COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – Central Ohio is back at a point in the COVID-19 pandemic it hadn’t previously seen in quite some time.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control’s (CDC) latest update on its map has Franklin County in the yellow, or medium, level.

In addition, the CDC’s map shows about 40 percent of counties across the country are at the same level, and some other central Ohio counties – Delaware, Pickaway, and Madison — have as well.

The levels – green, yellow, and red – are determined by the amount of COVID-19 in the community and hospitalizations.

The health commissioner of Franklin County Public Health said this is a significant concern and a reminder for residents to take precautions.

“We are now dealing with a new variant more immune-evasive from infection, BA.5,” said OhioHealth Infectious Disease Specialist Dr. Joseph Gastaldo. “It’s very transmissible. Also, too, we all have COVID fatigue.”

Data from the Ohio Hospital Association shows almost 1,200 hospitalized COVID-19 patients statewide Tuesday. Numbers in January of this year were above 6,500.

“What’s different this time around, though, is even though there’s a lot of COVID in the community, we are not seeing that in the hospital,” he said. “Yes, in OhioHealth and the state of Ohio, there are more COVID hospitalizations, but it’s nowhere near what it was this past winter during the omicron surge.”

Christopher Gonzalez, a central Ohio resident, is well aware of the fact we’re still dealing with a pandemic. He said family members have COVID-19 now and is frustrated this is still going on after about two and a half years.

“I mean, it’s concerning obviously, but I think we’ll just have to watch and see what happens,” he said. “At this point, I’m used to it, but for the most part, I think, at some point, it’s going to bet back to some kind of normalcy.”

Gastaldo said case numbers are likely higher than what’s being reported because of a lot of home testing being done.

“If you have an at-risk condition, if you are immunocompromised, you should talk to your healthcare provider about wearing a high-quality mask,” he said. “As an infectious disease doctor, my at-risk patients, I am advising them to wear a high-quality mask indoors in public.”