(WSVN) - A new model from the University of Florida shows a majority of Floridians will have contracted COVID-19 before this recent surge of the highly contagious omicron variant is over.

Dr. Ira Longini, a professor of biostatistics at UF, is the researcher behind the new study.

“It’ll be in the 70% to 80% range, at least, of all Floridians,” he said. “If you look at the infection curb, we already think there were a million infections right at the end of December, beginning of January.”

Longini said this variant spreads quicker, with a shorter incubation period, and something else fueled this spike in positive cases.

“The degree of immune escape is greater than we originally thought, so all that contributes to a bigger number of reported cases,” he said.

The findings come as Florida on Friday reported 76,887 new COVID cases in the state over the past 24 hours. That one-day figure is higher than at any other point during the pandemic.

But researchers said there is a bit of a silver lining: the human death toll with omicron is far lower compared to past waves.

“There’s no doubt about that. The numbers of severe cases, hospitalizations and deaths are probably about a third of what we observed for delta,” said Longini.

The research from UF also shows the state’s COVID-19 omicron wave will likely peak in mid-January at 90,000 daily cases.

As studies on COVID continue across the state and country, Longini said he’s hopeful for the near future.

“There’s no variants in the horizon of concern at the moment,” he said.

Researchers said these new numbers could put Florida in the realm of herd immunity, but if a new variant were to come along, breakthrough cases could possibly happen.

Anyone with questions and concerns about the coronavirus can call the Florida Department of Health’s 24-hour hotline at 1-866-779-6121.

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