Orange County health officials don't want residents' upcoming holiday plans to be ruined or put on hold because they got sick.
The county has moved into the CDC's "medium" COVID-19 community level based on the number of cases and hospitalizations.
OC Health Care Agency health officer Dr. Regina Chinsio-Kwong said: "CDC has a specific threshold of new hospitalizations related to COVID that put you in a medium level, and because we met above 10 new hospitalizations of COVID per week, that's where we met the medium level."
She said this puts an additional burden on hospitals and staff as they also deal with a spike in flu and respiratory viruses like RSV.
"Anecdotal reports from the hospitals are saying that people are just sicker," Dr. Chinsio-Kwong said. "Even pre-COVID, what they're seeing with flu cases, as well as RSV cases, is people are sicker than they've ever been pre-COVID."
Dr. Jose Mayorga, executive director of UCI Health Family Health Centers, said some folks have let their guard down when it comes to protecting themselves.
"Well I definitely think we're in the middle of these waves. There's different ideas of a triple hit of these viruses," he said.
Dr. Mayorga said that can open the door to falling ill.
"People were very much aware of their risk of getting sick from COVID and so people were wearing masks, they were washing their hands really well," Dr. Mayorga said. "They were limiting their indoor activities in crowded spaces. All that's kind of been let go to some extent."
Dr. Chinsio-Kwong said moving into the medium tier should inspire people to do their part to stay healthy and safe.
"Unfortunately with what I'm seeing in the community and people are not really following a lot of the precautions, and also our vaccination rates for the bivalent booster are not really high enough, unfortunately, I feel like it's going to get worse before it's going to get better," she said.
Health experts urge everyone to get the COVID-19 and flu shots if they have not done so.