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Bismarck-Burleigh Public Health (BBPH) strongly encourages COVID-19 testing prior to, and following, your holiday gatherings in the wake of Omicron’s first reported cases in the state earlier in the week.
Omicron, the newest variant of SARS-CoV-2, needed just three weeks to be responsible for the majority of the nation’s COVID-19 infections. It was first identified in the U.S. on Dec. 1, and was reportedly responsible for 73 percent of the nation’s cases on Dec. 20, the same day North Dakota’s first four cases of the variant were reported.
“We should all be taking precautions as we prepare to gather over the holidays,” said BBPH Director, Renae Moch. “There are steps we can take to gather responsibly and mitigate the health risks for ourselves and others. Get tested as close as possible to the date you plan to gather, stay home if you are sick, get vaccinated, and plan gatherings with others who have been vaccinated. We can all do our part to prevent another COVID-19 surge in the upcoming weeks.”
The Omicron variant has more than twice the mutations of the Delta variant, the variant that dominates the positive caseload in North Dakota. However, variant severity is not based on the number of mutations alone and health experts are still collecting data to determine how severe Omicron will be.
To find the nearest COVID-19 testing site to you in North Dakota, visit www.health.nd.gov/testnd. Some locations provide certain types of tests (PCR or Rapid Antigen) and may require scheduling an appointment for your test. Check with your location prior to arrival for more information.
In addition to testing, vaccination has proven to be the best public health measure to protect people from severe illness, hospitalizations and death from COVID-19. Current vaccines are expected to protect against severe illness, hospitalizations, and deaths due to infection with the Omicron variant. However, breakthrough infections in people who are fully vaccinated may occur. With other variants, like Delta, vaccines have remained effective at preventing severe illness, hospitalizations, and death. The recent emergence of Omicron further emphasizes the importance of vaccination and boosters. Getting a COVID-19 vaccination, or booster dose, has never been easier. Burleigh County facilities have administered more than 110,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses over the past 12 months.
For vaccine clinic inquiries and appointment information, as well as questions about other health programs and issues, please call BBPH at 355-1540, or you can connect with us online, or through social media: via Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. For COVID-19 data specific to Burleigh County, visit the BBPH COVID-19 Data Dashboard. For more info about COVID-19, visit the ND Department of Health website, NDResponse.gov, or CDC website.
For ongoing response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the North Dakota Department of Health has established a COVID-19 Hotline to help answer your questions. You may call 1-866-207-2880, Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. with questions. Please note that individuals seeking specific medical advice should contact their healthcare provider.