COLUMBUS, OH (WCMH) — The state of Ohio has surpassed 3 million COVID-19 cases, a grim milestone that is having local health officials raising concern.

Mount Carmel Infectious Disease Doctor Mike Herbet says despite less virulent variants, the high transmission is a concern.

“The current strains seem to be less virulent so that means there are fewer cases of severe illness and hospitalization,” said Herbert. “But there are more cases in the community than ever.”

He also says the number of cases in our community is probably actually higher than what’s being reported due to at-home testing.

“We don’t even have a careful accounting of all the community cases because of the prevalence of home tests,” said Herbert. “So everyone has a home test and none of those get reported to the databases.”

This milestone comes as much of the country has relaxed COVID-19 restrictions and returned to activities at a pre-pandemic level, disregarding public health officials recommendations like mask wearing and staying up to date on your vaccinations — something Herbert said is a cause for concern.

“I think we worry everyday that the next variant may again cause more severe illness and result in more hospitalizations, ICU stays and deaths,” said Herbert. “Anything that we can do to keep the pandemic in check right now will decrease the risk of resistance developing.”

Herbert says resistance can mean more deadly variants leading to a rise in hospitalizations and deaths.

“Anything that we can do right now to decrease the incidences of infections in the community will decrease the number of mutations that occur which could potentially lead to more serious disease down the road,” said Herbert.

The high transmission levels and case number has left experts like Herbert encouraging community members to not stray too far from recommended guidelines.

“In this period of time where we’re still at the highest levels of transmission and case rates it’s important that we continue to follow all of the public health recommendations,” said Herbert. “So that includes masking when you’re indoors and it also includes masking when you’re in crowded outdoor areas.”

In addition to this, Herbert said you should not be waiting for a new COVID-19 booster vaccine that may be appearing in early fall to get up to date on your vaccines.

My current recommendation is to get every booster that you’re eligible for,” said Herbert. “There may be another shot in a month or two that may be better than the current booster but that shouldn’t prevent you from getting a booster now.”