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ST. LOUIS — St. Louis-area hospitals are seeing a slight increase in COVID cases again, and doctors predict the numbers will continue to go up.

The St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force on Tuesday reported a slight increase in COVID hospitalizations, from 89 Monday to 96 today.

Doctors said the omicron variant BA.2 and subvariant BA.2.12.1 are infecting people now, and they’re more contagious than earlier variants.

“Our numbers in the hospital are nowhere near where they were earlier in the year. However, as more and more people get infected, more and more people may need to be hospitalized. So, I’m not surprised,” said Dr. Farrin Manian, chair of the Department of Medicine at Mercy St. Louis Hospital.

Manian said warm weather gatherings, such as graduations and proms, could lead to a perfect storm for more infections.

“We also know that this virus can be transmitted by aerosol by just talking, speaking, shouting, singing — all the things that we do with our gatherings this time of the year,” said Manian.

Doctors said vaccination is still the best protection against COVID. Even if you get infected, it will likely prevent hospitalization or death. Manian suggests getting a test at a clinic. He said the home tests are not as sensitive.