UF researchers predict 80% of Floridians will contract COVID-19 by end of omicron surge

“Probably 70 to 80% of the state will either get infected in this wave or have been infected in a prior wave."

A new report from researchers at the University of Florida claims that up to 80% of Floridians will contract COVID-19 by the end of the omicron-fueled outbreak.

The biostatisticians base their findings on the fact that omicron is much more contagious than any other variant we've seen. They report that omicron is twice as infectious as the delta variant, which fueled a deadly outbreak at the end of last summer.

“Probably 70 to 80% of the state will either get infected in this wave or have been infected in a prior wave,” UF professor Ira Longini said while discussing the report's findings.

While omicron has appeared to be less deadly than earlier variants, people who catch it are infectious much earlier than any other previous variant. Because of this quick incubation period, UF researchers moved up their timetable for when the peak of the omicron surge will hit. They had previously predicted a peak in February, basing their findings on the behavior of earlier outbreaks.

“It’s good news in the sense that the wave will be over certainly by the end of January,” said Longini. “The bad news it’s going to be very intense for the next couple weeks with lots of cases and it probably will put a strain on our hospital resources.”

This astounding rate of infection has already happened in some Central Florida communities. A test of Altamonte Springs wastewater found that 70% of residents on the Altamonte Sewer Service area have COVID-19. UF representatives are still urging vaccination as the best way to deal with this and future variants.

“We may get more variants in the future,” Longini said. “So I think the more people we can vaccinate and keep vaccinating, especially our children who need to be vaccinated, especially the younger children, to keep doing that. Not let up is going to be very important going forward.”

This article was first published at our sister publication Orlando Weekly
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