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Spike in Florida omicron cases could soon peak, researcher says

Omicron will likely infect majority of state's population, Dr. Ira Longini says
Omicron variant
Posted at 5:13 PM, Jan 07, 2022

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — New research from the University of Florida suggests the state could soon approach the peak of omicron variant infections and deaths.

As the omicron variant continues to spread through the country and Florida, staffing concerns persist and long lines show the ongoing demand for COVID-19 testing.

Researchers at the University of Florida say we could soon be approaching the peak of the impacts from omicron in the state.

"We're projecting a peak, a large peak in the omicron epidemic, peaking at about 90,000 cases probably later next week," said Dr. Ira Longini, a professor of biostatistics at the University of Florida.

Dr. Ira Longini, University of Florida researcher speaks on omicron surge study
Dr. Ira Longini believes the peak in omicron cases in Florida could occur by the second week of the year.

He warns that even though case numbers could potentially top out in a week, the impacts could linger.

"Also projecting the deaths during that period peaking a bit later, maybe anywhere from 150 to 300 deaths per day," Longini said.

While it's good news that the worst of the case counts could soon be maxing out, Longini said it will remain important to be on guard.

"After the peak, there's still a same size epidemic on the other side," Longini said.

He said there will still be high demand for testing and treatment.

Hospital, COVID
Researchers from the University of Florida don't believe the omicron surge will overrun hospitals. However, no health officials are advising people to actively get the virus.

Longini said omicron will likely infect a majority of the state's population, at least three times more people than the delta variant but cause a third of the deaths.

Longini predicts hospitals will likely be stressed during and even after the peak, but they shouldn't be overrun.

"The good news is it looks like we should have plenty of hospital capacity, and the virus is not as virulent as delta was, and we have a lot of vaccinated people, and the vaccine protects well against severe disease," Longini said.

Longini has been researching infectious viruses for several decades.

He hopes his work helps Floridians make the best decisions to defeat the pandemic.

"It's nice to be able to help and to understand and contribute to public health," Longini said.