COVID Updates for Travel Nurses: March 31, 2021
Well, it’s official: COVID-19 is officially on the rise again in nearly every single state in the U.S. The increase started slowly, with cases inching upwards in states like Michigan. Experts cautiously watched the numbers, wondering if they may plateau or turn the other way as vaccinations continue to grow.
However, the verdict is in and unfortunately, it now looks like the U.S. has entered into what is being called a fourth wave. Read on for more on who’s being affected, if experts except the tide will turn and what travel nurses need to know.
What’s Happening with COVID-19 Right Now
There are two main things to understand with COVID-19 right now: 1) every single state in the country has eased restrictions in major ways, from allowing more indoor dining to opening up more indoor venues to some states completely doing away with mask mandates all together and 2) the number of new COVID-19 infections has definitely increased, about 20% from last week alone, notes NPR.
Experts suspect that common sense would see those two facts as connected, but the question has remained of how connected they would be–and what the end result will be. Are there enough people vaccinated that even opening up more can contain the cases? Will the spread of new infections be primarily in younger, healthier individuals now that so many at-risk individuals have been vaccinated? Will warmer weather in general and public health behavior make any difference at all?
It’s too early to officially call it, but experts are definitely fearful of a fourth wave. In fact, in a press conference on March 29, CDC director, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, urged Americans to practice infection-curbing measures like masking and social distancing. “I know you all so badly want to be done,” she said in her press conference, where she admitted to going off-script. “We are just almost there, but not quite yet.” Cases in some states, like Michigan, where a notable rise in infections received a lot of press attention, are rising the fastest among people in their 50s. Cases, in general, are being seen in people from the age of 10 to 60, but the over 65 sect number seem stable, largely attributed to the level of vaccination in that age group.
The most recent data available from the CDC shows a current COVID-19 case count of 30,147,895 and 547,296 deaths.
What’s Happening in Hospitals Right Now
According to the CDC, there has been an almost 7% increase in COVID cases across the U.S. in the past week of data. However, hospital admissions have only increased by 0.1% in the same time frame. At the moment, deaths have also not increased and have stayed in their downward trend.
So far, the rise in COVID cases appears to be primarily in the under-age 60 sect and according to some doctors, associated with much more mild versions of the disease than they have seen in the past. There’s also more testing available than this time last year, which can add to the increase in numbers we are seeing–more people are aware of the test, willing to get tested and are able to access a test when they need it as compared to last year, when testing was scarce and people were more apt to stay home.
In Michigan, one of the first states to record a doubled COVID case count in only two weeks, hospitalizations are rising the fastest in people in their 50s. Cases, in general, are being seen in people from the age of 10 to 60, but the over 65 sect number seem stable, largely attributed to the level of vaccination in that age group.
However, experts are still cautioning that the severe cases of the virus can still strike younger people–and they can serve to spread it to people at risk, so there’s no reason to let guards down just yet. Additionally, numbers of infections and severe health complications from the record-setting large number of spring break travelers will still take several weeks to materialize.
Currently, the demands for COVID travel nursing assignments are nowhere near where they were this time last year, but there are still some assignments hovering around the high $5k/week pay rate.
Here are some of the available travel nursing jobs right now:
- Massachusetts: ICU/MICU/SICU, $5.7K
- North Dakota: Med/Surg and ER, $4.8K
- New York: Med/Surg: $4.8K
- Maryland: Cardiac Cath Lab: $4.3K
- Arizona: Telemetry: $4.2K
- New Jersey: OR: $4.1K
- Oregon: L&D: $4K
What’s Happening with the Vaccine
The unfortunate news is that the U.K variant of the virus, the B.1.1.7, does appear to be rising and is said to be about 50% more transmissible and more dangerous the original strain. The good news, however, is that the current vaccines are thought to provide protection, even against the variant.
“The vaccines that we’ve been using here, at least according to lab results, do appear to be giving good protection against all the variants of concern that we’ve got at the moment,” Bill Hanage, an epidemiologist at Harvard University, told NPR. “Now, there may be some small reduction in efficacy but not enough to be really worried about.”
According to the CDC’s count, 148 million doses of the vaccine have currently been administered. 28.9% of the country has been fully vaccinated, while 16.1% of the population has received at least one dose. It’s thought that even one dose of the vaccine provides a high amount of protection — 80% protection with the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.
In other vaccine and COVID news:
- A CDC “real-world” study confirmed the effectiveness of mRNA vaccines against COVID-19.
- Washington saw 102 cases of “breakthrough infections,” with 102 people getting infected with COVID-19, despite being fully vaccinated. Experts note that some breakthrough infections are expected and normal with any vaccination program.
- Michigan’s large increase is said to be linked to the large number of variants circulating in the state, and could be a warning to the rest of the country.
- 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 masks with other unvaccinated people, providing they are not at risk for severe illness with COVID-19.
- Pzifer has reported that its vaccine is highly effective in children aged 12-15, although trials are still ongoing.