COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – The Centers for Disease Control have moved Franklin County to a high level of COVID-19 transmission. This comes as large gatherings like the Ohio State Fair are returning in full operation.

City of Columbus and county health officials have reinstated a mask advisory for the area following the increase in cases.

OhioHealth Infectious Disease Doctor Joseph Gastaldo says besides wearing a mask people should be wary of large gatherings.

“We really don’t have a good idea of how much COVID is in the community,” said Dr. Gastaldo. “Ya know, we get weekly PCR test results from the Ohio Department of Health that is a gross underestimation of how much COVID is out there.”

While we aren’t seeing a huge rise in hospitalizations due to the spike, Gastaldo said the rise in outpatient cases calls for increased precautions in large gatherings.

“Go have a good time,” said Dr. Gastaldo. “Have your mask in your pocket, have your surgical mask or your KN95 mask ready to go. If you’re going to be indoors I recommend you put a mask on. If you’re going to be outdoors real close to people, that is a good time really to wear a mask too.”

Another cause for concern with this spike is low booster vaccination rates for people 50 and above who the CDC recommends get a second booster vaccination.

Dr. Gastaldo said under 10% of eligible 50-64-year-olds have received their second booster shot, but even more alarming is 25% of those eligible in the 65 and up the group have received their second booster.

“And getting that second booster in this age group is very important because you really need that second booster to have that great layer of protection against hospitalizations or dying.”

Gastaldo explained these low numbers can be attributed to a number of reasons including confusion on who should be receiving what vaccine for their age and vaccination status, the misinformation that if you’ve had COVID you don’t need to be vaccinated and people are waiting to be eligible for new up to date boosters potentially coming out this fall.

He says if you receive a booster now, you will still be eligible to receive the updated booster whenever it becomes available.

With the rise in cases in Franklin County, Dr. Gastaldo said it’s imperative for high-risk patients to wear a mask, be up to date on their vaccinations, and get tested to have the best protection against hospitalization and death.