By CBS3 Staff

DOVER, Del. (CBS) — Delaware health officials are once again encouraging residents to mask up while indoors amid surging COVID-19 cases. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday raised the First State’s community level to high.

The state health department says COVID hospitalizations have increased by 22% (from 129 to 165) as of Friday, with 12 patients currently in critical condition. At least 16 children under the age of 5 have been hospitalized in Delaware.

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The seven-day average in Delaware is also up, with a 20% positivity rate and 523 new cases. The health department believes the number of cases is higher since at-home COVID-19 tests are not reported to the department.

The BA. 5 subvariant is believed to be behind the surge in COVID cases.

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“Data indicates that while the current vaccines may not be as effective in protecting you from getting infected by this powerful variant, they are highly effective in preventing severe illness, hospitalization, and death,” DPH Interim Director Dr. Rick Hong said in a statement. “Further, the CDC has indicated that getting a vaccine now will not exclude you from getting the enhanced COVID-19 vaccine in the fall. It’s in your best interest to get any booster for which you are eligible now and the enhanced vaccine in the fall to ensure the best protection both now, and then.”

The health department is recommending residents wear masks indoors regardless of their vaccination status and stay home if they’re sick with symptoms or were exposed to someone with COVID.

Delaware health officials say most of the new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are among people who have not received booster shots. They say with the new surge, it’s critically important for everyone to be up to date on vaccinations.

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CB3’s Stephanie Stahl contributed to this report.