FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) – After PRIDE, Juneteenth, bike festivals and other packed community celebrations over the last few days and more than two years of being recommended to avoid the crowds, some may be worried about the events’ COVID-19 impacts.

The Chief Medical Officer of Community Clinics across Northwest Arkansas, Gary Berner, said we need to proceed with caution with a rising number of COVID cases in the area.

“What a wonderful opportunity to celebrate PRIDE. What a wonderful opportunity to celebrate Juneteenth. Just take care of yourself and take care of others,” said Dr. Berner.

For example, Dr. Berner said it might not be the best idea to visit your grandparents or anyone at a higher risk after attending a large event.

The case numbers are going up just in time for more in-person events in the River Valley too. An infectious disease doctor at Mercy Fort Smith, Kevin Davis, said it’s not the time to let our guard down since not every case is reported with how easy it is to get at-home tests.

“I suspect that there’s probably a lot of cases that are out there that we aren’t really detecting,” said Dr. Davis.

Dr. Davis said the rise is part of what’s becoming the ‘normal’ ebb and flow of the disease. He said a large amount of people have started to realize that we will be living with the disease and are just going about their lives.

Dr. Davis wants people to understand how contagious the virus is.

“I would expect that cases continue to rise for a while. We’ve seen Arkansas trending that way,” said Dr. Berner.

One simple thing to look at when you’re deciding to go to a large event is if it’ll be outside. Dr. Berner said the suns rays kill off COVID and offers much more safety than an inside event.

Although, if you’re wanting to keep participating in large gatherings safely, both doctors say getting vaccinated or boosted is still the best way to protect yourself.