HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — Governor Tom Wolf has eased restrictions at bars, restaurants and other businesses in Pennsylvania. At the same time, more people are eligible to sign-up for vaccination in the Commonwealth.

Dr. John Goldman is an infectious disease expert with UPMC. He says the recent changes follow an uptick in COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and COVID-related deaths.

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“We saw the number of cases decline during most of the winter months,” Goldman said, “but it is human nature, people start to go out and not wear their masks or practice social distancing as aggressively as they were in the past.”

Goldman says the vaccines are the only protection Pennsylvanians have against COVID-19 and the other variants.

“We have seen UK variant in our region,” Goldman said. “It is 50% more infectious, but the vaccination will prevent an extended stay in the hospital or death.”

Goldman says it remains critical people do their part to help stop the spread by practicing social distancing, wearing masks and constantly washing hands.