AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – Health experts say this is the time to take infection precaution and get boosted after a local increase in coronavirus cases.

“Richmond County’s community COVID-19 level, as classified by the CDC, is now at medium, which means we are seeing an increase in the number of cases as well as hospitalizations,” Dr. Phillip Coule, VP & Chief Medical Officer for Augusta University Health System told NewsChannel 6.

He said this is happening as people head indoors to beat the heat. A New York Times chart of new cases in Georgia shows a significant drop from January through April of this year. And then those same cases begin to trend upward, spiking by July. It’s a similar story in South Carolina with cases high at the start of the year, going down in February and then by May, surging to present day.

While at home tests and mild cases don’t get counted in the COVID numbers, Dr. Coule said that’s not what you need to worry about.

“The important number to watch is how many people are becoming ill enough to require admission to the hospital and we are seeing that number going up, probably owing to the BA.5 variant,” he explained.

This more server variant is not as bad as Delta. But Dr. Coule said it’s enough for AU Health to require a medical-grade face mask for staff and visitors along with keeping up good hand hygiene. As for the community, he told us there’s no need to shut anything down at this point, people can follow suit with masks, hand washing and a booster.

“If you have a recent booster, you get a period of protection that crosses most of the variants that have emerged,” said Dr. Coule.

Boosters should be spaced out by six months and if you have tested positive for COVID, the wait for another shot is 90 days.

To find a local place that administers vaccines or boosters, click here (https://www.vaccines.gov/).

You can also visit Georgia Department of Public Health (https://dph.georgia.gov/covid-vaccine) or SCDHEC (https://scdhec.gov/covid19).

Barney’s Pharmacy also issues Moderna and Johnson & Johnson shots on Mondays and Fridays by appointment only.

Dr. Coule added now is the time to also consider curtailing activities to avoid a surge.