Omicron could infect 80% of Florida by the time current wave ends, researcher suggests

A University of Florida researcher studying the coronavirus is predicting that up to 80% of the Sunshine State’s population will have caught the disease by the time the current wave of cases fueled by the omicron variant subsides. 

The estimation from biostatistics professor Ira Longini comes as Florida reported 125,996 new infections on Monday, according to the Miami Herald. 

“Probably 70 to 80% of the state will either get infected in this wave or have been infected in a prior wave,” Longini told WESH. 

A man is tested for COVID-19 at a walk-up testing site run by Nomi Health on Dec. 28 in downtown Miami.
(AP/Rebecca Blackwell)

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In a recent report authored by Longini and two other University of Florida researchers, they wrote that they believe 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.” 

“Preliminary data suggest that omicron infections may be less severe than those caused by delta, particularly among vaccinated people,” the report continues. “This means that despite causing more infections, it is possible that substantially fewer deaths will result from the omicron wave. We estimate that omicron will cause 1/3 as many deaths as were caused by delta.” 

In an aerial view, cars line up at a drive-thru COVID-19 testing site at the Zoo Miami site on Dec. 29, 2021 in Miami, Florida. 

In an aerial view, cars line up at a drive-thru COVID-19 testing site at the Zoo Miami site on Dec. 29, 2021 in Miami, Florida. 
(Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

The researchers also said they believe reported cases will peak the first half of January. 

“It’s good news in the sense that the wave will be over certainly by the end of January,” Longini told WESH. “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.” 

As of Jan. 6, the Florida Department of Health has reported 4,562,954 coronavirus cases since the onset of the pandemic. The U.S. Census Bureau estimates the state’s population as of July last year was 21,781,128. 

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On Monday, there were 9,888 people hospitalized for the coronavirus in Florida, the Miami Herald reported, citing data from the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. 

That is 789 more than what was being reported Sunday, but the state has yet to match its hospitalization record of more than 15,000 in August 2021, the newspaper added. 

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