COVID Updates for Travel Nurses: November 11, 2020
Here are the latest COVID updates for travel nurses as this past weekend saw one record-breaking day after another for the number of virus infections. As USA Today reports, the U.S. saw 126,742 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday, which marked the third day in a row that the total exceeded 126,000.
Remember the days when we held our breath as the entire country reached 100,000? Good times. Now, the U.S. has a total of 9.8 million cases and collectively, the world’s infection rate is about to break the 50 million mark.
What’s Happening with COVID-19 Right Now
Many states in the Midwest have been hit the hardest by this “second wave” of corona (although experts disagree if it truly is a second wave, or just the same first wave, continuing running its course). According to USA Today, North Dakota in particular has been very hard hit, reporting a death rate of 41 deaths for every 100,000 people, which is the highest of any state in the entire country.
Overall, infections have exploded and death rates — while lower than they were in the spring — appear to be on a steady climb upwards again. As of right now, the states that are being monitored for fast growth (meaning they reported more cases in the past 7 days than in the preceding week, indicating higher community spread) are:
NPR’s daily state case tracker, which tracks the highest risk areas right now in the country — meaning 25 or more daily new positive tests, indicating uncontrolled community spread — lists these states as the highest-risk states right now:
- North Dakota
- South Dakota
What’s Happening in Hospitals Right Now
Now that flu season is officially underway, the CDC has begun reporting all respiratory-related hospitalizations and mortality data, together. Their chart lists three different-colored lines for pneumonia, influenza, and COVID-19, or PIC for short.
In their summary, they explain that while infections across the board are increasing, doctor visits and urgent-care visits have remained relatively stable. However, hospitalizations for adults aged 18 years and older are up. And death rates attributed to PIC causes in the last week were actually down slightly (8.1% in week 44 compared to 11.8% in week 43), but still above epidemic threshold numbers.
So, what does all of that mean? It means that at the hospital level, healthcare workers can expect to see what could very well be ever-increased hospitalizations, but hopefully less deaths, if the numbers stay the same as they have been. However, the CDC and pretty much every single health expert ever continues to warn us to be cautious, as winter and more severe weather could negatively impact those numbers too.
And like in real estate, location matters too. Some rural hospitals in high-risk states, such as Michigan, are bracing for potential impact from an increase in severe COVID-19 cases, because even small numbers could be devastating. For instance, one hospital in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan reported waiting six months just for disposable gloves that they needed–and with only six ICU beds, they are fearing for what could happen if their community gets hit with an influx of patients needing more intensive care.
Travel Nurse News + Opportunities
As the pandemic continues on in the U.S., the effects on the nursing workforce will become increasingly apparent.
On one hand, there has been an unfortunate increase in the nursing shortage that has already plagued the healthcare world. Many hospitals across the country are seeing a high number of staff nurses leaving their positions due to burnout, exhaustion, their own health needs or family responsibilities that may require them to be home more with their children. Some nurses were even laid off by hospitals during pandemic-related financial strains, and have elected not to return to work at all, or have found different employment.
And while a mass exodus of staff nurses is definitely not good for anyone, on the other hand, it does mean that the opportunity for travel nursing will only increase. Especially for travel nurses who have speciality experience, COVID-19 care experience, or are simply well-versed in the unique challenges that travel nursing can entail (hello, moving cross-country with a day’s notice!), the demand may be especially high. Things could also change significantly next year, as President-Elect Joe Biden has sworn to create a dedicated COVID-19 task force, which could affect nursing opportunities.
COVID Updates: High-Demand Travel Nursing Specialities
As of right now, the most in-demand specialities seem to be for travel nurses with ICU, MICU, ER, telemetry, and general Med/Surg experience.
Illinois seems to have a lot of needs at the moment, with many different openings, so if the Windy City is on your list, you may want to look into a position there.
Currently, based on researching travel nursing job boards, the states and positions with the highest pay rates are:
- Wisconsin and Idaho: $6.2K/week in ICU and Cardiac ICU (limited positions)
- Michigan: $5.5K/week in telemetry (limited positions)
- New Jersey: $5.2K/week in ICU, $4.8K in Med/Surg, MICU/SICU
- New Mexico: $4.6K/week in ICU, MICU/SICU, and Med/Surg
- Louisiana: $4.6K/week in Step Down
- Illinois: $4.5K/week for MICU/ICU, Med/Surg, Telemetry, and ER
- Massachusetts: $4.4K/week in telemetry
- Arizona: $3K+ for ER, ICU, and Med/Surg
Remember, the nature of the game with travel nursing — and even more so in a pandemic — is that things can change very quickly, so be sure to keep your eyes peeling for new updates and job postings if you’re looking to take on a travel nursing assignment in the near future.