As cases continue to trend upward, Dr. Stephen Thomas, Director of Upstate Global Health in Syracuse says now is not the time slack when it comes to masks and other precautions.

“Nationally this story is not good and locally we’re seeing an increase in cases and positive cases each day,” he says. “And hospitals are starting to fill up again, so it’s a precarious situation for sure.”

As cases continue to rise, Dr. Thomas says there are important conversations to be had surrounding mask mandates and gearing up for the school year too.

“Whether you’re vaccinated or not, everybody should be wearing a mask. You remember this is how we were able to have in-person learning without vaccines so I feel strongly that that’s what needs to happen,” he adds.

And while children do have a lower risk of getting sick, data shows that the rise of the Delta variant has changed that. More and more children are being treated and hospitalized to to COVID-19 and ultimately it’s cause for concern and another reason why vaccinations are so important, Dr. Thomas says.

“Vaccines are developed to prevent hospitalizations, prevent disease and prevent death; and the vaccines, even against these variants continue to reduce the risk of the disease,” he adds. “That’s why getting vaccinated is so critical for everyone that can get it.”

To stay up to date on information and guidance related to COVID-19, visit CDC.gov.