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UF Health confirmed their first case of the Omicron variant and expect a peak around February

Published: Dec. 23, 2021 at 10:24 PM EST
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) - UF Health Shands treated their first confirmed case of the Omicron variant as an outpatient this week.

The case was verified by researchers at the UF Emerging Pathogens Institute. Dr. Ira Longini with the institute explains the severity of the variant.

“What we are predicting is even though we have a large surge in cases not as many serious cases, hospitalizations, and deaths as we saw with the Delta variant,” said Longini.

They created four models on the spread of Omicron in Florida. The institute predicts the variant will be half as deadly as the Delta variant and expect the peak in cases to be between 25,000 and 75,000 a day around January or February.

UF Health doctor Nicole Lovine said the best way to prevent the spread is by wearing a mask this holiday season.

“Now I know no one wants to hear that in the holidays nobody wanted to hear it last year either. But the reality is unless you’ve received a booster you are at risk for contracting and for spreading Omicron.”

UF’s campus had a surge of the flu more than a month ago and doctors are hoping it doesn’t peak at the same time as Omicron.

“We are really crossing our fingers and are hoping we don’t see a large number of influenza patients because to have that overlap of influenza and cover is really going to stress the health care system severely and we don’t want people to get sick,” said Lovine.

They both encourage everyone to get vaccinated and get the booster if it’s available for your age.

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