gathering for New Year's unmasked. It's just a set-up for failure," said Ostrosky.
With testing lines lasting for hours, test results now taking days to get back and hospital beds again filling up, doctors say this wave is hitting them faster than any previous COVID surge.
"It is mind boggling that about two to three weeks ago we had barely 100 patients in our hospitals and as of today we have 580+ patients," said Dr. Faisal Masud, the Medical Director for Critical Care at Houston Methodist Hospital.
Masud will be working New Year's Eve to help fill the gap as hundreds of his medical staff are sidelined with positive cases.
"Now we have a perfect storm. We have a deluge of patients showing up in our hospitals and emergency rooms and we have less work force," said Masud.
The fireworks, the live music and the traditional countdown can still be enjoyed all from your TV.
"Let's start 2022 with a new chapter. This is something we can manage as Houstonians together," said Masud.