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Health officials, experts concerned about a fourth wave of COVID-19

Increased travel and family gatherings stemming from spring break and the Easter holiday could result in another spike in cases of coronavirus.

GREENSBORO, N.C. — Public health officials said COVID-19 cases are creeping up once again across the nation. With increased travel and family gatherings stemming from spring break and the Easter holiday, there are concerns about a fourth nationwide wave in COVID-19 cases.

"I'm going to reflect on the recurring feeling I have of impending doom," CDC director Rochelle Walensky warned last Monday. "We have so much to look forward to - so much promise and potential of where we are, and so much reason for hope. But right now I'm scared." 

RELATED: CDC's director warns of another potential COVID-19 spike as variants pop up, restrictions loosen

Walensky said loosened restrictions, states, and municipalities ending their mask mandate, more travel, and an increase in COVID-19 variants could play a role in an impending coronavirus spike.

Triad health experts and officials said they're monitoring metrics and trends and are prepared.

"We know when people get together, we tend to have more exposure to any type of virus, including COVID," Dr. Ashley Perrott of Novant Health said. 

Officials said while they don't expect Thanksgiving and Christmas hospitalization numbers, a fourth wave is expected to come with its own set of challenges.

"This variant that we call B.1.1.7 does seem to be more transmissible and perhaps impacts younger people more than the normal variant," Dr. Bruce Swords of Cone Health said.

Officials also said while nearly 25% of the state has had at least one dose of the vaccine, more people still need to get shots to achieve herd immunity.

"We have to continue to push to get the vaccine out there and to keep the 3W's, the mask-wearing and the social distancing out there so we can get ahead of this virus," Joshua Swift, Forsyth County Health Director said.

Vaccine clinics are ongoing across the Triad. On Wednesday, the state moves to the group 5 stage of vaccinations. This means everyone 16 and older who wants to get a vaccine can get one. Many counties in the Triad are already offering vaccines to everyone.