It seems like almost everybody in the Garden State is suddenly coming down with COVID.

Thanks to the rapid spread of the highly contagious omicron variant, the number of new positive cases recorded in New Jersey is setting new records almost every day while hospitalizations and COVID deaths keep rising.

Many New Jersey residents are wondering how much longer the surge can last.

According to Dr. Annette Reboli, an infectious disease expert and dean of the Cooper Medical School at Rowan University, we are learning a lot about omicron, in large measure because of what’s been happening in South Africa where the variant was first identified. But no one is sure what will happen next.

Hopeful signs

She said in other locations with omicron what we’re seeing is “there’s a very sharp spike and then it starts coming down."

COVID cases could spike even higher

However, she pointed out as dramatic as the uptick in new COVID cases has been in the past several days, things could soon get even worse.

Reboli said we may actually not see new cases spike for several weeks.

“The predictive modeling showed a spike anywhere from mid to late January in New Jersey and then numbers going down after that,” she said.

A silver lining?

She pointed out what has happened in other parts of the world would suggest once omicron infections peak they will rapidly drop.

“That is the sort of silver lining to the cloud of this: it’s that hopefully the sharp spike happens and then it comes down very, very quickly,” she said.

It's still dangerous

She noted with omicron symptoms tend to be milder in most people but “the wildcard remains the unvaccinated, or those with significant medical conditions.”

Reboli pointed out while new cases are exploding, the rise in hospitalizations has been less intense but we should not be lulled into complacency.

“Even though the vast majority of people have mild symptoms, there will still be a critical mass of people who are in the sicker end of the curve,” she said.

You can contact reporter David Matthau at David.Matthau@townsquaremedia.com.

Omicron impact on COVID cases in NJ

As the COVID-19 pandemic approaches its third calendar year in New Jersey, some things have stayed true (hand-washing, advice to vaccinate) while others have evolved along with the latest variant (less monoclonal antibody treatments, new at-home anti-viral pills).

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