COVID Updates for Travel Nurses: May 26, 2021
Big news: the CDC issued recommendations stating fully vaccinated people no longer have to wear a mask in most situations — indoors or outdoors. It’s a sign we’re finally (finally!) seeing some progress against this virus and moving towards “normalcy” once again.
Here’s what the science is telling us about COVID-19, including how it’s affecting travel nurses right now.
What’s Happening with COVID-19 Right Now
The most recent data from the CDC shows a current COVID-19 case count of 32,771,733, only slightly higher than our last case count two weeks ago of 32,228,003.
To put these numbers into perspective, they boil down to this:
- New cases are the lowest they’ve been since September
- Deaths are at their lowest rate since last July!
The New York Times COVID case map shows a stabilization and decrease of infections across the entire country. There are only a handful of “hot spot” areas in isolated counties, such as in New Mexico, the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and Colorado. The NYT also noted places that previously had very high numbers have seen enormous progress. For example, New Jersey has seen a whopping 70% decrease in new cases over the past two weeks, while Michigan and New York have witnessed a 40% decrease.
While the new numbers are encouraging, especially on the brink of summer, the combination of variants and vaccine hesitation is leading many experts to predict we’ll never truly reach herd immunity for COVID-19.
“It’s theoretically possible but we as a society have rejected that,” Dr. Gregory Poland, director of the Mayo Clinic’s Vaccine Research Group told USA Today when discussing herd immunity for the virus. “There is no eradication at this point, it’s off the table. The only thing we can talk about is control.”
What exactly does that mean? It means that moving forward, COVID-19 will be more like a flu: a virus we will never fully eradicate, but that can hopefully be managed and controlled through a combination of infection control measures, such as vaccinations, masking during outbreaks, social distancing, and potentially new guidelines for going into work sick.
What’s Happening in Hospitals Right Now
According to the CDC, new COVID-19 infections have dropped by 23.6% compared to last week, which is good news indeed. The current case count is almost 85.8% lower than it was during the January 2021 peaks. The CDC also notes that the SARS-CoV-2 variant B.1.1.7. (the “UK variant”) is the culprit behind the majority of all U.S cases.
Yesterday, there were reports the India variant has been found in the U.S., although so far, experts are saying it’s not cause for alarm. The variant has been dubbed a “double mutant,” which describes the fact that this virus strains has gone through two specific mutations that make it harder for the immune system to detect. Basically, the mutation has found a way to slip through the immune system in two different ways, which is why it’s been so deadly in India.
Hospitalizations have also decreased 12.4% from the previous week. Overall, hospitalizations have decreased consistently since April 19.
Currently, the demand for COVID travel is less intense than last year but there are some states with new demand. Here are some of the current salaries available on job boards:
- Oregon: General MICU/SICU, Stepdown, $6K
- Oregon: Med/Surg, $5.7K
- Connecticut: General MICU/SICU, $5K
- New Mexico: Nurse Manager, $5K
- North Dakota: Med/Surg and ER, $4.8-4.9K
- Idaho,Cardiac ICU, $4.8K
- New Jersey: OR, $4.7K
- Massachusetts, Postpartum, NICU, $4.7K
- Ohio, ER: $4.6K
- Maryland, OR: $4.6K
- Kentucky, COVID-19 ICU: $4.6K
- California, ICU, ER: $4.4K
- Michigan, ER: $4.4K
- Missouri, OR: $4.3K
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 biggest news is that the FDA issued Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for children between the ages of 12 and 15.
The CDC has called the Pfizer vaccine “safe and effective” for that age group, citing safety data and assuring parents that the side effects are about the same for adults, with symptoms like slight fever, chills, or headache after administration. Although 12-15-year-olds are now eligible and have started receiving the vaccine, no official data is in yet about how many have received it.
However, in general, according to the CDC’s count, 157,827,208 people have received at least one dose of a vaccine. Thirty-seven percent of the country has been fully vaccinated, while 47.5% of the population has received at least one dose.
In other news:
- Scientists have noted that influenza has practically disappeared during the pandemic. This is likely because the flu spreads like COVID-19 but it’s way less effective in finding a host, so protective measures have blocked the flu from spreading, essentially stopping it in its tracks. While this sounds like a good thing, some experts have expressed concern that toddlers especially may not have lasting immunity to the flu without early exposure.
- The U.S. is planning to share vaccines globally as other countries, including Thailand and India, continue to struggle against the virus .
Vaccine rates are lower in rural areas, which also have an increased risk of serious complications, including death, from the virus. The CDC released a report on how the urban-rural disparity may pose a challenge to ending the pandemic.
- Plans are still underway for an EUA to be released for vaccines for children from ages 2-11, although there is no formal word on that yet.