MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — Officials with the Mobile County Health Department are asking people to watch for symptoms as they’re seeing a rise in COVID cases as the school year begins. They’re recommending testing and vaccines with a new variant of the virus and a new version of the vaccine on the way.

MCHD’s Health Officer said they have more than 970 Covid cases this month–while it is trending up it’s far lower than the same time last year. In August of last year, they were seeing 4,000 COVID cases. As school starts a rise in COVID and Flu cases is expected–and peak by the Thanksgiving break so engage in best health practices.

“And so the basic techniques of social distancing, washing one’s hands, if you’re sick, stay away from others. Cough etiquette are all appropriate things to do in the community,” said MCHD Health Officer Dr. Kevin Michaels. The CDC recently identified a new variant BA.2.86–but so far it hasn’t been detected in Alabama. A new COVID-19 vaccine will be available sometime next month.