80% of Floridians will have had COVID by end of omicron wave, expert says

UF study predicts omicron will infect most of population in this wave alone

(Rebecca Blackwell, Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

Florida continues to report a record number of daily COVID-19 cases as the omicron variant spreads throughout the state.

Dr. Ali Mokdad, of the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, has been studying COVID-19 and how it spreads. He believes Florida has already reached its omicron peak and that by the time the current wave is over, about 80% of Floridians will have contracted the virus since the beginning of the pandemic, WKMG reports.

The White House announced on Dec. 1 that the first case of omicron was identified in the United States. Nearly a week later, Florida reported its first case. Omicron has been spreading faster than previous variants, fueling new cases in the country.

“About 40% of Americans will be infected by omicron. That means that we’re going to have the same number of cases in three months as we’ve had in the past two years,” Mokdad said.

A study released by the University of Florida last week predicted the omicron wave in Florida “is likely to cause many more infections than occurred during the delta wave, potentially infecting most of the state’s population in this wave alone.”

Ira Longini, a biostatistics professor at UF and a co-author in the study, said those who were infected by omicron became infectious twice as fast.

He said the omicron variant has a three-day incubation period compared to the delta variant’s five-day incubation period, causing the omicron variant to spread across Florida quicker.

In Altamonte Springs, recent samples from the sewer service area show the highest concentration of the variant in wastewater ever and show nearly 70% of residents in the area were infected with omicron.