AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) – As COVID-19 numbers across the country see a downward turn in cases, hospitalizations, and death. Many are asking what’s next?

With states nationwide dropping masks mandates as covid cases decline, Amarillo Public Health Authority Dr. Todd Bell said the Amarillo area shouldn’t act so fast in doing the same.

“Right now in Amarillo, we’re in kind of a mixed bag. Our case transmission numbers are still dropping, and again, they’re looking much better than what they did. Just a few weeks ago, that’s very encouraging. However, we still have a lot of strain on the health care system. We still have really high cases in the hospital. And we want to try to make sure that we don’t do anything that contributes to that surge,” said Dr. Bell.

Dr. Bell added that it’s a good idea to wear keep masking for a little bit longer.

“I honestly think within the next few weeks, though, we’re going to be in a really good position from a transmission rate standpoint to be able to stop wearing those masks,” said Dr. Bell.

Dr. Bell also addressed the topic of removing mitigation efforts and the possibility of another surge down the line, in which mitigation efforts would have to be put back in places like masking and social distancing.

“I think it’s gonna be hard to get folks to adhere to any sort of mitigation activities with the next surge that we have. And we just hope that the next surge is going to be mild enough that we don’t really have to depend on those mitigation activities,” added Dr. Bell.

Dr. Bell said we could see another surge of COVID-19 in June or October.

He said he believes it will more likely happen in the fall and added he doesn’t think it’s going to be as significant or severe as delta or omicron.

Dr. Bell added that each new variant focuses on transmissibility and not on severity.

“If the virus had a choice, it would rather be transmissible and it wouldn’t care whether it’s severe or not. As long as it can spread. That’s its one objective is to move from person to person,” said Dr. Bell.

Dr. Bell also added the importance of kids wearing masks in school as that is one of the main reasons that schools across the country have been able to keep their doors open and continue to teach.

Dr. Bell said that vaccinations is still the safe way to be able to get that immunity from COVID-19.