LINCOLN – The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) and Nebraska Public Health Lab (NPHL) have confirmed the first known cases of the Brazil variant of COVID-19, known as P.1, in the state. Two cases have been identified in Douglas County. Investigations are underway and ongoing. The P.1 variant 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 P.1 variant (and other variants). It is expected that vaccinations will remain effective.
As researchers learn more about this and other variants it remains as important as ever to continue masking, distancing, and avoiding the three Cs. 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 to help Nebraska FinishStrong.
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 March 16 over 278,100 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.