COVID Updates for Travel Nurses: December 2, 2021
Unfortunately, after a season of what appeared to be major improvements, the last two weeks have brought a significant rise in COVID-19 cases again.
In fact, some states, such as Michigan — currently leading the nation in COVID cases — have a higher number of cases of COVID-19 hospitalizations than at any point in the pandemic so far. It’s troubling news, especially considering Michigan was an early leader in COVID-19 cases last year, with the rest of the nation following. Many experts are concerned history could repeat itself.
Additionally, the new variant, Omicron, is making headlines as a new “variant of concern,” although data on just how dangerous the variant could be is not fully understood yet.
Regardless, it appears we’re heading into a challenging winter, so here’s what you can expect if you’re a travel nurse, along with some of the highest-paying travel nurse COVID jobs available right now.
What’s happening with COVID-19 right now
According to the CDC’s weekly data, COVID cases have increased considerably nation-wide. There are about 88,482 new cases being reported every day.
Here are some brief data points about the numbers:
- Cases are up 16.1% from the previous week
- Percent positivity of tests is 6%
- The Delta variant is still accounting for majority of all cases
- To date, the U.S. has seen a total of 48,160,971 cases of COVID
Interestingly, despite the higher case load, the weekly death rate for COVID-19 is actually down 2.4% from the previously tracked average, with an average of 1,032 deaths per week, compared to prior 7-day average of 1,058.
Should you worry about the Omicron variant?
Omicron is a variant first identified in South Africa on November 8, 2021. It’s now been detected in 19 countries, including the United States, and travel restrictions have been set in an attempt to slow its spread.
After the World Health Organization (WHO) called an emergency meeting on Friday to discuss the Omicron variant, they have released a public update noting it’s not yet clear whether the Omicron variant is any more transmissible or dangerous than the Delta variant.
However, the Omicron variant has been labeled a “variant of concern” because its mutations could be more infectious and more able to evade the immune system, even in those who have been vaccinated.
Early data from a South African scientist has indicated that so far, COVID cases from Omicron are seemingly mild. Still, it will take weeks to confirm whether the variant is any more of a threat than previous mutations.
What’s happening in hospitals right now
Hospitalizations across all age groups have risen, to 5.4% from the previous week. There is currently an average of 5,456 people hospitalized weekly. The rate of hospitalizations is still much higher among unvaccinated people than in vaccinated people, but breakthrough cases are increasing as well. Experts suspect this may be due to waning immunity in people who were vaccinated early and the emergence of new variants.
The New York Times COVID map and tracker continue to give a helpful overview of what’s happening with COVID around the country. According to its data:
- Overall, cases have continued to increase in the US, but the Midwest and Northeast are the worst
- Thanksgiving numbers aren’t in yet, and experts expect some uptick in cases as a result of holiday gatherings and travel
- Michigan continues to lead the country with around 8K new cases per day
- Massachusetts and Indiana are reporting huge increases in cases, by as much as 80 and 70 percent, respectively
If you’re looking to travel to a hard-hit area or are just wondering what kind of rates are available for travel nursing jobs right now, below is a sampling of some of the current travel nursing positions available.
Current COVID-19 travel nursing jobs
- OR: $8.1K/week
- L&D: $6.7-$7.4K/week
- GI Endo, MICU/SICU, ER: $7.8K/week
- ER: $6.4K/week
- Cardiac ICU: $7K/week
- MICU/SICU: $8K/week
- Stepdown: $7.5K/week
- Med/Surg: $6.7K/week
- MICU/SICU, ER: $6.8K/week
- ER: $6.7K/week
- Indiana, MICU/SICU: $7.2K/week
- L&D: $7K/week
- L&D, ER: $6.5-$6.4K/week
- Michigan, Med/Surg/Telemetry, MICU/SICU: $6.9K/week
- Minnesota, PICU, NICU Level 3, Pediatrics: $6.5K/week
- Montana, ICU-Coronary Care Unit: $6.3K/week
- New Jersey, MICU/SICU: $7.1K/week
- New York
- PICU: $6.9K/week
- NICU Level III: $6.7K/week
- North Dakota
- Stepdown-Cardiac: $6.8K/week
- ER: $6.3K/week
- Oregon, L&D: $6.7K/week
- Pennsylvania, Stepdown, ER, Med/Surg, Telemetry, ER: $7.2K/week
- Rhode Island, ER: $6.2K/week
- Wisconsin, PICU: $ 7.2K/week
- Wyoming, L&D: $6.3K/week
What’s happening with the vaccine
Over 2 million children ages 5-11 received the COVID vaccine, according to the CDC.
Vaccine numbers for people aged 12+ are coming in at similar numbers, showing that many parents were eager to vaccinate the 5-11 crowd.
According to the CDC, a total of 196.8 million people in the U.S. have been fully vaccinated. There are now:
- 70.1% of the U.S. population with at least one dose
- 59.3% of the US population with full vaccination
- 40.2 million Americans who have received the booster dose
If you’re a nurse, odds are you’ll probably be offered your flu shot soon if you haven’t been offered one already. The CDC does say it’s perfectly safe to get your COVID booster and your flu vaccine at the same time. In fact, some nurses are purposefully scheduling both at the same time so they will only have to potentially recover from normal side effects once.
The FDA also gave the green light for people to receive mixed dose boosters. A mixed dose booster means that you can get a different type of booster from the original type of COVID-19 vaccine you received.
If you’re on the fence about a booster, the CDC now recommends anyone who has been fully vaccinated and is over the age of 18 receive a booster dose.
The recommendations are:
- Moderna/Pfizer: at least 6 months after completing your original two-shot series
- Johnson & Johnson: at least 2 months after receiving your original shot
Most hospitals, healthcare facilities, and local health departments have started offering booster doses to people who fall under those guidelines, and some hospitals are even requiring staff to get boosters.