Omicron variant confirmed in South Heartland Health District
HASTINGS, Neb. (KSNB) - The first confirmed case of the SARS-CoV-2 omicron variant in a South Heartland resident was reported today to South Heartland District Health Department. Executive Director Michele Bever said the positive sequencing test was detected in a fully-vaccinated and boosted individual who had traveled outside of Nebraska in December. Symptoms were extremely mild and no additional spread from this case to others has been identified.
Bever said evidence demonstrates that the Omicron variant is more contagious than the Delta variant and that vaccination is still protecting against severe illness.
In the weekly COVID-19 update, South Heartland District Health Department (SHDHD) reported another death attributed to COVID-19 and continuing high levels of SARS-CoV-2 virus transmission in the four-county health district. Executive director Michele Bever said due to sustained high community transmission of the virus, the local COVID-19 Advisory would remain in effect into the new year.
SHDHD continues to recommend using multiple layers of prevention to reduce the risk of infection, severe illness, hospitalization and death, including:
- Getting fully vaccinated and boosted
- Getting tested before attending indoor gatherings, especially around individuals who are at higher risk of severe infection.
- Avoiding crowded places or confined indoor spaces
- Staying home when you have symptoms
- Wearing a mask over your nose and mouth in public indoor settings
- Washing hands frequently
- Keeping 6 feet distance from others
- If you have been exposed to someone with COVID-19, getting tested before being around others.
“Full vaccination plus a booster is the best way to protect yourself from severe illness and the need for hospitalization from COVID-19. In light of the omicron variant spreading rapidly across the country and now detected in South Heartland District, vaccination as a protective layer is more important than ever,” Bever said.
Bever encourages residents to contact their personal doctor or the health department if they have questions about the COVID-19 vaccine, additional doses for immunocompromised individuals, booster doses, or COVID-19 testing. COVID-19 vaccines are widely available across the four-county health district and recommended for anyone 5 years and older. Boosters are available for all adults 18 and over when they are eligible and today the FDA authorized the Pfizer booster for 12-15-year-olds. For locations of COVID-19 tests or COVID-19 vaccine, refer to the SHDHD website, southheartlandhealth.org. Contact South Heartland District Health Department at 402-462-6211 or 877-238-7595.
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