COVID Updates for Travel Nurses: April 28, 2021
As the world’s eyes turn towards the devastating wave of cases in India, exacerbated by a lack of vital resources and the so-called double mutant variant, the situation in the U.S. seems to have calmed for now.
Here are the latest updates that travel nurses need to know about COVID-19, from vaccines to how the virus is affecting current hospitalization rates.
What’s Happening with COVID-19 Right Now
The most recent data available from the CDC shows a current COVID-19 case count of 31,883,289, which you can compare to our last case count check two weeks ago of 31,015,033. The death count too, has remained stable, with 569,272 deaths from our April 14 update of 559,172 deaths.
The New York Times COVID case map shows a stabilization of infections across the country as well as areas of the Midwest and Northeast, including Michigan, New Jersey, and New York, which had experienced a resurgence of COVID-19 cases. As recently as a week ago, Michigan was leading the nation in case counts, but does seem to be showing some signs of improvement. For example, although hospitalizations are still high in the state, they do seem to have plateaued for the time being, and new infections have dropped since last week.
Experts guess that variants are behind the surges, which demonstrate how even small areas with COVID surges can cause “outbreak pockets” leading to new variants. For instance, even if a state has a high vaccination rate overall, there are county-to-county differences where people may eschew vaccinations, allowing the virus to continue to spread and increasing the risk of mutation. Eventually, those variants could become vaccine-resistant. The COVID case map shows where these county pockets can exist — counties in states where infections are not notably higher than national averages still have counties with high rates. For instance, Pecos, TX has seen a 591% increase in cases and Ferry, Washington has had a 4,400% increase.
The situation in India is a bit of a warning to the U.S. too, as experts have pointed out their situation is foreshadowing what could happen in any country. India initially did well through coronavirus. Assuming herd immunity had been reached, the country celebrated success over the virus. But a devastating mutation wreaked havoc during a second wave, showing how all it takes is one mutation to reinfect even those with COVID-19 antibodies. Some say the U.S. should look to India to remember that even as vaccinations rise here, it’s important not to let our guard down because we don’t know what the virus will do next.
What’s Happening in Hospitals Right Now
According to the CDC, new COVID-19 infections have decreased by 10% since last week, which is good news indeed. As a comparison of where numbers are currently at, current case counts are almost 75% lower than they were during January 2021 peaks.
Despite new cases decreasing, hospitalizations are still high. They are much lower than they were in Jan., but the CDC reports a slight 1.6% increase in hospitalizations from the previous week. (CDC reporting is about a week behind, so those numbers reflect April 7-13.) In encouraging news, deaths have decreased about 3.7%.
Currently, the demands for COVID travel nursing assignments are nowhere near where they were this time last year, but there are some states that are seeing new demand. Here are some of the available travel nursing jobs right now:
- North Dakota: Med/Surg and ER, $4.8K
- New York: General MICU/SICU, ER, $4.6K
- Minnesota, COVID-ICU, $4.5K
- Michigan: MICU/SICU, Telemetry, Stepdown, $4.4-$4.8K
- Virginia: ICU, $4.4K
- Oregon: OR Circulate, $4.4K
- Idaho: ICU, $4.K
- New Jersey: Telemetry, $4K
- Pennsylvania: ER $4K
- Florida: ER, $2K
There are also many types of non-COVID travel nursing positions open, including opportunities for vaccine nurses and infusion nurses.
What’s Happening with the Vaccine
The big news of the day is the U.S. now leads the world in administered vaccinations. According to the CDC’s count, 213 million doses of the vaccine have currently been administered. 28.9% of the country has been fully vaccinated, while 37% of the population has received at least one dose, numbers that haven’t significantly increased since our last update.
As of April 19, every adult in every state was eligible to receive the vaccine, although overall, interest in the vaccine seems to have waned. It’s also been reported that millions of adults are skipping the second dose of the vaccine. Some have cited scheduling difficulties after initial vaccine delays with weather or manufacturing changed their appointment times, while others have expressed new hesitancy for the vaccine in light of news about the Johnson and Johnson vaccine.
Speaking of the J&J vaccine, after review for reported links to a serious blood clotting disorder called TTS, the FDA did recommend reinstating the emergency authorization of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
“The FDA has determined that the available data show that the vaccine’s known and potential benefits outweigh its known and potential risks in individuals 18 years of age and older,” they said in a press release. “At this time, the available data suggest that the chance of TTS occurring is very low, but the FDA and CDC will remain vigilant in continuing to investigate this risk.”
In other news:
- The CDC has announced that risk of infection from COVID-19 drops by 90% with full vaccination. So far, vaccinations seem effective against known variants as well.
- The CDC has relaxed restrictions on recommendations for wearing masks outdoors, saying fully vaccinated people do not need to wear masks outside, unless in a crowded group situation. Some states have already lifted those restrictions voluntarily while other states, like Michigan, still have outdoor mask mandates in place for anyone over the age of 2 for group activities such as youth sports.
- As more people are fully vaccinated, the CDC has also released guidelines for fully vaccinated individuals, which include not having to quarantine if you’ve been exposed to someone with COVID-19, gather indoors without a mask with other fully vaccinated individuals and without a mask with other unvaccinated people, providing they are not at risk for severe illness with COVID-19.
- The CDC is officially studying breakthrough cases, in which fully vaccinated people have still been infected with COVID-19. At least 6,0000 breakthrough cases have been reported so far. However, with breakthrough cases, COVID-19 symptoms are more likely to be less severe.