COVID Updates for Travel Nurses: December 23, 2020
As we head into the new year, some states, like Michigan, have loosened some restrictions after reporting a decrease in new COVID-19 cases, while others, like California, continue to report hospitals at capacity and healthcare staff at their breaking point.
Airlines are recording records of travelers already — a million per day for at least three days in a row — and while it’s thought that many people in the U.S. heeded advice about staying home for Thanksgiving, experts aren’t sure if Christmas and the holiday season will show the same.
Here’s what travel nurses should know about COVID this week.
What’s Happening with COVID-19 Right Now
As of Monday evening, the CDC is reporting 17,790,376 cases (197,616 of those new), and 316,844 deaths (1,584 of those new) from COVID in the U.S.
The top 5 states with the most COVID cases by 100K people are Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, California, and Rhode Island. NPR’s state tracker also lists Arizona as a current hot spot with unchecked community spread of the virus. There’s also been some concern over a new variant strain of COVID-19 that has been discovered in the UK, although travel hasn’t been banned from the US to the UK as of yet.
What’s Happening in Hospitals Right Now
According to the CDC, hospitalizations peaked in November and have declined. However, the CDC fully expects those numbers — especially with holiday season in full swing — to start to increase again. Deaths related to pneumonia, influenza and COVID are also slightly on the decline as well, although again, the CDC is expecting them to rise again. As of Monday, 1/5 of hospitals with ICUs report that they are at 95% capacity, says the New York Times.
Travel Nurse News + Opportunities
The combination of healthcare staff burnout, staff getting sick or quarantined and the holiday season when staff may have already had scheduled time off, there continues to be a high need for travel nurses who are willing to take on COVID assignments. Here are some of the highest-paying opportunities for travel nursing right now:
- California: over $9.4K for ICU/MICU/SICU
- Idaho and Texas: over $8.4K for Cardio ICU
- Massachusetts: over $7.8K for ICU/MICU/SICU
- New Jersey: over $7.4K for ICU/MICU/SICU/Telemetry
- Pennsylvania and Rhode Island: over $7.3K for Med/Surg/Telemetry/ICU
What’s Happening with the Vaccine
There’s also been some big movement on the COVID-19 vaccine. Many prominent public officials, including Mike Pence and President-Elect Joe Biden, who received the first dose of the Pfizer vaccine live on television on Monday, Monday December 21st. Allergic reactions are also being closely monitored — so far, the CDC is reviewing a total of 6 allergic reactions to the Pfizer Biotech vaccine have been reported.
What does that mean for healthcare workers with allergies? Well, the CDC recommends that if you have had a severe allergic reaction to any ingredient in the COVID-19 vaccine, you should not get the vaccine. If you have a history of severe allergic reactions that aren’t related to vaccines or injectable medications, however—such as allergies to food, pet, venom, environmental, or latex — you may still get vaccinated. People with a history of allergies to some medications taken by mouth may also still get vaccinated. Talk to your doctor about your own health history.
The second COVID-19 vaccine, by Moderna, was also approved and began arriving in states across the country on Monday. The two vaccines are very similar and both must be given in 2 doses, but the Moderna has the practical advantage of not needing dry ice temperatures before administration. If you’re a frontline healthcare worker and on a travel nursing assignment, be sure to speak with your agency about when you can get the vaccine. And if you’re able to get that vaccine, be sure to hold onto your vaccine card — you never know when it might come in handy.