COLUMBUS (WCMH) – Doctors are expressing concerns over COVID-19 as the holiday season approaches.

After case numbers headed in the right direction over the last month, the latest data from the Ohio Department of Health shows them trending back up.

Dr. Joseph Gastaldo, an infectious disease expert with OhioHealth, said there are several reasons case numbers are on the rise once again, one of those reasons being the delta variant.

According to Gastaldo, the seven-day average for cases in Ohio is up 40 percent from two weeks ago – below 3,700 on Oct. 31 as compared to more than 3,900 Sunday.

Ohio Department of Health data also shows hospitalizations are up from 2,361 two weeks ago to 2,551 Sunday.

“We have to ve very cognizant of what’s going on in the hospital,” Gastaldo said.

Gastaldo said in addition to the delta variant, the rise in cases is happening due to patients reporting post-vaccination infections, people traveling more, and people spending more time inside.

“I do think, however, though once we get through this winter, we will be in a better place once people get outdoors more,” he said. “I wish we were coming down from our delta surge in the springtime and not necessarily going into winter months, but it is what it is and we will get through this.”

The state’s positivity rate is also gradually increasing right now.

This is all happening with the holiday season around the corner.

“I am very concerned, but again, I was very concerned again a year ago, too,” Gastaldo said. “But what’s different now than a year ago are three safe and effective vaccines. We have vaccine availability for everybody 5 years and older.”

He said there are ways to celebrate the holidays safely, calling the vaccines the biggest tool available.

“It’s just a matter of really thinking ahead of time of the tools you have available and to think about really accessing those to be as safe as you can, especially for those who are vulnerable,” Gastaldo said. “We need to learn to live safely with this virus and to use all the tools available that we have to really ensure a safe holiday season.”