MEMPHIS, Tenn. — In the dangerous summer heat, why are more and more people starting to wear a mask again?

WREG asked Dr. Shirin Mazumder, an infectious diseases expert with Methodist Hospitals. She says COVID is the main culprit.

“I mainly work in an outpatient infectious disease clinic, and we are seeing more patients test positive than last month,” Mazumder said.

A graph from the Shelby County Health Department shows a substantial increase in COVID cases over the past five weeks.

We asked if this increase in numbers has anything to do with students returning to school.

“We’ve seen numbers go up every summer, and a lot of it has to do with the heat wave we’re experiencing and people going inside for AC,” Mazumder said. “Also traveling for the summer and it’s hard to know if it’s from school.” 

Mazumder says there are also other illnesses going around like flu and RSV in children, especially as we enter respiratory virus season. But the same precautions we’ve heard since the pandemic still reign true.

“In addition to wearing a mask, good hand washing, avoiding sick contacts, and get tested if you’re having symptoms,” Mazumder said.

We asked when do you know it’s time to go to the hospital or emergency room? 

“If you experience more severe symptoms like dizziness, shortness of breath, chest pain, those are more serious and may warrant a med evaluation,” Mazumder said.

But help is on the way.

“Anticipating a new booster next month, so while we wait taking extra precautions is a good idea,” Mazumder said.

Healthcare experts say waiting until September or October to get the shot could give you better protection in the winter when another possibly large wave could happen if seasonal patterns hold up.

However, higher-risk people are encouraged to get it as soon as possible. If you’re not sure, talk to your doctor.