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News about coronavirus in Florida and around the world is constantly emerging. It's hard to stay on top of it all but Health News Florida and WUSF can help. Our responsibility at WUSF News is to keep you informed, and to help discern what’s important for your family as you make what could be life-saving decisions.

UF researchers say omicron cases will peak sooner than expected

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In December, UF researchers predicted the omicron wave would reach its peak in February, but with the recent surge they’re now predicting the variant will peak within the next two weeks in the state.

According to a report released by the University of Florida, the COVID-19 omicron variant will peak sooner than expected.

In December, UF researchers predicted the omicron wave would reach its peak in February, but with the recent surge they’re now predicting the variant will peak within the next two weeks in the state.

 UF infectious disease expert Thomas Hladish says omicron is spreading faster than other COVID variants.
University of Florida
UF infectious disease expert Thomas Hladish says omicron is spreading faster than other COVID variants.

UF infectious disease expert Thomas Hladish said omicron continues to spread faster than other COVID variants.

Even though there’s still a lot unknown about immunity when it comes to COVID, Hladish said, “We’re pretty sure that normal, healthy people are not going to be getting reinfected in a matter of weeks. And so basically, in a sense, the virus is burning through all of its fuel very, very quickly. And that’s one of the reasons we know the peak has to happen soon. You just can’t sustain this kind of growth long-term.”

However, Hladish said, the rapid spread can have a serious effect on our health care system as many workers call out sick.

“When things happen this quickly, there’s no time to react. And when you have a large number of health care workers that are also infected, they can’t work. They can’t show up at the hospital,” he said. “And what that means is that you have clinics and wards totally unrelated to COVID, but can’t operate because they don’t have the staff to function.”

Hladish suspects more people will be infected with omicron than any other variant during pandemic.

Also, he said parents with kids under the age of 5 should be extra cautious this month as there have been higher hospitalization rates among that age group compared to other variants.

“We are seeing higher hospitalization rates in kids under 5 than from other variants. And, of course, kids under 5 aren’t eligible for vaccinations,” Hladish said.

Hladish adds that when you couple that with the staffing issues many hospitals are experiencing, it’s a dangerous time for families with young kids.

Copyright 2022 Health News Florida

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