SANTA ANA, Calif. (KABC) -- Orange County has climbed back into the "high" level of COVID-19 transmission amid an increase in cases and hospitalizations.
Dr. Regina Chinsio-Kwong, the county's chief health officer, says the jump to a higher level of community spread was expected because more people are socializing and gathering for the holidays.
She suggests taking a COVID test before heading to a family event or party.
"Consider testing before you go to a holiday gathering because you actually may have COVID, and if you do then you're going to have to stay home," Chinsio-Kwong said.
She says if you think you've been exposed to the virus, you should test yourself more than once before celebrating the holidays.
COVID cases are expected to rise through the first week of January.
Orange County Health Care Agency officials also encouraged residents to get up to date on vaccinations for flu and COVID-19. Officials especially encouraged vaccinated residents to get the new bivalent booster, which is designed to combat the omicron variant.
Health officials also advise the public to wash hands often and wear a mask in crowded spaces to stay safe.
Chinsio-Kwong says other illnesses are also putting a strain on resources.
"Hospitals are still being impacted by flu and RSV," Chinsio-Kwong said. "Although we are seeing a decline in the RSV rates, the kids who are still getting into the hospital and even some of the adults who are going into the hospital are still having severe symptoms."
City News Service contributed to this report.