RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN)- More than 5,400 new cases of COVID-19 were reported since Friday. Numbers from Saturday alone are the most reported on a single day since April 30.

UNC School of Medicine professor Dr. David Wohl predicts the numbers won’t be slowing down any time soon.

“It’s not like we didn’t tell you so. We knew this was happening. We saw it happening across the world,” said Wohl.

The U.S. didn’t heed the warning. Now, the state reports a 66 percent increase in new cases in the last week.

“We’re going to see more and more cases. And we’re going to see more and more people get sick and die,” said Wohl.

The state’s county alert system map categorizes the spreading of COVID-19 by county. While only Richmond County is labeled as red or “critical,” 40 counties saw increased levels of spread since the beginning of the month.

“This is all a consequence, let’s be clear, of two factors: the delta variant and unvaccinated people and we have a lot of both of those,” Wohl said.

The spread not just happening in North Carolina. The CDC reports much of the country is seeing higher levels of transmission now than a month ago.

“It is frustrating that we’re seeing a surge again that really, to be honest, was preventable,” said Wohl.

He believed there are still levers to pull to slow the rise, such as mandating masking indoors and in schools and full FDA approval of the vaccines.

For the everyday person, taking the precautions in place at the peak of the pandemic as well as vaccinations are a way to protect against the virus. Wohl himself said he is now retreating to the social distancing and masking lifestyle we had in the winter.

“People can’t let down their guard. We’ve gotten used to that and unfortunately, many other countries have gone back the other way and we’re not going to be any different,” said Wohl.

Looking ahead

Turning things around won’t happen overnight. Pandemic forecasters are predicting the worst of the delta variant is yet to come.

Wohl said this latest surge will likely peak in the fall. It’s a time when people may be retreating back indoors.

The CDC has predicted at least 92,000 new cases, 3,800 new hospitalizations, and 1,200 new deaths nationwide in the next four weeks.