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Omicron wave will 'potentially' infect most of Florida's population, study says

Spike in COVID-19 cases could peak in first half of January
Florida coronavirus
Posted at 4:21 PM, Jan 07, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-07 17:29:33-05

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — A new report said a majority of residents in Florida will contract COVID-19 as a result of the latest wave brought on by the omicron variant.

A team of researchers from the University of Florida released the study Tuesday.

MORE: Omicron spreading quickly in Florida

The study found that the omicron wave in Florida is likely to cause many more infections than occurred during the delta wave last summer, potentially infecting most of the state's population in this wave alone.

A girl, 13, receives the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine in St. Lucie County on May 19, 2021.jpg
A girl, 13, receives the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine in St. Lucie County on May 19, 2021.

"Probably 70 to 80% of the state will either get infected in this wave or have been infected in a prior wave," Ira Longini, a University of Florida professor and one of the researchers who worked on the report, told WFLA in Tampa.

Their data suggested that omicron infections may be less severe than those caused by delta, particularly among vaccinated people.

So, despite causing more infections, their research team said it is possible that there will be substantially fewer deaths from omicron. The study estimated that omicron will cause about a third as many deaths as were caused by delta.

Sign around Belle Glade urging people to get vaccine
Signs around Belle Glade urge people to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

Due to limitations in testing capacity, milder infections in those who are vaccinated and reduced sensitivity of some tests to the omicron variant, researchers believe that a smaller fraction of infections will be detected as cases compared to previous waves.

Infected health care workers, combined with a rapidly increasing number of COVID-19 patients, may substantially strain the health care system, the study said.

Children under the age of five, who are not eligible for vaccination, may be more likely to experience severe omicron infections than adults, according to the study.

Researchers said they believe the latest spike in COVID-19 cases will peak in the first half of January.

The first known case of the omicron strain was identified in Florida on Dec. 7. Since mid-December, Florida has experienced a rapid spread of the strain.