Local Outlook: Omicron could peak next week according to Mayo Clinic experts

Omicron Could Peak Next Week
Published: Jan. 19, 2022 at 6:35 PM CST
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ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) – Wednesday, KTTC heard from Mayo Clinic experts on where the state is right now with COVID-19, and the peak of positive Omicron cases in Minnesota may be closer than we think.

“We’re seeing a peak starting to happen in Minnesota as early as even in the next week,” said Mayo Clinic Data Scientist Curtis Storlie.

Soon after we saw COVID-19 first appear in the U.S., Mayo Clinic’s Predictive Analytics Task Force began tracking it.

Each new variant is different though, according to these experts, and poses a new challenge.

With Omicron, Mayo was able to look to other places in the U.S. like Miami, Cleveland and New York. This is something it has not necessarily been able to do before.

“It’s not going to be exactly the same but we got to observe, we hadn’t seen Omicron spread in the U.S. prior to it starting to happen in some of those places early so we kind of had a heads up,” said Storlie.

After this upcoming peak, Mayo expects an abrupt decline in cases for several weeks before we see more “normal” numbers.

“The hospital is very full, and the same as hospitals nationwide,” said Conor Loftus, chair of Mayo Clinic outpatient practice.

What does “very full” mean? Is the Mayo Clinic hospital here in Rochester seeing a bed shortage?

“I would say a primary limiting factor is really the staffing more than beds are an issue, but having staff to look after the patients given staff absences has been a major factor here,” said Loftus.

When it comes to seeing another variant after Omicron, Mayo says it is hard to predict if and when that would happen as of right now.

“How willing is the population as a whole willing to embrace boosters and getting on a regular schedule with that because we’ll have a pretty robust immunity here for a while, for a honeymoon period, and cases will be low, and for several months, in all likelihood, but then it’s up to us,” said Storlie.

I also asked these Mayo experts about their thoughts on Rochester’s local mask mandate.

They said they do believe it will help flatten the peak of the Omicron variant and confirmed that cloth masks are not as effective as KN-95s and N-95s against it.

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