RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – How can you protect yourself as COVID-19 cases spike across the country and in the Triangle?

Other than getting vaccinated, should you still wear a mask? Should you socially distance? Should you get tested, even if you don’t feel sick?

CBS 17 crews wanted to get answers.

While getting the shot is still the best defense against the virus, there are other things people can be doing to make sure they stay healthy.

“We know that masks work. And these are, in some ways, one of the cheapest interventions,” Julie Swann, the head of North Carolina State’s Industrial and Engineering Department, said. “I would far rather have a mask than shut down our bars and restaurants.”

That’s why she’s hoping to see more mask mandates implemented in North Carolina and the country – she doesn’t want to see another lockdown as case counts climb. Swann is worried due to the transition from summer activities into schools, people are not taking all the measures they could to stay protected.

“(Just) to give ourselves a little more time to get things under control, as we come back into schools and a lot of people are coming back from summer (vacations), workplaces are also starting to come back in person,” she said.

That’s Swann’s biggest concern right now: the transmissions going on in schools and workplaces, even among the vaccinated.

She also stressed that masks only help if they’re used correctly.

“Some of the masks that (people) are wearing are not high quality or not well-fitted across their face,” Swann said.

There’s also the problem that not everyone is symptomatic if they do have COVID-19. she explained that people could get someone else sick even without feeling any effects themselves.

“If you’re trying to really flatten the curve, you probably need to be testing the majority of people coming in person about once a week,” Swann said.

She believes that frequent testing of everyone could make a huge difference in the rate of community spread.

“It’s not really going to take your virus transmission down,” Swann said. “It allows you to look for trends. So, if you start at 1-percent test positivity, and then you’re going up to 2-, 5-, or 10-percent, that tells you if you need to take more actions.”

Those actions, she thinks, leaders in schools and workplaces need to make soon.

“They have an important role in helping to get the pandemic a little bit more under control, as they are both putting in place policies related to vaccines, and policies about testing and screening and mask usage,” Swann said.

Swann told CBS 17 that some schools in the Triangle are partnering with a state program to help get more in-school testing done. She hopes more get on board.

She also explained that enforcement of these policies is critical: they will only work if people listen.