Quick decline in omicron surge expected soon in Tampa Bay, expert says

Coronavirus

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Hillsborough County reported shorter lines for people seeking a COVID test on Wednesday at the Brandon Campus of HCC, where wait times exceeded three hours on Monday.

However, an expert with USF Health said that doesn’t mean the recent surge of the omicron variant is over.

“Unfortunately, I think we are still on the up slope of the omicron surge,” said Dr Michael Teng with USF Health.

However, Teng said he believes there is hope in the near future.

“I think it’s going to peak a little quicker than we expected because I think it’s going through the population quickly so within another week or two, we should hit the peak,” said Teng, who pointed out the surge from the omicron variant has passed quickly in other countries where the virus was detected before it arrived in the United States.

“From all appearances, everywhere the omicron variant has been, it’s been a very steep increase of cases followed by a steep decrease in cases so we are seeing that in places that had it first,” he added.

Hillsborough County is currently offering two types of COVID tests at three different locations.

Dr. Kami Kim said the rapid test and the PCR test have different advantages depending on your situation.

“This PCR test that we’ve been using is our gold standard. It’s wonderful in that it’s ultra, ultra sensitive,” Kim said.

She said the rapid test is less accurate, but easy for at home use.

“They’re pretty easy to use, they don’t require fancy expertise and things like that,” Kim said. “The drawback of all of those rapid tests, and this is from the technology is they are always less sensitive.”

Howeve,r she said the rapid tests have advantages for some people who need quick results.

“If you are going to be with a family member that’s extra vulnerable, you’re part of a family gathering, it’s probably a smart thing to do some rapid testing because if one of you has COVID, you’re going to be able to protect loved ones at important family gatherings,” said Dr. Kim.

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