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Mayo Clinic modeling shows further decline for COVID in the coming weeks

As expected, the omicron-fueled surge is subsiding in Minnesota, with further drops expected by the end of February.

ST PAUL, Minn. — As predicted, the month of February has looked better for Minnesota in terms of COVID cases and hospitalizations.

After a peak of more than 250 average reported cases per 100,000 people on Jan. 27 due to the omicron surge, that number has now dwindled to somewhere in the ballpark of 70 to 80 cases per 100,000 as of mid-February, according to Mayo Clinic modeling.

The models now show the potential for even further drops by the end of February, with the average daily reported cases projected at 45 per 100,000 at the end of next week. Models from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington also show a similar drop in cases over the same time frame.

“And then beyond that, we’re still expecting this period of calm with relatively low case levels for a few months,” Mayo Clinic data scientist Dr. Curtis Storlie said. “I am optimistic about the future, but the thing to keep in mind here is, let’s not forget about it. Because the lull isn’t going to last forever.”

There is, of course, always the possibility for another variant, as Dr. Storlie and other experts have pointed out.

To prepare for any future surges and risks to hospital capacity, Storlie said that booster shots remain a huge key to tamper the effects of the virus. Currently, more than half of Minnesota’s fully-vaccinated population has received a booster shot, one of the better rates in the U.S.

However, Storlie said it’s likely that people will soon need to think about a second round of boosters. The CDC hasn’t announced any guidance on that yet, but omicron-specific boosters are already in the works.

“Yeah, I think that’s probably going to happen, at some point in the near future,” Storlie said. “We really just need to make it part of our culture for the foreseeable future, just to make sure we can push this thing into endemic status. That’s what everybody wants. We’re in the driver’s seat here. We can make that happen.”

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