SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – COVID-19 cases are increasing in western Massachusetts as the weather cools off.

As summer gives way to fall, a subtle up-turn in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations has been seen. Those combined factors have pushed western Massachusetts back to moderate and high risk levels for the consequences of COVID-19.

Hampshire and Franklin County are now marked by the CDC as moderate risk while Berkshire County is considered high risk, based on case numbers, hospitalizations and staffed hospital beds. Over the last seven days, more than 9,000 cases have been confirmed state-wide, a daily average of more than 1,200 cases. On September 1st, that average was just over 1,000.

We’re seeing similar increases in hospitalizations, and positive test rate. Hospitalized patients infected with COVID-19 increasing from 600 to nearly 700 over September. The state’s positive test rate moved from 7.4 to 7.7. People 22News spoke to say it’s just another scary part of modern life.

“I’m not super worried about it, in the sense that it caused me anxiety in a daily basis but it’s definitely something that’s in the back of your mind,” said one local resident. “I work events, so I do a lot of events with lot of people. A lot of people are still wearing masks at events, so if we see someone with a mask, we will put one on.”

The CDC recommends people in moderate and high risk counties wear masks while in public. For high risk communities, anyone at risk of severe COVID-19 should stay at home.

Patrick Leonardo, the Operations Manager for western Massachusetts AMR, told 22News, “Along with that comes cold season, flu season… coming into the end of the year there are a lot of people getting together for different holidays and what we say is true, of what the CDC and everyone has been saying all along. If you have a gathering with 10 to 15 people and its enclosed, a lot of people aren’t wearing masks now. We end up finding three to seven days later a lot of people end up feeling sick.”

Leonardo added that testing remains a great resource to allow you to keep living life to the fullest, while protecting the people around you. If you feel sick, even just a runny nose, take a test.

The Eastfield Mall site is open from 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. on the weekends. The state has funded the site through March 2023.