ORLANDO, Fla. (WESH) — When it comes to pandemic trends, the proof is in the numbers.
Florida’s latest COVID status report shows improvement with the number of new cases plummeting last week compared to the week before.
“We’re heading in the right direction,” said UCF epidemiologist Elena Cyrus.
Cyrus said she is seeing the same pattern. She starts off every week with a COVID update call with the National Institutes of Health and said she is taking note of Florida’s improving new case positivity rate.
“We’re either at the peak or very close to the peak,” she said.
However, Cyrus added that Florida’s latest new case positivity rate of 26.8% is still significant.
“Mid-20s is not good. It’s not anywhere near good,” she said. “At the beginning of this epidemic, when we use classic epidemiological guidelines, we usually say anything over 1% is considered a standardized epidemic. We modified that based on COVID-19. We moved it up to 5%. Then for states like Florida, we moved it to 10%. So we keep moving that guardrail of what we consider good. But 20% is not great.”
With omicron, Cyrus said the most notable consequence is the scale of the variant’s spread instead of its milder severity.
“We’re seeing more teachers take off from school, more students out,” she said. “The health industry is being decimated. There’s not enough manpower which relates to the hospitalizations and ICUs.”
But, Cyrus also said we could soon see a positive trend where the latest peak in the pandemic potentially leads to endemic status, where COVID becomes manageable.
“We’re closer to endemic status,” she said. “Hopefully by the end of February. I would say between February and March, but then again that depends on so many other factors.”
Other factors include new variants. But Cyrus said she sees promise for the future considering omicron has proven to be a milder variant for many people. Epidemiologists are hopeful for a moment of relief.
“Now at this stage, yes, I’m very happy to see some of the rates going down, going in that direction. I’ll feel even happier in a week if I see a consistent trend along this line,” she said.