MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — We are officially in Carnival season on the Gulf Coast, and while many are gearing up for the parades and balls, health experts don’t want you to forget COVID cases are still rising.

The Mobile County Health Department said right now we have the highest level of COVID-19 transmission since the pandemic began, and they’re encouraging everyone to be smart as we head into the Mardi Gras season.

For the first time since 2020, the streets of downtown Mobile will be filled with the sights and sounds of Mardi Gras again. Unfortunately, COVID-19 continues to spread quickly throughout the community.

Dr. Rendi Murphree with the Mobile County Health Department (MCHD) advises everyone to take precautions while going out to this year’s parades and balls.

“People are sort of tired of COVID, and they’re ready to get back to normal, and I understand that too I very much feel that way,” said Murphree.

“If you’re going to go to a gathering, get vaccinated. That is the easiest, the fastest, the best way to prevent yourself from getting severe illness if you do contract omicron at a parade or at a ball.”

Mobile County reported 967 cases of the virus Thursday, Jan. 6, and we’ve seen reported cases as high as 1,505 in one day this week.

“It is a really difficult time out there to try and think about gatherings, particularly indoor gatherings where you have a lot of people unmasked, eating and drinking, socializing together in an indoor space,” said Murphree. “Those things put you at higher risk of an event becoming a superspreader event.”

The health department is encouraging people who plan on going to the parades and balls to get tested before going, and again three days after. They also encourage wearing a mask, even if you’re vaccinated, and consider reducing your time at the balls. They advise people who are older or who have medical conditions to consider avoiding the celebrations this year.

“Do your friends and organizations and your social networks a favor by staying home if you’re sick or if you test positive and not take omicron which we know is three times more highly infectious than Delta,” said Murphree.

The Conde Cavaliers will be the first parade to roll through downtown Mobile on Feb. 11.