When Might the Omicron Variant of COVID-19 Peak in Tampa Bay? One Local and One National Expert Weigh In

L. Cane

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Experts Predict COVID May Peak Sometime in JanuaryAshkan Forouzani

The Omicron variant of COVID-19 is spreading rapidly throughout the United States. As of January 3rd, there were an average of approximately 486,658 new daily cases, according to the New York Times. That's up over 200% from a couple of weeks ago.

In Florida, that January 3rd number was at 43,168 new daily cases, also according to the Times. That's over a 500% increase from two weeks ago.

When Might the Tampa Bay Area See A Peak and Then A Decline?:

From past experience, there is reason to have hope that we may see a decline after the peak of the virus.

South Africa, where the variant was first identified, has seen positive indications that the variant has peaked and then begun to decline, although experts warn that other nations may have a different experience.

Dr. Thomas Unnasch, an infectious disease expert at the University of South Florida, told WFLA, News Channel 8 that he sees rapidly-climbing cases over the next few weeks followed by a rapid decline.

He theorized that Florida might see around 150,000 to 200,000 cases per day at the peak.

That's because cases have been doubling every few days or so and every infected person is then infecting two to three others.

However, the good news is that he sees a sharp decline after that peak, saying,

“From what we’re seeing in South Africa, my guess is, it’s going to be a really really steep wave up, and then it’s going to be a really, really rapid decline down."

Still, Unnasch told ABC Action News that people should still proceed with caution: “The real issue here is that this still could be really serious if you’re not vaccinated," he said.

Dr. Anthony Fauci's Prediction of an Omicron Peak:

In contrast to USF's Dr. Unnasch, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, predicted that a peak may occur by the end of January.

However, Fauci was specially about the United States as a whole. And he agreed that a sharp decline would follow a peak.

In an interview with CNBC, he said,

"It certainly peaked pretty quickly in South Africa, it went up almost vertically and turned around very quickly," he said. "I would imagine, given the size of our country, and the diversity of vaccination versus not vaccination, that it likely will be more than a couple of weeks, probably by the end of January, I would think."

Here is a YouTube video of that exchange:

Orange County Waste Water Shows "Historic Increase" in COVID-19 remnants in the Water:

Orange County is part of a program that tests waste water for evidence of COVID-19 in residents.

Of water tested on December 27th, the County saw a "historic increase" of COVID-19 remnants in the wastewater.

Residents that are both symptomatic and asymptomatic shed these remnants in their waste when they have the disease.

Ed Torres, director of Orange County Utilities, said that such increases in the wastewater usually predict infections four to ten days before a change is seen in the community's caseload.

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