BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — With two new COVID-19 variants emerging in the last week, Jefferson County is now being considered a high-risk zone for the virus.

According to Dr. Michael Saag, the BA4 and BA5 subvariants carry more diseases and are very aggressive, even deadly. With the World Games getting underway soon, Saag recommends going back to safety protocols to keep everyone safe.

“So during the games, I would advise everyone to mask up,” he said. “Outdoor events you can say maybe it’s okay to not wear a mask, but for in-door events wear a mask.”

With these variants being more transmittable, Dr. Saag said that getting vaccinated is the best weapon against the virus. But, with 30 percent of people still refusing to get the vaccine, Saag thinks that they should reconsider.

“I would say with the surging infection, it’s time to protect yourself and get a vaccine if you haven’t had one before,” he said.

Saag also recommends testing for COVID-19 at home as a way to help protect others.