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Researchers warn most Floridians will get COVID soon, if they haven’t already

January 12, 2022, 4:23 PM UTC

On the heels of the World Health Organization’s dire warnings about the spread of Omicron in Europe, researchers at the University of Florida say it’s likely a large percentage of that state’s population has or will be infected.

A study by the University of Florida’s Department of Biology predicts that up to 80% of the state’s population will catch Omicron before the COVID variant starts to die down, though researchers tell the Orlando Sentinel there’s no way to know for sure, given survey limitations and home testing, which often goes unreported.

“The omicron wave in Florida is likely to cause many more infections than occurred during the delta wave, potentially infecting most of the state’s population in this wave alone,” the researchers wrote in a paper published Jan. 5.

The paper does not address how the high infection rate in Florida could affect other states, as the tourism industry continues to boom in Orlando and other areas.

The study also says it expects Omicron cases to peak this week in Florida. Over Saturday and Sunday, the state reported 126,000 new cases. Florida governor Ron DeSantis has fought against many suggested protections, including mask wearing and vaccine mandates. On Tuesday, in his state of the state address, he described the Sunshine State as “the freest state in these United States,” adding “We reject the biomedical security state that curtails liberty, ruins livelihoods and divides society. And we will protect the rights of individuals to live their lives free from the yolk of restrictions and mandates.”

The Florida estimates follow a WHO forecast that more than half of the population of Europe will be infected with COVID-19 by mid-March.

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