AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – Flashback to just one year ago, and local hospitals were overwhelmed with COVID patients. Now local COVID numbers are at a record low since the pandemic began… with only 32 COVID patients at AU Health Monday.

“I don’t think that there’s going to be a big increase in Richmond County, Columbia County and Augusta,” infectious disease specialist at AU Health, Dr. Rodger MacArthur said.

After Halloween, the number of COVID cases surged across the nation, but not in the Augusta area.

“While cases are rising in a number of states, especially in the West and Midwest, they’re actually going down in the Southeast, including Georgia and South Carolina,” Dr. MacArthur said.

Doctors say it’s fine to get together with friends and family over the holidays, as long as people are vaccinated. They say those who are unvaccinated should wear masks.

“I would encourage us to get together if you’re vaccinated,” Dr. Cecil Bennett of Newnan Family Associates said. “I can’t stress that enough, because all you need is a gathering where half the people are vaccinated and half the people are not vaccinated, and now we’re spreading COVID among those who  are not vaccinated.”

They say people need to be vigilant going into the holiday season in order to keep avoiding that surge.

“We’re almost there. I think we’re three to four months on the other side of the mountain and we’ll be done with this, so let’s just be diligent in this last mile,” Dr. Bennett said. “Get vaccinated, get your booster, wear your mask, socially distance, wash your hands. And please, let’s protect our children by getting them vaccinated.”

Doctors say as we’re approaching a light at the end of the tunnel, vaccination is a huge part of getting through this.

“Even if it is going away, why would you want to risk being the last causality,” Dr. MacArthur said.