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Lincoln – The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) and Nebraska Public Health Lab (NPHL) have confirmed the first known cases of the California variant of COVID-19, known as B.1.429 in the state. Thirteen cases in four different health jurisdictions have been identified. Nine have been identified in Douglas, two in Public Health Solutions, one in Lancaster, and one in East Central. Investigations are underway and ongoing in each jurisdiction.
Less is known about B.1.429 than other variants. It was first identified in California, and was discovered more recently than other variant strains of COVID-19. Similar to other variants, it has been spreading throughout the United States and is likely more contagious. Testing platforms like Test Nebraska and others will still produce a “positive" result for the B.1.429 variant (and other variants). It is expected that vaccinations will remain effective.
As researchers learn more about B.1.429, it remains as important as ever to continue masking, distancing, and avoiding the three C's. Get a test if you're exposed or if you develop symptoms. Register now at vaccinate.ne.gov and get the vaccine when it's offered to you.
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 capacity to sequence more than 100 specimens per week.
Nebraska's top goal remains protecting hospital capacity. The efforts undertaken by the state over the course of the emergency have resulted in significantly lower hospitalizations as compared to the last several months.
As of Feb. 25 over 222,000 Nebraskans have registered to receive the vaccine on the State's portal at vaccinate.ne.gov. Those interested in registering will need to provide name and contact information, date of birth and answer health questions used to help determine priority group eligibility. Any information entered is strictly confidential and used solely for this purpose. Friends, family and caregivers are encouraged to assist others with vaccine sign-up if needed. The DHHS Information line can assist those with limited technology, language or Internet access, and is available by calling (531) 249-1873 or (833) 998-2275.