LINCOLN, Neb. (KMTV) — Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts and Chief Medical Officer Dr. Gary Anthone discussed a new, likely more infectious strain of COVID-19 that’s been detected in five states during a press conference Wednesday.
The B117 “U.K. strain” of COVID-19 has been identified in Colorado, California, Florida, New York and Georgia so far.
Dr. Anthone said while the new strain appears to be more infectious, it doesn’t seem more severe.
He added it appears to be covered by the COVID-19 vaccine and is detected by current testing platforms.
Transmissibility may be increased 1.5 times with the new strain.
Dr. Anthone mentioned it’s well known that mutations commonly take place in viruses. Since the variant is more easily spread, it could lead to an increase in hospitalizations.
He stressed the need to continue wearing masks, socially distancing and washing hands.
Gov. Ricketts said the state is actively monitoring the new strain since our neighbor state, Colorado, has seen some cases. Certain commercial labs can detect it, he added.
During a press conference Monday, Gov. Ricketts mentioned needing to be a documented citizen to be working at meatpacking plants, so whether to vaccinate undocumented workers at the plants is “not an issue.”
U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez tweeted the following on Tuesday in response to Gov. Ricketts’ comment:
Imagine being so racist that you go out of your way to ensure that the people who prepare *your* food are unvaccinated. https://t.co/QtWoJ6XG72— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) January 5, 2021
During his press conference Wednesday, the governor criticized Rep. Ocasio-Cortez, saying she is someone who “does not care about Nebraska or the people in Nebraska,” adding that she’s someone who wants to have “open borders, socialism and promoted the Green New Deal.”
Gov. Ricketts said that despite Rep. Ocasio-Cortez’s tweets, the state will continue to work on its vaccination plan.
Rep. Ocasio-Cortez responded to the governor’s criticism on Twitter Wednesday:
And @GovRicketts if the reporting about denying vaccine access to undocumented workers is “fake news,” I am happy to be corrected by you publicly stating that all undocumented Nebraskans, including meatpacking workers, will have access to the vaccine. Thank you! ☺️— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) January 6, 2021
Gov. Ricketts clarified his earlier comments, saying "to be able to be working at these plants, you have to be legal. By matter of law, by definition, you're legal if you're working at these plants." He mentioned if someone is working there illegally, it is the responsibility of the company to report to ICE.
He added that no I.D. or proof of residency will be required for plant workers to get the vaccine as “that should’ve been done in the first place” when applying for employment.
Watch his remarks below or on our Facebook page.