ELMIRA, N.Y. (WETM) – Across the majority of the Southern Tier, COVID-19 hospitalizations are climbing — in some counties, they’ve increased nearly 50-percent.

Cases have been going up since early April but remain significantly lower compared to New York’s winter surge, when hospitals saw positivity rates upwards of 30-percent.

“I think [cases increasing] has a lot to do with the level of elderly patients that we [who live in the Southern Tier],” Arnot Health Infectious Disease expert Dr. Justin Nistico said. “You can also compare that to [the number of] people that live at or below the poverty line.”

Despite the increase, Dr. Michael Scalzone of Guthrie Health told 18 News he predicts cases will reach their peak within the next three or so weeks.

“We’re hopeful that we’re going to soon be seeing a peak here,” Scalzone said. “If we look at some of the indicators in Central New York seems to be plateauing from an infection and hospitalization rate. Hopefully the Southern Tier will soon follow that.”

All of New York State, with the exception of a few southwestern counties, are considered “high” or “medium” risk for COVID-19.

This comes on the heels of the United States hitting one-million COVID-19 deaths, making it the deadliest pandemic to ever hit the country.

“Though I’m troubled the numbers have gone up a bit, the death rate continues to decline,” Dean of the Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine Dr. Richard Terry said. “I think we’re in a state where this can be controlled.”