Worst of omicron yet to come for Midwest + 4 more forecasts to know

Some East Coast states may see new omicron cases peak this week, but the Midwest is still facing the thick of a surge, former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, MD, said Jan. 9 on CBS' "Face the Nation."

Data from New York City and Washington, D.C., already suggest the omicron surge is slowing, according to Dr. Gottlieb, who is a current member of Pfizer's board. Maryland, Florida, Delaware and Rhode Island will show similar trends this week, he predicted. 

"The risk right now is to the Midwest, where you have rising infection, where they aren't in the thick of their omicron wave yet," Dr. Gottlieb said. These states already had high hospitalization rates driven by delta infections at the start of the omicron surge. 

"Length of stay is down substantially … so that's allowing hospitals to turn over beds," he said. "But the sheer velocity of the spread right now and the number of hospitalizations is pressing them."

Four more forecasts to know this week:

1. The nation's "viral blizzard of COVID" will last until late January or early February, according to Michael Osterholm, PhD, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis. 

"We've just got to get through the next three or four weeks. I think things will be much better at the end of that," he told Sahan Journal Jan. 7. 

2. Ensemble forecasts the CDC published Jan. 5 predict that daily COVID-19 hospital admissions will increase over the next four weeks, with 24,700 to 53,700 new confirmed COVID-19 hospital admissions likely reported on Jan. 28. The current seven-day hospitalization average for Dec. 28 to Jan. 4 is 16,458, a 60.2 percent increase from the previous week's average, according to the CDC.

3. While federal health officials say it's too early to predict omicron's death toll, data from three cities hit early by omicron — New York City, Boston and Chicago — show deaths have spiked but are below levels seen during last winter's surge, according to The New York Times.

4. CDC forecasting predicts COVID-19 deaths will increase nationwide over the next month, with 19,700 to 30,500 new deaths likely reported in the week ending Jan. 29. Current forecasts should be interpreted with caution, the CDC said, as they may not fully account for omicron's rapid spread or changes in reporting during the holidays. 


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