RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — An alarming projection in Richmond from the region’s top health director: a potential spike in COVID cases heading into December.

Mayor Levar Stoney and Dr. Danny Avula from the Richmond Henrico Health District gave an update on the city’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak Wednesday afternoon. As of Wednesday morning, Richmond reported 5,145 total cases of the coronavirus and 68 deaths as a result of the virus. The city’s seven-day positivity rate is currently at 3.6 percent, which is 1.3 percent lower than the state average.

Dr. Avula said many models predict another spike at the end of November, and the city has increased the rate of percent positivity and outbreaks over the last 16 days.

The mayor said people cannot relax on safety guidelines just because they are tired of them.

The numbers show that we are not out of the woods,” Stoney added.

Dr. Avula adds that people continuously going back to work should be mindful of their symptoms.

“Individuals who may have had an exposure or who may have mild symptoms continue to press on, and to go to work or to show up at a social event, and so that working while symptomatic or going to a social event with symptoms invariably is leading to Covid clustering and outbreaks.“

Dr. Danny Avula said despite a small downturn in cases over the past five to six days, numbers have risen over the past three weeks.

“We have had an increasing percent positivity over the last 16 days,” Dr. Avula said. “We are now up to 3.9 percent.”

And with a spike, comes an increased need for ICU beds and ventilators at a time when those hit by influenza may need them in the winter.

“We have more circulating respiratory illness, more need for ventilator usage in the hospital setting. But it does have implications for the segment of our population may develop severe Covid disease.”

All the more reason, he says, for people to get their flu shots and monitor any symptoms of illness.

The Health District is continuing to provide free COVID-19 testing opportunities, as well as free flu shots.