COVID-19 (coronavirus) generic

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- As new COVID-19 numbers in Kentucky and Indiana are reported by the thousands each day, doctors are calling this a frightening time of the pandemic.

Since late-October, much of the country has experienced a rapid spike in new COVID-19 cases. It's similar — worse in some states — to the first spike in March.

Health professionals said there are two big factors contributing: the lack of compliance and the weather.

“A lot of us sometimes want to just forget this is happening," said Dr. Monalisa Tailor with Norton Healthcare. "That’s been a big factor playing into some of this. We aren’t doing the distancing. We may not be wearing our masks regularly when we’re going into public spaces.”

Health professionals call this "fatigue." Many people are simply getting tired of having to follow restrictions and guidelines, leading to non-compliance.

Doctors said that shouldn't be an excuse to stop social distancing, hand-washing, mask-wearing and all other guidelines set forth by health officials.

"We're not seeing the same level of interaction and compliance from public health," said Dr. Jason Smith with U of L Health. "We're not seeing the same level of interaction and compliance from people in the communities. I think they've come complacent."

Weather is contributing to the spike too. The colder temperatures are changing the environment and forcing people indoors.

"It's a dryer environment, which means the virus tends to last longer if it's not warm and moist," Smith said. "If it's cool and dry, the virus can stay viable on surfaces, can linger in the air longer."

"If we're in enclosed areas — in a restaurant or at home — and we have a gathering of people, that's going to increase our risk for getting this virus," Tailor added.

As the holiday season approaches, doctors see it as a test to see if people can follow guidance and help lower the spread. If not, medical professionals said it could result in an even bigger spike in the coming months.

"If we can limit travel and some of the things that we normally do, we could slow things down," Smith said.

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