By Kate Raddatz

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — As COVID-19 cases surge in Minnesota, other parts of the country are seeing cases ease up.

New York State reported 48,000 cases of COVID-19 on Friday. That is close to a 50% drop from the number of cases just a week earlier.

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Data Scientist Dr. Curtis Storlie, who works in the Mayo Clinic Kern Center, says right now projections from Mayo’s COVID Modeling Team show Minnesota will see its peak of Omicron cases around Jan. 23, give or take a week. And he believes we will see record case numbers.

“Roughly around three times as high for cases than our worst previous surge, which was, you know, back in fall of 2020,” Dr. Storlie said. “The good news is we are getting pretty close.”

Places like New York City and Miami also saw record numbers, but are now having drastic drop offs.

“We’ve got a very similar pattern going on to what actually we saw in New York, just delayed,” he said.

The Omicron variant (credit: CBS)

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Once Omicron cases do peak in Minnesota, what can we expect after that?

“That’s the million-dollar question, right?” Dr. Storlie said.

A model shows cases in April returning to levels from early fall or even late summer. Dr. Storlie says the hope is that the more-contagious Omicron virus is the beginning state of COVID-19 becoming endemic, and that future surges would cause fewer hospitalizations.

“I think we’re gonna have, you know, this honeymoon period after the peak,” he said.

What really happens after that, he says, is hard to say, but will likely depend on which way the virus decides to mutate — and if the population takes booster shots seriously.

“If we take boosting seriously, you know, the vaccine makers are only gonna get better and more efficient at targeting, you know, the current variants,” Dr. Storlie said.

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He says it’s still important for people to take precautions to prevent additional strain on the healthcare system. He does think a large portion of the population will contract the disease, but does not think it is necessarily inevitable to get it.

Kate Raddatz