(Undated) -- Nebraska becomes the sixth state in the U.S. to report the COVID-19 omicron variant as six cases are detected in the southeast part of the state.
The Department of Health and Human Services, the Nebraska Public Health Solutions District, and the Nebraska Public Health Laboratory announced that the omicron variant was in the state on Friday. Health leaders say the first person was likely exposed during international travel to Nigeria. They say that person then returned to Nebraska on November 23rd and became symptomatic on November 24th. The five remaining cases were likely exposed through household contact with the first case.
According to a release, the patient self-identified their travel history, sought testing, and alerted the Nebraska Public Health Solutions District. A team from PHS promptly investigated and coordinated testing for sequencing to identify a variant, and sequencing was completed through NPHL. The Nebraska Public Health Solutions District, based in Crete, serves Fillmore, Gage, Jefferson, Saline, and Thayer counties.
DHHS Acting State Epidemiologist Dr. Matthew Donahue said, “The identification of omicron reinforces the urgency for Nebraskans to get vaccinated. The more Nebraskans are vaccinated, the less opportunity new SARS-CoV-2 variants will have to take hold in the state. With delta, which is the current predominant variant, unvaccinated Nebraskans are filling hospitals at a rate 10 times higher than vaccinated Nebraskans. We are doing our part to find new variants when they emerge and arrive in the state, older Nebraskans have done their part in getting vaccinated at high rates; we need younger Nebraskans to keep stepping up to protect themselves and each other by choosing to get vaccinated.”
Health leaders say only one of the six cases were vaccinated, but that none of them have required hospitalization. Case investigations and contact tracing are ongoing.