SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – A Massachusetts doctor is advising more people to wear a mask when out in public as COVID cases surge to numbers not seen since earlier this year.

Some places require masks, others don’t. That inconsistency is raising a red flag for health professionals as Massachusetts reports more than 15,000 new COVID cases in the last four days.

Mass General Brigham CEO Dr. Anne Klibanski is recommending the public mask up when in public settings. While questions about the omicron variant remain unanswered, she says the advice for the public remains the same.

In a virtual meeting with the New England Council, the CEO for the state’s largest hospital system is stressing the importance of vaccines and masks as COVID case numbers go up, “Stay masked, follow precautions, get vaccinated, get boosters, that’s what you need to do, and I think if we follow those rules, we will be at the very best place in terms of protecting ourselves, protecting our families.”

Klibanski said omicron will likely take over as the dominant variant at some point but a critical question still remains, is it more likely to cause symptomatic disease and illness that leads to hospitalizations.

Many municipalities have lifted their masking orders in recent months. Winter’s arrival and the ongoing surge in infections is forcing some to rethink mask-wearing. But not everyone is on onboard with a mask mandate returning.

“Those people who are vaccinated I think can choose whether or not they wear a mask. I am fully vaccinated and have a booster but in certain places I will still wear a mask but I want to be able to choose,” said Gene Zanor of Suffield.

The City of Boston is one of only a handful of city’s that have a mask mandate in place.