Mayo COVID modeler: Omicron peaks this week

A doctor enters a room.
After donning protective wear, doctor Jacob Lyons enters a negative pressure room to check on a COVID-19 patient in December 2021 at the St. Cloud Hospital.
Paul Middlestaedt for MPR News 2021

Minnesota’s precipitous omicron-driven COVID-19 wave will peak within days, says Mayo Clinic data scientist Curtis Storlie. 

With a backlog of cases at the Minnesota Department of Health and a flood of at-home COVID tests going unreported, it’s possible the peak has already passed, he said.

But as omicron begins its descent, there will continue to be thousands more positive test results and hospitalizations — so people should still take precautions.

"It means we're half done with this current surge. So I think it's important to recognize the omicron surge is not over. There's going to be thousands of infections and hospitalizations on the way back down, too."

Mayo may be seeing a peak in hospitalizations for COVID, too, said Dr. Conor Loftus, who is also chair of Mayo’s outpatient practice. But there are still as many people hospitalized for COVID today at Mayo as there were this time last week, he added. 

“This is not the time for letting our guard down. We need to continue to be extremely vigilant and work through this with social distancing, masking, avoiding crowds,” he said. 

Loftus also made the case for people to continue to get boosted against the virus.

“That's our key capability in our key defense,” Loftus said. 

Once this wave is over, Storlie predicts a relatively calm period for the virus. 

“We're going to have a sharp decline. And then we're still expecting a calm period of relatively low cases for a few months. However, it's unlikely that it will stay that way. The virus will continue to evolve,” Storlie said. 

Storlie says the best way to keep future waves under control is for people to continue to get their first COVID shots and future boosters.

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