Delawareans reveal plans to ring in 2021, and not everyone’s staying home

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Only a few items celebrating the new year are displayed at the vendor's stall in Times Square, New York, Monday, Dec. 28, 2020. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

Only a few items celebrating the new year are displayed at the vendor's stall in Times Square, New York, Monday, Dec. 28, 2020. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

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Cheri Zatko-Coseglia normally has a few friends over to her home near Harrington to celebrate New Year’s Eve with wife Laura and teenage daughter Arli.

They imbibe, nibble on finger food, listen to music, and share their hopes for the coming year while waiting for the ball to drop in Times Square. Then they bang pots and pans outside and continue their revelry into the wee hours.

This year, the scenario will be the same, but not the crowd. The fiesta will include just the three of them.

One key reason is that Zatko-Coseglia, a chiropractor who will turn 60 in 2021, has an underlying cardiac condition. So she isn’t going to chance contracting COVID-19 or spreading it through their rural community in Kent County, where cases have recently skyrocketed.

Laura, Cheri Zatko-Coseglia, and daughter Arli
Cheri Zatko-Coseglia (center) usually gathers with friends on New Year’s Eve but this year she will celebrate with her wife Laura (in red) and daughter Arli. (Courtesty of Cheri Zatko-Coseglia)

“We’re just going to do a little party, you know, instead of having people here, because I’m at high risk,’’ she told WHYY News.

The Zatko-Coseglio family is doing exactly what the Carney administration is urging Delawareans to do for New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day festivities during the ongoing state of emergency: limit gatherings to the immediate household.

Gov. John Carney says he fears that the record-setting spike in cases and hospitalizations recorded shortly after Thanksgiving will create a “surge upon a surge” from Christmas and New Year’s parties in private homes.

The governor recently issued an order for bars and restaurants to close by 10 p.m., so midnight celebrations out on the town have already been canceled.

Many people who responded to WHYY’s query about their plans said they will be heeding the governor’s advice, either being alone or with their spouse or partner and/or children. One woman said she will be joining what she called a “Zoom cocktail party.”

Yet not everyone will be following the governor’s guidance.

Mike McCarter of Pike Creek said he and wife Nicole will be joining up to eight friends at one of their nearby homes.

He said he realizes state Public Health Director Dr. Karyl Rattay says parties can become what she calls deadly “super-spreader” events, but calls that prospect highly unlikely for their “core group.”

Though his friends will be in close contact during the night and most likely won’t wear masks, McCarter said, they socialize regularly and none have yet caught COVID-19.

Nicole and Mike McCarter
Mike McCarter and his wife Nicole will defy the governor’s guidance and gather with a handful of friends, but they don’t think anyone will be at risk. (Courtesy of Mike McCarter)

“It’s not like we are having a bunch of unknown folks coming in,’’ said McCarter, who runs a lawn maintenance business and sings in a band. “We’re just looking to get together with the people that we’re comfortable with. We understand what they’re saying, but we’re keeping it nice and tight.”

Claudia Robbins said she and husband Alan, who live in the Bellefonte area, are doing exactly what they did last year: having dinner at La Fia restaurant in downtown Wilmington.

“We appreciate the value of masks, and we know there will be social distancing between diners and the people who will be going between the diners will have masks on,” said Robbins, a massage therapist who works in quality control for a company that makes laboratory equipment. Her husband is a molecular biologist.

Alan and Claudia Robbins
Claudia and Alan Robbins will support the hospitality industry and dine out at a Wilmington restaurant. (Courtesy of Claudia Robbins)

They aren’t just dining out to dine out, though. Her stepdaughter is a restaurant manager, and she wants to support the hard-hit industry.

“We also want La Fia to be there next year,’’ Robbins said. “This is the season they make their money, and they haven’t made their money.”

But it won’t be a late night. As usual, they have an early reservation, this year at 6:30 p.m.

“We are home before all the crazy people come out,’’ she said. “Literally, we’ll be home and asleep on the couch by 10:30 with a half-drunk bottle of champagne in front of us.”

And then, of course, there are the frontline workers who won’t be able to celebrate with their beverage of choice.

They will be working, and in the case of home health nurse Mary Bradley, donning a mask and face shield to care for mask-wearing clients, some of whom have been discharged from the hospital after being treated for COVID-19. In those cases or suspected cases of infection, she also wears a gown.

So New Year’s Eve will be “just another day for me,’’ Bradley told WHYY, noting that in her 30 years as a nurse she has often worked on holidays.

“It has been an honor for me to serve people when they are in need,’’ she said. “More importantly, the patients are the ones who are compromised or sick during the holiday, so I am blessed.”

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