AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — Amarillo area health officials said on Tuesday we are headed in the wrong direction when it comes to new COVID-19 cases.

During the city’s COVID-19 briefing Tuesday morning, Amarillo Public Health Department Director, Casie Stoughton, gave out new coronavirus data.

“This morning, we have our total numbers and our total count since the start of the pandemic in March of 2020. We’ve got 49,171 people who have had COVID-19 and Potter and Randall counties,” said Stoughton. “We’re currently at 2,465 active cases and we have 925 deaths that have due to COVID-19 here in our community.”

Click here to see the City of Amarillo’s COVID-19 data.

She also said the five-day new case average was up to 159 new cases per day, with less than a week until the Thanksgiving holiday.

Dr. Brian Weis, the chief medical officer at Northwest Texas Healthcare System, said the increase in cases could be attributed to several different causes. He said it could be from Halloween get-togethers, cold weather moving in, or people taking fewer safety precautions.

Dr. Weis said he is not happy with our area’s recent COVID trend, suggesting we could be seeing a small spike in cases.

“I think your take-home message is please—I think the greatest gift we could give our families during this holiday is to protect ourselves get ourselves vaccinated because certainly, none of us want to be the turkey that infects everyone with a dangerous virus,” said Dr. Weis.

Amarillo Public Health Authority, Dr. Todd Bell, said health officials have seen the transmission rate increase in the past week, but they are still waiting to see the full effects on hospital function and pressure.

“We think that at least a portion of those folks who are testing positive now are folks who previously have had COVID or and have been now reinfected, or are folks who have had the vaccine but have a breakthrough infection,” said Dr. Bell. “In both of those situations, we think that the infections are going to be milder than they otherwise would be.”

He said typically, a trend in new cases can mean more hospitalizations and deaths in the next few weeks, but we have more of our population vaccinated now, and more tools, especially as Regeneron’s monoclonal antibody cocktail is more readily available.

Still, Dr. Bell is encouraging people who plan to gather for the holidays to take safety precautions, especially with younger children and family members who are not vaccinated.

“The last thing that we want to do is to have a wonderful holiday gathering that subsequently is followed by a January funeral because we have a family member who caught the illness from a what’s meant to be and is important as a family gathering,” he continued. “So, I would just encourage people to do the things that we’ve been saying for a long time, get vaccinated, wear your mask, wash your hands, take care of each other.”