ARKANSAS (KNWA/KFTA) — The pandemic has been present in the United States for almost two years and doctors say its hard to predict what could be in store for COVID-19 in 2022.

Dr. Jennifer Dillaha with the Arkansas Department of Health said Arkansas is still not at the peak of the Omicron variant.

“We’re still on the increase and we’ve got to prepare for an increased number of cases and an increasing number of hospitalizations,” Dillaha said.

However, Arkansas Secretary of Health Dr. Jose Romero said the peak could be coming in the next few weeks after seeing a decrease in new COVID-19 cases in the 19-24 age range this week.

“It is a positive sign, that was the first group to go up and is starting to trend downward, we believe we may begin seeing some downward trends in the number of cases,” Romero said.

Dr. Mark Williams, dean of the college of public health at UAMS, said if another variant comes after Omicron it’s hard to say if it would be more or less severe.

“All of these speculations about oh, well, the virus will mutate towards a less virulent form, we don’t know, Williams said. “It could mutate towards a more virulent form.”

Williams said whether or not COVID-19 will become less severe this year has a lot to do with vaccination rates not just in Arkansas and the country, but also globally.

“There are a lot of people out there that have not been vaccinated and a lot of room you might say for this virus to move around,” Williams said.

Williams said the main focus should still be on fighting Omicron.