By Kate Raddatz

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Mayo Clinic’s COVID modeling team predicts Minnesota is reaching the peak of Omicron cases.

“It means we’re half done with this surge,” Mayo Clinic data scientist Dr. Curtis Storlie said. “It’s important to recognize Omicron surge is not over, there will be thousands of infections and more hospitalizations on the way back down too.”

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Storlie says it will take several more weeks to come down from the peak. He emphasized the importance of continuing to take precautions.

Mayo Clinic physician Dr. Conor Loftus said it will likely be some time before mask mandates go away.

“With the number of people hospitalized this week being the same as last week we have many weeks to go before see significant reversals,” Dr. Loftus said.

After the peak, experts believe there will be a period of low COVID cases and more normal life. Storlie said he believes there is opportunity right now to change the direction of the pandemic, but it will likely require 70-80% of the population to get booster shots.

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Currently CDC data shows just over half of eligible Americans have gotten their booster dose.

“I think this becomes less of an annual and more biannual,” Storlie said. “We have the power right now to turn this thing into the flu.”

Both Storlie and Loftus said it’s certain the virus will still mutate, but it’s less likely to become more lethal at this point, though that’s not impossible.

If boosters are not taken seriously, they believe the more disruptive pandemic could continue.

“We’re already seeing news of a new variant Omicron BA2 and our immunity is going to wane,” Storlie said. “We have to take boosting seriously if we want to put COVID behind us.”

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Storlie also said he did not think it’s inevitable that everyone will get Omicron if they take precautions.

Kate Raddatz