MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Like many states across the country, Mississippi is reporting a substantial increase in COVID-19 cases.

Over a seven-day period, the state has had 10,000 new cases. Mississippi health leaders say they have entered a fifth wave and are advising people to take precautions. State health officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs said the point of this is to “survive and thrive.”

More than 3,500 cases were reported on Wednesday alone, and the majority of them have been linked to the omicron variant. State Epidemiologist Dr. Paul Byers said this could be a part two of the Delta variant.

“I anticipate that there’s gonna be a lot of cases,” Dr. Byers said. “We may see some of the levels that we saw on a monthly basis with Delta. I would not be surprised with that with how rapidly this is transmitting.”

During a briefing Wednesday, the health officials said people of ages between 18 and 24 are being affected the hardest by the Omicron variant. As we head into the new year, they are worried about the impact it could have.

“Holiday seasons have been a real challenge for folks for gathering and celebrating,” Dr. Dobbs said. “It’s a prime opportunity for COVID to spread, but also we’re now in the setting of the most highly contagious variant that we’ve seen. And we’re in the midst of a peak of transmission.”

With the recent rise in cases, state leaders are pushing for people to get vaccinated and boosted in order to help overcome the challenges of the pandemic.

Just like for Christmas, health officials are encouraging people to know their COVID status before gathering for the holiday.