The B117 COVID variant has been confirmed in the Panhandle.
Confirmation was received late Friday of a teen male, teen female, and female in her 30s from the Nebraska Public Health Lab testing and notification from the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services. Any close contacts identified will be quarantined to slow the spread.
This variant was initially detected in the UK and in the US this past December. This variant seems to spread more easily and quickly than other variants which may lead to more COVID cases with the potential for increased severity. Viruses constantly change through mutation, and new variants of a virus are expected to occur over time.
So far, studies suggest that antibodies generated through vaccination with currently authorized vaccines recognize these variants. This is being closely investigated and more studies are underway.
“Finding this strain in the Panhandle reinforces the importance of getting your COVID vaccine. Consider it your molecular PPE and one of the best protection against this insidious virus. Now that it’s available to anyone over 18, we urge you to get it,” said Kim Engel, Panhandle Public Health District Director.
Anyone in the Panhandle age 18 and older can get a COVID vaccine. Roughly 35% of Panhandle adults have received the COVID vaccine. People are urged to help friends, family, and neighbors sign up for theirs. This can be done by going to https://vaccinate.ne.gov or calling 833-998-2275.
Vaccines are one of the single greatest achievements in public health, be sure to get your COVID shot when it’s your turn. People who are fully COVID vaccinated will not be required to quarantine due to close contact.
If you have received your first dose and have not heard when you will receive your second dose, don’t fret, you will be contacted by the vaccine provider that administered your first dose. If you have lost your COVID vaccine card, go to https://tinyurl.com/2zh7uhhu.
Avoid the Three Cs:
- Avoid Crowded Places – Avoid gathering in groups where you cannot maintain 6-feet of distance from others
- Avoid Close Contact – Wear a mask over your nose and mouth or maintain 6-feet distance when you are spending more than 15 total minutes with people you don’t live with
- Avoid Confined Spaces – Avoid enclosed spaces with poor ventilation
Current COVID testing access can be found at www.pphd.org.