Panhandle Unified Command says 2 cases of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 have been confirmed in the Panhandle, but no details have been released on the individuals or their locations.
Panhandle Public Health District Director Kim Engel says Omicron spreads more easily than other variants, including Delta, and only one of the current monoclonal antibody treatments is effective against it.
Engel says high demand for the treatment nationwide has left it in short supply, so the best thing for Panhandle residents to do is take all necessary precautions against contracting Omicron in the first place – starting with getting vaccinated.
She says COVID vaccinations sharply decrease the risk of severe disease, hospitalization, and death from the virus, so she’s urging everyone 5 and older to get the shots and for those 16 and older to get boosters if they haven’t already.
Engel also says getting more people vaccinated reduces the chances of future COVID mutations creating variants more virulent and deadly than Omicron.
Vaccines are available at no cost at multiple locations around the area including 3 in Chadron – Western Community Health Resources and the pharmacies at Walmart and Safeway.