New York COVID-19 variant detected in Nebraska

Nebraska News

FILE – This undated electron microscope image made available by the U.S. National Institutes of Health in February 2020 shows the Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, yellow, emerging from the surface of cells, blue/pink, cultured in the lab. The sample was isolated from a patient in the U.S. According to an analysis by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published Tuesday, April 6, 2021 in JAMA Pediatrics, most children with a serious inflammatory illness linked to the coronavirus had initial COVID-19 infections with no symptoms or only mild ones, new U.S. research shows. (NIAID-RML via AP, File)

LINCOLN, Neb. (KCAU) — The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) and Nebraska Public Health Lab (NPHL) said that the New York variant of COVID-19, known as B1.526, has been detected.

According to a release, the initial case has been identified as a Douglas County resident. An investigation is underway and ongoing. The identified B1.526 variant has been spreading throughout the United States, specifically in the Northeast, and is still being studied to determine the level of contagiousness and severity. Testing platforms like Test Nebraska and others will still produce a “positive” result for the identified B1.526 variant. It is expected that vaccinations will remain effective.  

“We have continued to stress that Nebraskans cannot let up on our mitigation efforts and testing remains critical against not only the spread but preventing another major surge of COVID-19 cases,” said Nebraska’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Gary Anthone. “As these variants continue to be discovered in the state, vaccinations, testing, masking, and distancing remain the best defenses we have in this fight. I strongly encourage that individuals continue to get tested, especially if they have symptoms and have not yet been vaccinated.”

The DHHS and NPHL have been working to increase sequencing capabilities within the state. Higher volumes of in-state sequencing began in January and NPHL currently has the capacity to sequence more than 100 specimens per week. Creighton University is also sequencing roughly 100 specimens per week.

Nebraska continues to move through Phase 2B, which means anyone in the state 16 and older can get vaccinated.  There are several options available. Residents can register here, or with a local health district, interested individuals can also check with area pharmacies that may be scheduling appointments.

As of today, about 29% of Nebraskans are fully vaccinated. To schedule a vaccination appointment click here.

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