It's now been 3 weeks since Alabama's statewide mask mandate expired.
The state health department is still seeing an increase in positive coronavirus cases and people sick with flu-like symptoms.
We spoke with two doctors in the state and they both say the governor ended the mask mandate knowing that Alabamians would be smart and still social distance and wear masks when required.
But the relaxation and the amount of folks getting vaccinated are causing a slight issue right now.
"I think people are tired of COVID. We're all tired of COVID. But we're not where we need to be in terms of the number of persons vaccinated in the state of Alabama in order to relax our mitigation standards," said Dr. Karen Landers with the Alabama Department of Public Health.
Landers said the vaccination effort in people 65 and older is above 66%. That number drastically drops for people between the ages of 16 to 54, at only 25%.
She said this number shows a bigger push is needed for the largest age group to continue getting vaccinated and said this is one reason we're seeing an increase in cases.
"Only 1 in 5 are fully protected with that vaccine and as you see, relaxations in public health measures like masking and you see more individuals gathering indoors without their masks. It may make sense with seeing community transmission here in our state," said Dr. Ellen Eaton.
Eaton is a professor at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and she says we're currently seeing about 6% increase in positive cases.
Another reason for the increase is because after the CDC announced fully vaccinated people don't need to wear a mask unless in small groups outside, most people ignored it.
Eaton said when the statewide mask mandate ended, people just didn't pay attention at all.
"If people prematurely apply those guidelines to themselves, and they're not vaccinated, we could potentially worsen things and see some increases in spread in our community," said Eaton.
Both Landers and Eaton say with summer right around the corner, getting your flu shot and COVID vaccine, and making sure to be proactive instead of reactive is key when it comes to this deadly virus.
Even though you may think you have beat COVID, doctors say there are still lasting effects.
"There are a number of people that still have symptoms of COVID long after they have resolved their acute illness. So the be it protection is really is to prevent yourself from getting COVID," said Landers.
The way to do that is by getting vaccinated and making sure to closely pay attention to the CDC guidelines.
Landers knows there's a lot and sometimes, they may be confusing, but to make it as simple as possible. Still wear your mask while in close proximity to others, get vaccinated and don’t let your guard down, she said.
Eaton also told WAAY 31 the state is seeing an unusual increase of influenza-like symptoms in patients over the last few weeks. She says it's not normal because we should only see flu and cold-like cases during the winter months, which could indicate we may see early cases of COVID.
"It is unlikely for us to have had historical low flu activity over the last winter months and now see an uptick. So, what the concern is from public health experts is that these increasing cases of flu-like activity may actually be new coronavirus cases again because only 1 in 5 Alabamians are fully vaccinated," she said.
Right now, Eaton says she's unsure if we'll have a major surge in cases over the summer, but it all depends on if we stay on top of masking and everyone getting vaccinated if they're eligible to do so.