SALT LAKE CITY — The contagiousness of the omicron variant could be compared to acceleration and it appears to have something in common with other fast things.
Cheetahs run faster than any animal, but only for 20-30 second spurts. The fastest Ferrari runs out of gas fast — it gets 13 miles per gallon. Omicron appears to roar to dominate the COVID-19 landscape, only to slow down at a similar rate.
We'll start by clocking the two biggest COVID-19 variants from 0-to-95 percent of infections in Utah. It took the delta variant 19 weeks to dominate to the same degree.
When omicron hit 95 percent, Utah was averaging over three thousand new cases a day. When delta hit 95 percent, Utah averaged about 570 new cases each day.
Considering the overwhelming case numbers, a much smaller percentage of people infected are going to the hospital, but it's still more patients than Utah hospitals have seen in the pandemic.
One month ago, 443 Utahns were hospitalized with COVID-19, with 182 in the ICU. At last count, 756 Utahns were hospitalized with the infection. That's a record high, besting the previous mark of 606 set in December 2020.
Omicron has not set a record yet for ICU patient numbers. That was on October 7, 2021 with 239.
So, where’s the evidence omicron might slow down now that it’s taken over?
The first country with an outbreak was South Africa. They accelerated for FOUR weeks, then slowed down almost as quickly. In Europe, omicron was first detected in the UK and it took them four weeks to peak as well.
Here in the U.S. the last week tracked by Johns Hopkins University was the fourth week. We'll have to see if we follow the same course.