COVID-19 “UK” Strain Confirmed In Panhandle

The Nebraska Public Health Lab has confirmed 3 cases of the B117 strain of COVID-19, commonly called the UK variant, in the Panhandle. The victims are a teenage male, a teenage female, and a woman in her 30’s

      Panhandle Public Health District Director Kim Engel says the UK strain seems to spread more easily and more quickly than the other identified variants, which could lead to more COVID cases and ones that are more severe.

       Engel says studies suggest antibodies from the currently-authorized vaccines do recognize all the strains and if they don’t prevent cases, they do keep them from becoming severe enough to require hospitalization.

      Engel says finding the UK variant in the Panhandle reinforces the importance of getting vaccinated, especially since shots are now available to everyone of 18. Roughly 35% of Panhandle adults have received at least one dose of vaccine.

       Those who have are urged to help friends, family, and neighbors sign up for theirs by going online at or calling 833-998-2275.

       Over 918,000 doses of vaccine have been administered in Nebraska to more than 582,000 individuals. Almost 357,000 of them, roughly 24% of the state’s population over the age of 16, are now fully vaccinated.       Nebraska Health and Human Resources reported 1,343 new confirmed cases on Friday with 1 death and 46.148 active cases including 128 hospitalizations. The state has had 209,896 211,239 total cases and 2,181 deaths so far.