WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is reporting an uptick in COVID-19 cases across the country and health officials are recommending families be proactive to protect themselves going into the fall.

The CDC reports a more than 20% increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations since the previous week.

“Still not at the same level that we saw, for example, even a year ago. But it is an increase and it is a reminder that COVID-19 will be with us,” said Dr. Nirav Shah, CDC Principal deputy director.

To avoid an infection, Shah is recommending families get the updated vaccine when it’s released in mid-September.

“Not only does the help keep you and your families safe, it also reduces the potential strain on hospitals,” Shah said.

Dr. Panagis Galiatsatos, a pulmonary and critical care medicine physician at John Hopkins University, said he’s seeing the uptick in cases firsthand, specifically among patients with weakened immune systems.

“It’s mutated where it’s lot more contagious again,” said Galiatsatos.

He says the public should not panic but recommends everyone take steps like wearing a mask to avoid overburdening hospitals this fall.

“Face masks, in my opinion, should be seen no differently than umbrellas. If your weatherman or woman is telling you it’s going to rain, I’m grabbing an umbrella,” said Galiatsatos.

The CDC is only recommending people mask up in areas with high rates of hospitalizations. Right now, that excludes roughly 97% of the country.