O’NEILL — The North Central District Health Department announced Saturday morning that it has received confirmation that the B117 COVID-19 variant is present in Holt County.

Confirmation was received late Friday. The variant is present in a cluster of cases related to a recent large gathering, according to a press release from North Central.

Residents that have participated in recent gatherings are encouraged to monitor themselves for signs and symptoms of COVID-19. If symptoms develop get tested and talk with their doctor or call NCDHD if there are any questions.

This variant was initially detected in the United Kingdom and in the U.S. this past December. This variant seems to spread more easily and quickly than other variants, which may lead to more COVID-19 cases with the potential for increased severity.

Viruses constantly change through mutation, and new variants of a virus are expected to occur over time.

Studies suggest that antibodies generated through vaccination with currently authorized vaccines recognize these variants. This is being closely investigated and more studies are underway.

Confirmation of the variant strain in our district further stresses the importance of getting your COVID-19 vaccine as well as remaining compliant with isolation and quarantine instructions. NCDHD residents are encouraged to register to get their vaccine at www.vacinate.ne.gov.

Confirmation of your registration will be sent to you with an immediate opportunity to book a vaccination appointment. Anyone 16 and older may register. NCDHD is currently vaccinating residents 18 years and older.

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