COVID Updates for Travel Nurses: January 20, 2021
We’re well into the new year and we’re about to swear in a new President, but as far as COVID-19 updates go, it seems like more of the same frustrating news. The pandemic continues, with some areas of the country seeing record-high numbers and deaths. LA County, for example, has had so many deaths that they actually had to limit the number of cremations taking place because it was affecting the air quality.
Meanwhile, new variants of the COVID-19 virus continue to pop up and vaccination efforts still lag behind ideal numbers, so it’s hard to say with certainty if a clear end to this fight is yet in sight.
Here are some of the vital updates on COVID-19 for travel nurses and what areas are hiring high-paying positions right now.
What’s Happening with COVID-19 Right Now
The numbers for COVID at the moment are definitely alarming. The U.S. passed 400,000 deaths this week and saw an increase of over 4 million infections in the past month alone.
As of January 9th, the most recent complete data available from the CDC shows an overall average increase in infections, illnesses and deaths from COVID after a decline in the previous three weeks. According to their report, many areas and numbers are still catching after the delay from holiday reporting.
NPR’s state tracker shows the top 5 states with the most COVID cases by 100K people are Arizona, California, South Carolina, Rhode Island, and Oklahoma. Tennessee dropped from the list from our last update, replaced with South Carolina. Arizona has a higher infection rate per 100K people, but California is still reporting an astonishing rate of 39,124 new infections every day.
What’s Happening in Hospitals Right Now
According to the CDC, hospitalizations peaked in December and have appeared to be on the decline, but experts say those numbers may not be fully accurate yet. Any mitigating effects of community efforts or vaccinations will not be reflected in hospitalizations for many months to come. For now, experts are staying cautious about staying ahead of staffing and safety efforts.
All that to say: the need for travel nurses is still high.
Here are some of the highest-paying opportunities for travel nursing right now:
- Nevada: $10K for ICU/MICU/SICU
- California: $10K for ICU/MICU/SICU
- Maryland: over $8K for ICU/MICU/SICU
- Texas: over $7.6K for ICU/MICU/SICU
- North Dakota: over $7.6K for ICU/MICU/SICU
- New Jersey: over $7.6K for ICU/MICU/SICU/Telemetry
- Pennsylvania: over $7.3K for Med/Surg/Telemetry/ICU
- Rhode Island: $7.3K for ICU/MICU/SICU
In addition to the high paying 10K positions in Nevada and California, those states also have other opportunities ranging from $7-8K for other positions, such as ER.
What’s Happening with the Vaccine
The vaccine situation right now is… well, challenging. Vaccine administration numbers are overall pretty low and reports show that larger-than-expected numbers of healthcare workers continue to refuse the initial rounds of the vaccine.
CDC numbers state that 10.6 million people have received at least one dose of the vaccine and only 1.6 million have been fully vaccinated — primarily nursing home residents (1.4 million). Of the 31 million vaccine doses distributed to states, it’s estimated that only about half of those have been given.
In other vaccine news:
- Norway has stopped recommending the vaccine for terminally ill individuals and those over age 85 after 29 people died. 16 of those deaths are still being assessed.
- Vaccines from a Moderna lot are being investigated after a California county reported a significant number of allergic reactions following administration.
- Moderna is struggling to find children aged 12-18 to participate in the next phase of the clinical trial. Interested participants can sign up here.
- Part of President Biden’s COVID-19 response plan will focus on ramping up vaccine production.
- Phase 3 for the single- dose Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine is expected to begin in late January.
TravelNursing.org has also spoken with travel nurses who have reported significant challenges in getting the COVID-19 vaccine for themselves due to their status as a traveler. Some hospitals are limiting the vaccine to staff nurses, leaving travel nurses on their own to find a way to get the vaccine.
If you are having trouble getting your vaccine through your agency or current contracted hospital, it may be helpful to contact your state or local health department for advice on how to obtain the vaccine.