You are using an outdated browser. Please upgrade to the latest version for the best experience. Upgrade your browser now.
Skip Navigation

COVID Cases Are on the Rise, With Summer Celebrations in Full Swing

Should we still worry about COVID? Dr. Scott Flinn of Blue Shield weighs in.

This news story is also available in Spanish.


A recent rise in COVID-19 cases across the country — driven by the highly transmissible FLiRT variants — could potentially put a damper on your summer fun. Unlike the flu and other respiratory viruses, which tend to peak in colder months, COVID remains prevalent in the summer season.

This summer, more than four years after the start of the pandemic, many people are wondering, how worried should I be about COVID? Is it still high-risk? And how should we protect ourselves and loved ones while continuing with daily life? Dr. Scott Flinn, regional medical director at Blue Shield of California, answers these questions and more.

How worried should I still be about COVID, more than four years later?

Age is still the biggest risk factor for more severe COVID, with those age 65 and older accounting for the most hospitalizations and deaths. The same goes for those who are immunocompromised. People in the high-risk group may want to get tested early, and get treatment within five days of symptoms onset to prevent hospitalizations. The earlier in the course of the virus the treatment is started, the better. 

scott flinn photo
Dr. Scott Flinn, Blue Shield of California

But everyone has some level of risk and should take action to protect yourself this summer. Regardless of how quick or mild your symptoms are, we just don’t know about the long-term effects of COVID yet. COVID infections can also lead to long-COVID, which can result in chronic conditions. So the best course of action is to still take precautions to avoid infections whenever possible.

How significant is the rise in COVID cases?

As of June 25, COVID cases in the United States are climbing in at least 44 states and territories, according to the CDC. Hospitalizations and emergency department visits have ticked up as well, with most Americans who are hospitalized having not received the updated vaccine that was available last fall. Two FLiRT variants account for more than half of new COVID cases, with evidence showing that they may be more easily spread, but do not cause more severe disease.

Here in California, positive COVID tests have risen 2.5% as of June 28, according to the California Department of Public Health, and COVID virus levels found in the state’s wastewater have climbed recently to levels higher than the rest of the country.

Do I still need to get COVID vaccines?

Staying up to date on COVID vaccinations to combat the latest strains of the virus is the most important thing you can do to protect yourself, yet only a fraction of Americans have done so.

The Centers for Disease Control now recommends that all Americans age 6 months and older get a new shot when the vaccine is updated this fall. The updated vaccine will cover new variants that are largely responsible for the recent upswing in infections.

Should I still take precautions against COVID infections?

At this point, the majority of people have some COVID immunity from past infections and vaccinations. But it is still important to be proactive to help avoid getting COVID, including practicing good hygiene and improving air circulation around you.

The CDC recommends that you:

  • Cover your coughs and sneezes
  • Wash or sanitize your hands often
  • Clean frequently touched surfaces such as countertops, handrails and door knobs

Additionally, you can open doors and windows, use air purifiers or gather outdoors to reduce the risk of spreading COVID at summer gatherings. For even more protection, you can wear a mask and keep distance between you and others.

As the virus and its severity have evolved, there have been varying recommendations about when it is safe to resume regular activities when you have COVID. The CDC currently advises that you can go back to activities once your symptoms improve overall and you have not had a fever for at least 24 hours. Taking other precautions such as wearing a mask and practicing good hygiene for at least another five days can also help protect others around you.