SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- For the first time in a long time, things are really starting to feel back to normal in the Bay Area.
Many across the Bay Area are returning to the office for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic began and COVID mandates are dropping.
"It's feeling a little more normal," Hayes Elementary School Teacher Chelsey Myers said. "But at the same time, there's still a lot of germs going around."
As the masks come off, there's a higher chance of sickness spreading.
Meyers says she is just getting over a cold that spread in her classroom.
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"I felt like that was going to happen and yeah, I was right," Myers said.
"I think we've been a COVID country for the last two years, but if what we've been seeing in the community is any indication, there's been an upswing of lots of other things," UCSF Infectious Diseases Specialist Dr. Peter Chin-Hong said.
Dr. Chin-Hong says his hospital is seeing an increase in influenza and common cold cases as well as complaints of allergies.
"Usually we've gotten several colds a year for most people," Dr. Chin-Hong said. "I think not having them means that when you do get one, it lasts a little bit longer."
Dr. Chin-Hong says it's important to take a flu or COVID test to rule out something serious, then begin to work on how to best protect yourself and others.
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"As we go back into a complex work environment, you want to be productive, but you also want to keep your environment as safe as possible," Dr. Chin-Hong said.
That means going back to cleaning surfaces, washing your hands, not touching your face and calling out sick if needed.
Dr. Chin-Hong also suggests taking proper medication for specific symptoms you are having so you can get back to your normal life.
"Go out and enjoy things while the going is good, like right now, because you never know when the next surge is going to come," Dr. Chin-Hong said. "But it's really crucial to keep up your street smarts, not just about COVID, but about all these other respiratory pathogens that you can transmit extremely easily."
VACCINE TRACKER: How California is doing, when you can get a coronavirus vaccine
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