Here are the headlines you Need2Know for Friday, December 31, 2021:


Tonight's New Year’s Eve celebration in Times Square is still on for 15,000 lucky attendees–as long as they’re all vaccinated and registered to stand outside. Still, Dr. Fauci has warned against hosting large gatherings, and urges family and close friends to keep their parties under 40 people. Other global cities like London, Rome, Paris and Tokyo have called off their respective NYE celebrations entirely. FOX 5


Planning your next vacation? Avoid cruises, the CDC says. The public health agency urged all Americans, whether vaccinated or not, to stay away due to the rise of recent outbreaks. The CDC is currently investigating cases on at least 92 cruise ships. For those planning on going anyways, the agency recommends being fully vaccinated and boosted before travel, and says cruise attendees should wear masks while “in shared spaces.” In response to the CDC’s alert, stock prices for Carnival, Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Linings fell. YAHOO NEWS


A new federal ban on surprise medical bills will take effect Saturday, eliminating the risk of shocking out-of-pocket costs for millions of patients. The restriction covers almost all emergency medical services and most routine care visits. Patients, however, will still be responsible for their deductible or co-payment. NY TIMES


More than 30,000 residents in Boulder County were told to evacuate last night as wildfires, driven by winds up to 105 mph, destroyed at least 580 homes, a hotel and a shopping center. Some of the blazes may have been sparked by downed power lines, but the region also experienced an “extremely dry fall,” which has extended into winter. Governor Jared Polis  declared a state of emergency. AP


Tesla issued a voluntary recall on nearly half a million Model 3 and Model S vehicles after issues of with their its trunk latching systems were reported. Tesla says the issue lies with the opening and closing of its trunk, which for Model 3 may damage the cable harness attached to its rearview camera and cause the camera to fail. For Model S, this can prevent the front trunk from fully latching. THE VERGE


Colorado Governor Jared Polis has reduced the 110-year sentence of a truck driver who was convicted of killing four people in a fiery highway crash. Rogel Aguilera-Mederos will now be sentenced to 10 years. Polis called the original sentence “highly atypical and unjust.” Aguilera-Mederos was convicted earlier this month on 27 charges, including four counts of vehicular manslaughter after his track slammed into stopped traffic in 2019. DENVER POST


Looking for something else to watch today aside from NYE broadcasts? Try college football. Alabama’s Crimson Tide faces off against the Cincinnati Bearcats in the Cotton Bowl at 3:30p ET, followed by Georgia vs. Michigan in the Orange Bowl. With Cincy playing in the semis, the game will mark the first time a Group of Five conference team has qualified for a four-team field. CBS SPORTS


Harry Potter is hitting HBO Max this Saturday with a 20th anniversary special, “Harry Potter: Return to Hogwarts.” Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, Tom Felton and other of the franchise’s characters will be chatting and reminiscing during the nearly two-hour documentary. Harry Potter creator J.K. Rowling, who stirred controversy in 2019 over her comments on gender identity and trans rights, was largely reduced in the documentary to archived footage. CNN


… fireworks over Sydney Harbour, as the Earth welcomes 2022: SEE PICS

…InStyle's 50 Best Dressed Celebrities of 2021, featuring looks from red carpet awards to the Met Gala: SLIDESHOW

We’re more interested in the 50 worst dressed celebrities. 

…University of South Carolina football coach Shane Beamer, getting a 5-gallon cooler of mayonnaise over the head after the Gamecocks beat UNC in the Duke’s Mayo Bowl: WATCH


On Christmas Day, Banco Santander accidentally sent over $175 million of its own reserves to thousands of U.K. accounts. The Spanish bank had mistakenly duplicated payments on December 25 to nearly 75,000 people and firms, including account holders at banks such as Barclays and HSBC. While Santander is racing to try and retrieve the money, some of the affected banks reported worries that  customers may have already spent the funds. BLOOMBERG
Listen to the N2K Podcast! Looking for more context and analysis on the big stories of the day? Check out our podcast! Hosts Jill and Carlo break down the headlines, every weekday morning Listen on Apple or Spotify, or watch on YouTube, and send us your feedback!