What COVID-19 variants are going around in February 2024?
Get the latest COVID-19 news from infectious diseases expert Mark Rupp, MD, including COVID-19 case rates, types of variants circulating and vaccine updates.
There are currently more than 22,970 patients hospitalized in the United States per week, with 10% of those being ICU patients. The most recent data on the test positivity rate is from the week ending February 10, which was 9.3%. When test positivity is above 5%, transmission is considered uncontrolled.
Since many are using home tests that are not reported through public health or are not testing at all, the official case counts underestimate the actual prevalence of COVID-19.
What COVID-19 variant are we on?
Currently, the dominant variant nationwide is JN.1, with 96.4% of cases, followed by HV.1, with 1% of cases, and JG.3, with .6% of cases. "The original omicron variant is gone now," says Dr. Rupp. "Currently subvariants of omicron are circulating, including BA.2.86, JD.1.1, and GE.1."
COVID-19 in Nebraska
In the week ending February 17, 2024, there were 7,154 COVID-19 tests performed in Nebraska, with 635 positive results. This is a 8.9% positivity rate, down .7% from the week prior.
Which COVID-19 variant do I have? And do COVID-19 tests tell you the variant?
When you receive a COVID-19 test, you won't find out which variant caused your infection. That's because COVID-19 tests only detect the presence of the virus – they don't determine the variant.
Genomic sequencing looks at the genetic code of the virus to determine which variant caused the infection. Sequencing results are used by public health experts to understand variant trends in the community.
Will COVID-19 variants affect the vaccine?
The best way to prevent new variants is to slow the spread of the virus. The great news is that these proven public health strategies continue to work against new variants as well.
- Get vaccinated
- Choose outdoor activities over indoor activities whenever possible
- Wash your hands often
- Avoid close contact with others
- Wear a mask in public places
- Stay home if you're sick or have symptoms of COVID-19
"We have a lot of disease out there. People should continue to be careful," Dr. Rupp says. "Get the bivalent booster, try to avoid high-risk settings. If you can't, then I think you should wear a mask."
Get your COVID vaccine
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends everyone 6 months and older get updated COVID-19 vaccines this fall. Vaccination remains the best protection against COVID-19-related hospitalization and death.
Our pharmacies offer COVID-19 vaccines on a walk-in basis. View which vaccines are available at each location.