Over the last three weeks the Omicron variant has proven to be highly contagious. The number of cases and speed of their growth has far surpassed the delta surge. In the last week, almost 1 out of every 50 individuals in Orange County has tested positive for COVID-19. According to the latest FDOH report, Orange County Florida has had 27,941 new cases in the last week, with a test positivity rate of 36.2%.
This number would be completely terrifying except for the fact that many of the infections are breakthrough infections of vaccinated individuals, who for the most part are protected from serious disease. However, many vaccinated individuals are also having asymptomatic infections, so the number of infected is certainly higher than the number of positive tests, and the virus is endemic to the population.
The case numbers and test positivity rate tell you that it will be very difficult to avoid exposure to the virus, but the case numbers may not directly correlate to deaths. Currently data from the CDC for the state of Florida indicates that with the omicron surge, so far deaths have not been directly related to cases. This may be due to delays in reporting (or delays in deaths, as the omicron surge really only started a month ago), but it does appear that the omicron variant is less deadly than earlier variants of the virus.
Hospitalization and ICU bed usage numbers are likely to be more directly correlated to future deaths than straight case numbers. According to the Florida Hospital Association, as of Jan 7th, COVID-19 patients made up 16.2% of ICU bed usage. This is almost double the number (8.7%) a week ago. Adult hospitalizations with covid-19 has gone up from 4,484 on Dec 31st to 7,305 today, again, an almost doubling over the last week. At the peak of the delta surge, Florida COVID-19 hospitalizations were at 17,121, so it is possible the omicron surge will kill fewer individuals than the delta surge.