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Models show Minnesota might hit COVID peak at some point next week

Multiple models predict that cases will start falling in February, although many agree the next few weeks will be hard.

ST PAUL, Minn. — Medical experts seem to universally agree: The next few weeks will be difficult, as omicron continues to spread rampantly across the United States.

But after that, multiple models show there could be some good news on the horizon, including one model from Mayo Clinic.

Dr. Gregory Poland on Tuesday likened the COVID-19 surge in America to a Minnesota winter: “A storm blizzard of cases, that will peak sometime in January to mid-February,” he said, “and then start to see a decline.” Mayo’s data for Minnesota shows a peak possibly coming next week.  

The University of Washington’s renowned Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation makes similar predictions.

According to that model, Minnesota’s reported cases may peak at some point next week, although it notes that infections may have already peaked early this week.

Dr. Ali Mokdad, a professor of medicine and epidemiologist at the University of Washington, expanded on this data in a Zoom interview with KARE 11.

“In general, cases will start coming down the first week of February, and it will keep declining,” Mokdad said, “and will decline as fast as it went up.”

Due to the lag in reporting, however, it will likely take longer for hospitalizations and death rates to drop. Right now, in Minnesota, 96% of adult ICU beds and 94% of non-ICU beds are occupied, meaning the next few weeks will continue to test the system.

But Mokdad said he’s hopeful that by March or April, COVID could calm down and approach some sense of “normal,” so to speak.

“What we call ‘normal’ is the new COVID-19. And we should, in a couple of months, [be] in very good position. Of course, omicron will stick around,” Mokdad said. “I do worry about another variant… We will tweak the vaccine to be more relevant to the variant that’s circulating, but we will not shut down our country, and will not overwhelm our hospitals.”

Dr. Vivek Murthy, the U.S. Surgeon General, echoed some of these sentiments in a TV appearance a few days ago, although he said that the country had not reached a peak yet, and that the next few weeks would indeed be difficult.

“We’ll continue to see high numbers of cases. Our hospital systems in parts of the country are strained and that will continue, which is why the president announced that a thousand additional members of the Department of Defense were going to shore up and strengthen hospital systems across the country, and the millions of pieces of protective equipment that we have sent and will continue to send to hospital systems,” Murthy said. “A tough few weeks ahead… But I think there will be better days on the other side.”

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