VINCENNES, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV)– With coronavirus case numbers hitting their highest point in months, Knox County Health Official Dr. Alan Stewart was blunt when discussing the county’s situation.

“Our recent numbers have been somewhat disappointing. We actually have high numbers. In particular, with regard to the rest of the state. We seem to be at the top and that’s very disappointing to us,” Stewart said.

According to the state’s COVID-19 dashboard, Knox County has 139 cases per 10,000 residents, the 2nd-highest among all Indiana counties. Stewart said the county had about 500 active cases as of Monday morning.

These numbers are at their highest since January, when COVID-19 cases hit their all-time highs in Knox. Stewart said the recent increase is a result of the most recent Omicron variants, which he said is about three to four times more contagious than the original COVID-19 virus.

He recommended people go back to masking in public spaces.

“It’s very contagious, and I really strongly recommend going back to masking in public places. Unfortunately, when I’m in a public place, I’m probably the only one wearing a mask that I see,” Stewart said. “I think it’s very important and remember, it’s not just for yourself but for other people you’re protecting as well.”

Stewart also said this was important as school is around the corner. He said cases spiked in August of 2021 as children returned to classes. He recommended wearing masks in classrooms and, if a student tests positive, quarantining for longer than five days for those in school.

“If you stop your quarantine [at five days,] it’s very important to mask, and ideally, in controlled situations, like schools or the hospital and so forth, we do recommend a longer period of quarantine such as 7-10 days,” Stewart said.

Stewart also said eight people were currently hospitalized with COVID-19. He said the best way to avoid serious illness is to get vaccinated.