SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — As we head into the 4th of July weekend, health officials want to remind you to celebrate safely to curb the spread of COVID-19.

“People are thinking it’s gone away but it really hasn’t it,” said Dr. Lawton Davis, the District Director for the Coastal Health District.

Local health experts are sounding the alarm ahead of the holiday weekend, saying COVID is still a threat in the community.

“We are at a very very significant level of community transmission right now,” Davis said. “Currently, for the last month, we’ve been bouncing around the mid 400s to a little over 500.”

He estimates that the number is likely much higher because of the prevalence of at-home testing.

“It could be twice as high if you were to be able to add in all the positive home tests,” Davis said. “So instead of 439, we may be 878.”

Already, local hospitals recently reported an uptick in people coming in for COVID treatment. Davis said he anticipates the number of cases and hospitalizations will go up after the holiday weekend.

“People lower their guard, gather up and party, we will probably see an increase in cases,” Davis said.

Partying with your guard down, especially now, could make you vulnerable to the virus. Davis says that’s because the variants going around now are much more infectious, even if you’re vaccinated.

“Even today, even if you’re vaccinated if you’re going to be in a crowded place with a lot of other people, especially those you don’t know and don’t know how careful they are, I would encourage those to wear a mask,” Davis said.

Wear a mask and, if you’re eligible, health experts say get that second booster — especially if you’re planning to travel soon.

“Time that second booster and take it about two weeks, two and a half, three weeks before you leave on that trip so that the booster will have the maximum opportunity to provide whatever protection it can,” Davis said.

According to a recent report, there are 40 people hospitalized with COVID in Chatham County, nearly double what we’ve seen over the last three weeks.