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Nebraska watching for new strain of COVID-19 as vaccination rollout continues

Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts gives an update on the state's COVID-19 response on Wednesday...
Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts gives an update on the state's COVID-19 response on Wednesday morning, Jan. 6, 2020.
Published: Jan. 6, 2021 at 9:18 AM CST
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LINCOLN, Neb. (WOWT) - Nebraska officials said Wednesday they are on the lookout for the new strain of COVID-19 positively identified in Colorado as the state’s vaccination rollout continues.

Dr. Gary Anthone, chief medical officer of Nebraska’s Department of Health and Human Services, gave a report on the new mutant strain of COVID that was first identified in the U.K. but has since been confirmed in Colorado. The strain, known as SARS-Cov-2, is more contagious than the strain originally identified, but does appear to be covered by the COVID-19 vaccine currently available, he said.

“Viruses mutate all the time,” Anthone said during the governor’s update.

The main concern about the new strain is an increase in hospitalizations, he said. The governor said that it’s likely there are

“This now even stresses the need more than ever to continue the practice of wearing your mask, keeping your distance, washing your hands, following the ‘three C’s’ that the governor goes over in his press conferences every time; and hopefully we can keep this under control as we roll out our vaccinations,” Anthone said.

The governor said the state is “actively monitoring” for the new strain here as people are tested for COVID-19.

The state is working to schedule vaccine distribution to long-term care facilities via Nebraska’s pharmacy program, Ricketts said. Other doses are going directly to local health departments or to hospitals, particularly the Pfizer doses, which require ultra-cold storage.

Following his comment on the matter during his Monday news conference, Ricketts talked more about vaccinating all meat-packing employees — including undocumented employees — as part of the Phase 1 vaccine rollout.

While stressing that all employees must be legal by a matter of law, “they won’t be asked to show ID. We don’t ask for proof of citizenship,” he said.

This is a developing story. Stay with 6 News for updates.

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