PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — Across the country, new COVID-19 cases are down 22%, hospitalizations are down 12% and deaths are down 8%, according to daily tracking numbers published in the New York Times.

It’s the time of year for tailgating and spending time around the table with loved ones. If you love the pumpkin spice season, so do viruses.

“Viruses do much better when we head into the cold season they hang in the air longer,” said Dr. Richard Besser who is president of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Dr. Bresser tells 10 on Your Side hospitals are bracing for an uptick in potentially deadly viral illnesses.

“So whether you talk about flu, you talk about Covid, you talk about other viruses, we’re coming into a season where those numbers could reverse,” said Besser in a recent Zoom interview.

Statistics just released from Old Dominion University show in 2021 fewer Black Virginians were vaccinated compared to their white counterparts. The numbers flipped this year. 60% of Black residents are fully vaccinated while 57% of white Virginians are fully vaccinated.

“One of the concerns that I have is there is a degree of complacency that we are over Covid and while the pandemic is winding down, Covid is not.,” said Dr. Besser.

(WAVY photo: Regina Mobley)

10 On Your Side’s Regina Mobley rolled up her sleeve recently at New Light Full Gospel Baptist Church for the new vaccine formula that offers protection from the omicron sub-variants.

“People can take action right now to reduce the chances that they are going to get a serious illness,” said Dr. Besser.

Virginians who have not been fully vaccinated, or are eligible for booster doses, can visit vaccinate.virginia.gov or call 1-877-VAX-IN-VA (877) 829-4682 to find nearby vaccination clinics.

Those seeking to find or schedule a testing appointment can visit vase.vdh.virginia.gov/testingappointment.