COVID Updates for Travel Nurses: January 6, 2021
From post-holiday numbers to travel nurse opportunities to the latest on the vaccine, here are the new year COVID updates for travel nurses.
With reports of a COVID-19 variant spreading across the globe, some countries, like the UK and Germany, have imposed fresh–and strict–lockdowns. In the U.S., the new variant has been detected and may even be to blame for California’s current staggering outbreak, but the new strain has not led to new lockdowns here in the states yet.
However, many states, California, included, are feeling the post-holiday infection strain. Airlines recorded yearly and pandemic travel numbers, albeit still much lower than pre-epidemic levels, over the holidays and while numbers still continue to get caught up, it’s clear at least some of the new cases can be attributed to holiday gatherings.
What’s Happening with COVID-19 Right Now
As of January 5th, the CDC is reporting close to 21 million COVID infections and over 352,000 deaths from COVID in the U.S. The average daily case rate per 10,000 people in the last week is 64.5K.
The top 5 states with the most COVID cases by 100K people are Arizonna, California, Rhode Island, Tennessee and Oklahamo. NPR’s state tracker lists California as a current hot spot with unchecked community spread of the virus –– the state is reporting close to 38,000 new infections every single day. The next highest state is Arizona, which is reporting an average of 8,160 new infections daily.
According to the CDC’s weekly update on COVID, the latest data is from the week of Christmas and it showed a slight decrease in both the number of overall new infections and hospitalizations from COVID, although the CDC also notes that those decreases are more than likely due to a delay in reporting due to the holidays and that an increase is predicted. Additionally, there were a few regions, such as New Jersey/New York/Puerto Rico, Mid-Atlantic, Southeast, South Central, and Central that did see an increase in positive COVID tests in the last reported week.
What’s Happening in Hospitals Right Now
According to the CDC, hospitalizations peaked in November and have either declined or plateaued. However, the CDC fully expects those numbers — especially with post-holiday season infections coming into effect — 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. California has been especially hard hit and hospitals in the Southern California region have reported the dreaded 0% ICU capacity.
The combination of healthcare staff burnout, staff getting sick or quarantined continues to lead to 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:
- Nevada: $10K for ICU/MICU/SICU
- California: $10K for ICU/MICU/SICU
- Idaho and Texas: over $8.7K for Cardiac ICU
- Maryland: over $8K 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 $7.6K 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
Since the rollout of the vaccine, statewide administration has been slower than expected in many areas. So far, about 4.8 million people in the U.S. have received at least the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, according to the New York Times. The federal government has stated that it’s delivered a total of 17 million doses to states, so there still remains a lot of vaccines to be given. (Although the vaccine does have to be given in two separate doses.)
There has also been some vaccine hesitancy reported among healthcare workers and some on the frontlines have refused the vaccine all together. For instance, Michigan has reported thousands of refusals among its healthcare workers, potentially contributing to having one of the lowest vaccination rates in the country. So far, the areas with the highest percentage of vaccinations given are the Northern Mariana Islands and South Dakota, with vaccination rates of 5.7% and 3.2%, respectively.
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 administering the vaccine only to staff nurses and not travelers, 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.