WASHINGTON - The country’s top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, predicted Sunday that COVID-19 cases induced by the omicron variant will peak next month.
Fauci said he was "as confident as you can be" that states will hit their highest point of infections in February to ABC News’ "This Week." However, he noted cases should start dropping off after that, as seen in other countries, but that the virus is still unpredictable.
"You never want to be overconfident when you're dealing with this virus," he said. "Things are looking good. We don't want to get overconfident, but they look like they're going in the right direction right now."
But he also said areas with low vaccination rates may still have an uphill battle.
"There may be a bit more pain and suffering with hospitalizations in those areas of the country that have not been fully vaccinated or have not gotten boosters," he added.
Fauci also expressed hope that the U.S. will get the virus under control.
"Control means you're not eliminating it, you're not eradicating it, but it gets down to such a low level, that it's essentially integrated into the general respiratory infections that we have learned to live with," he continued. "We'd like it to get down to that level where it doesn't disrupt us in the sense of getting back to a degree of normality. That's the best-case scenario."
Health officials are urging people to get boosted, and Fauci said another booster isn’t out of the realm of possibility given that the first Americans received their first booster during the fall season. He said he hopes the first booster would provide enough protection.
"We may need to boost again, but before we make that decision, we want to determine what the durability is," he added.
Scientists are seeing signals that COVID-19′s alarming omicron wave may have peaked in Britain and is about to do the same in the U.S. The reason: The variant has proved so wildly contagious that it may already be running out of people to infect, just a month and a half after it was first detected in South Africa.
Some U.S. cities, including those in the northeast, believe omicron infections have already peaked.
In Chicago, COVID-19 test positivity peaked at nearly 20% on Jan. 1 and is about 13% currently. The peak of daily cases was 8,553 on Jan. 4 and currently is averaging just under 3,000 a day. Hospitalizations haven’t dropped but started to plateau. Public health officials said the city is "nowhere near" dropping its indoor mask mandate, vaccination proof at indoor venues and no states are coming off the city’s travel advisory list, which currently covers the whole country.
In Connecticut, doctors at the two largest health care systems say they believe the latest wave of the COVID-19 pandemic may have peaked in the state.
According to FOX 5 New York, the state reported fewer than 28,000 new COVID cases Saturday, with a positivity rate of 9.2%, the lowest since December 19, and the second day in a row the state's positivity rate dropped below 10 percent.
Nationwide, infection rates fell week-over-week in 19 states, with the northeast, which had seen the biggest numbers of new cases, now seeing a 40% drop. Cases are still rising slightly in the midwest and south, but the pace has slowed down.
"I think if you take a 1,000-foot overview, you’re starting to see again a decrease in the rate of rise and that’s very important," Dr. Ulysses Wu, the chief of infectious disease at Hartford HealthCare, said. "So, if you look at it like we’re riding a roller coaster, we’re maybe nearing the top at this point, for at least this curve at this point."
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, COVID-19 cases are starting to fall. The seven-day moving average stands around 716,000. That’s down from 797,000 more than a week ago.
FOX News and the Associated Press contributed to this report. This story was reported from Los Angeles.