BEXLEY, Ohio (WCMH) — COVID-19 cases are once again trending upwards in central Ohio, and at least one university is re-implementing a familiar strategy to slow the spread.  

But while masks are returning for some, one local doctor says we’re more prepared should another wave surge through the state. 

It was nearly seven weeks ago that students at Capital University were last required to wear masks. 

While health experts still say face coverings are still one of the best ways to prevent contracting COVID-19, experts said there are a few ways to protect yourself even if you do. 

“I definitely feel like Capital is being responsible, bringing the masks back,” admits Ash Robertson, a freshman at the university. 

The school announced the most recent shift on Sunday, leading to mixed reactions from students on campus. 

“It just kind of felt neutral. I mean I’ve been wearing my mask anyways for the most part,” Robertson adds. 

“We were pretty bummed, just because a lot of us have been fully vaccinated, we’ve all been cautious and worn them for two years,” said Capital senior Paris Knipp. 

School officials cited an increase in COVID-19 cases over the last few weeks as the reason for the reversal. 

In a statement to NBC4, the school says that they will monitor numbers this week before determining protocols for graduation this weekend. 

The school says if numbers decline, they may lift the mandate after the semester. 

“There’s been a lot of sorority formals, big get-togethers, especially because we didn’t have the masks,” Knipp said. “We’ve been a lot more close so, so I can see how it would spread.” 

Experts say the vaccine is still the number one way to prevent severe COVID-19, but there are several ways to avoid getting critically ill from the virus. 

“We also have outpatient treatments, and outpatient pills that are FDA authorized,” said OhioHealth infectious disease expert Dr. Joseph Gastaldo. “People need to have a plan in place if they have an at-risk condition to get testing, but also have that plan in place in how you get the pills or monoclonal antibodies.” 

For most, contacting your primary care physician is the best way to access available treatments, Gastaldo said, but there is also a resource to help connect those who don’t have a doctor. 

“Results. There’s 112 places. So, there’s 112 places within 10 miles that have the pills,” Gastaldo describes as he navigates the website for the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, which can be found HERE.

Users can simply enter their zip code, and the website connects them to the nearest treatment providers. 

Treatments, at one point, were a scarce resource. Now, widely available, Gastaldo recommends one in particular. 

“Paxlovid — the Pfizer antiviral pill cocktail — is the first thing that should be reached for because that has the biggest risk reduction,” Gastaldo said.

As for masks, Capital University is recommending students wear KN-95 or N-95 masks, which health experts have widely agreed offer the most protection against the virus.