RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Wake County health leaders are reporting at least a 19 percent positivity rate for COVID-19 tests.

Experts believe the rate is likely higher since many people are testing for the virus at home, and not reporting their results to the health department.

Across the area, COVID-19 cases are climbing, but health leaders are worried that people are not acting like it. 

Doctors told CBS 17 that people cannot let their guards down just yet. 

“We may think that we’re done with COVID, but COVID is not done with us,” UNC’s Dr. David Wohl said. “So, if you want to not catch COVID, try to reduce your exposure to COVID-19 by masking and distancing.”

He said it’s for people’s own health, the health of others and the future of where the county stands in the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Wohl said the lack of precautions and the rising numbers is concerning. 

“We’re giving (the virus) loads of opportunities to mutate because it just keeps ping-ponging across different people, and people are getting re-infected with a different strain,” Wohl said.

No one knows how a potential new strain will affect people or the healthcare system. But right now, Wohl said the impact is low. 

“We’re not seeing as many people in the ICUs and hospitals, proportional to the type of numbers we’re seeing of infection,” he said. “That means there’s a lot of immunity built up over time. That’s great. We need to keep that up, or even get better.” 

But things could change in the next few months, as kids return to the classroom and college football games pick up again.

“It’s probably going to be October or November when we will see the writing on the wall,” Wohl said. “Are we headed to another catastrophic winter like we had this last winter?”

He said the only way to prevent that from happening is by masking up, looking at the trends and taking precautions. 

“Is it worth it going to that indoor event? Is it worth it going to that movie? Is it worth it eating indoors,” he asked. “We have to think hard about masking as we start the school year and see where things are going. And again, the good thing about this is sometimes you can put masks in place when we need it, and then pull it back when we don’t… just like (when) we react to weather.”

Wohl also said he wished people would take the politics out of mask-wearing and understand the protection it can provide.

Finally, he told CBS 17 he hopes more people who are eligible to receive a booster shot get the booster.

While the B.A.5 vaccine is expected to come out this fall, Wohl believes the more proactive people are, the better.