NORFOLK, Va. - COVID-19 cases are rising once again in Virginia, according to data from the Virginia Department of Health.
The seven-day average of new cases is nearing 1,900, compared to about 700 in the beginning of April.
The percent positivity rate is also now above 10 percent compared to about 3 percent in the beginning of April.
"First of all, I want to share with everyone else: I'm so tired of the pandemic and I wish it was over. I think the light is at the end of the tunnel, but we're not quite there yet," said Dr. Bill Petri from the University of Virginia.
Health officials say the BA.2 variant, along with sub-variants, is leading to the uptick. The variant can reinfect people who've already had COVID.
"I don;t want to be the harbinger of bad news, but I think we are in for a continued rising of cases," Petri said.
Still, hospitalizations are down significantly from a peak last winter.
As of Thursday, there are 210 people in the hospital with COVID-19, compared to more than 3,000 last winter.
"The hope is that we don't get into a situation where we see another surge, which unfortunately is always a possibility, but again we do have the benefit now of having more Virginians vaccinated," said Julian Walker from the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association. "There's always the threat of new variants, but the hope is that if we see a significant or noticeable uptick in hospitalizations that it will not approach anything near the levels that we've seen in some of the previous surges."
While numbers are going up, the CDC says most of the region is experiencing low levels of transmission and something like universal masking isn't currently a recommendation.
If there are more than 200 cases per 100,000 people in a week, a locality would love into medium and further mitigation strategies could be recommended.
In Hampton Roads, many cities have case numbers well below that. Virginia Beach is at about 84 per 100,000 people. Portsmouth is at just 18. Newport News is at 94.
"It's certainly frustrating to see any rise in cases, but it is expected and these fluctuations are something we will continue to see for some time," said Dr. Lisa Thanjan from the Virginia Department of Health.
Thanjan says the trend with COVID is generally every six months or so a new variant arises, causing a spike in cases.
"We have to remember this is the new normal," she said. "It's unclear what the summer or fall will look like."
With 73 percent of the Commonwealth fully vaccinated and the availability of treatments for COVID that can lessen severity, health officials are hopeful this increase won't cause a strain on the health system.