COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – When will the latest COVID-19 surge peak and numbers, when it comes to cases and hospitalizations, trend down again?

That’s the question many have as we close out on another year impacted by the pandemic.

Both OhioHealth infectious disease expert Dr. Joseph Gastaldo and Ohio State Wexner Medical Center’s Dr. Nicholas Kman said the peak hasn’t happened yet, but that now is a crucial time, with the Christmas holiday just passed and New Year celebrations days away.

COVID-19 cases across the state continue to climb, and hospital bed availability nears capacity.

“We never really came down from the delta surge,” Gastaldo said. “We came down a little, plateaued, and omicron hit the scene and our community rates are going way up even.”

Gastaldo is keeping a close eye on the projected models for when this latest surge will trend downward.

“We’re going to continue to go up in our positivity rate until some time likely between mid to late January, and really, it’s not that far away on the calendar, but it’s an eternity where we are going in our positivity numbers,” he said.

Kman believes the peak will become clearer after the New Year’s holiday.

“Really rely on human factors: how many people are gathering? How many people are traveling? How many people have gotten the booster?” he said.

Both doctors are urging people to think twice about New Year’s Eve and Day gatherings. If you do plan to attend a party, get tested before you go.

“You do have time before New Year’s Eve to get vaccinated; if you’ve been vaccinated, to get boosted, and make sure you’re getting an mRNA vaccine – either the Pfizer or the Moderna – because we know those are a little bit more effective,” Kman said.

Gastaldo said there is an indicator to know when the surge could begin falling here in central Ohio: what is happening with case numbers in the northern part of the state.

“Based on where omicron really took off first, i.e. the Cleveland area, when they peak and once their numbers come down, tentatively, in central Ohio, we’ll probably follow them by seven or 10 days,” he said.

Both doctors said Ohioans have to go back to basics to mitigate the chances of catching the virus: get tested if you have symptoms and stay home if you’re tested positive in order to stop the spread.