AUGUSTA, Georgia. (WJBF)– COVID cases and hospitalizations continue to climb across the CSRA and the state.

Experts say the Omicron variant is the most transmissible of all previous COVID strains.

“Some studies show that one person who gets Omicron can infect as many as 20-50 people. So it’s a lot more infectious, which is why we’re seeing such alarming numbers across the state and across the country,” family physician Dr. Cecil Bennett said.

Hospitalizations are soaring across the state,, and kids are no exception.

Dr. Cecil Bennett says the number of pediatric hospitalizations reflect just how transmissible the variant is.

“It’s just based on sheer volume,” Dr. Bennett said. “In this instance, we’re looking mostly at children with prior existing conditions such as obesity, diabetes, sickle cell disease, cystic fibrosis, asthma. Those are all common risks factors where children who get COVID may end up in the hospital.”

He says the best way we can protect ourselves from this variant and any in the future is to get vaccinated.

“In my own office, every time I screen someone for COVID, before Omicron it was maybe one out of 10-12 individuals came back positive. Now it is 50 percent. We’re talking about individuals who are unvaccinated as well as some people who are vaccinated and some people who are boosted,” Dr. Bennett said.

Dr. Bennett says while the vaccine in no way guarantees you won’t catch COVID, it does reduce the likelihood of severe disease, hospitalization or death.

“Omicron is affecting everyone across the board, but mostly and clearly unvaccinated individuals. They’re at the highest risk of infection and they’re at the highest risk of ending up in the hospital,” Dr. Bennett said.