COVID Updates for Travel Nurses: September 15, 2021
Nine states — Alaska, Georgia, Idaho, Kentucky, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Washington and West Virginia — all have more patients hospitalized than at any point in the past during the pandemic. Meanwhile, deaths have increased almost 50% from last month.
While the CDC says it does expect hospital admissions to start decreasing over the next month, the numbers are clear: this pandemic isn’t over yet.
Here’s what travel nurses should know about COVID this week, including what high-paying COVID-19 travel nurse jobs are available right now.
What’s happening with COVID-19 right now
According to the CDC’s weekly data, overall cases in the U.S. are trending downward again for the first time in months. Cases have actually decreased 12.7% from the last 7-day average. However, even with that decrease the current case count is nearly 100% higher than it was this time last year.
Here are some quick data points about the numbers:
- Percent positivity of tests is 9.1% (an decrease from the last update of 9.4%)
- Delta is still accounting for the majority of all cases
- To date, the U.S. has seen a total of 41,426,425 cases of COVID
- The death toll from COVID now stands at 662,620 in the U.S.
Along with overall case counts, deaths have also decreased. Deaths are down 11.3% from the last 7-day average.
If you were at all concerned about the mu variant, here’s some good news: the mu variant only accounted for about 5% of cases when it reached its peak in late June. It’s been declining ever since.
What’s happening in hospitals right now
Hospital admissions overall have decreased slightly since last week. There’s been a 4.1% decrease in hospitalizations from the last recorded 7 days and according to the New York Times COVID map and tracker, nationwide, cases do seem to be leveling off and declining.
The states with the fastest rising case numbers are:
- South Dakota
Employer vaccine mandates have created some opportunities for travel nurses who are fully vaccinated. Some health facilities have seen employees resign over mandates, such as Lewis County General Hospital in New York. It announced a pause on being able to deliver babies after so many staff quit following the implementation of a vaccine mandate.
It’s not entirely clear how many nurses have quit over mandates and some may still have time to decide as mandates and timelines are still being determined, but it could impact travel nursing opportunities for fully vaccinated RNs willing to take on travel assignments.
If you’re looking to travel to a hard-hit area, here’s a sampling of some of the current travel nursing positions available:
- Idaho, Cardiovascular ICU: $8K/week
- California, MICU/SICU, ER, L&D, Med/Surg, Telemetry: $7K/week
- Missouri, ER: $6.8K/week
- California, Postpartum: $6.7K/week
- Indiana, L&D/MICU/SICU/ER: $6.7K/week
- Missouri, Med/Surg/Telemetry, MICU/SICU: $6.6K/week
- New Mexico, MICU/SICU: $6.7K/week
- Michigan, MICU/SICU: $6.6K/ week
- North Dakota, Med/Surg/Telemetry: $6.6K/week
- Missouri, L&D, Stepdown: $6.6K/week
- Pennsylvania, Cardiac Cath Lab: $6.4K/week
- Wyoming, L&D: $6.3K/week
- Massachusetts, L&D: $6.3K/week
- Kansas, MICU/SICU: $6.2K/week
- North Carolina, Med/Surg: $6.1K/week
- Michigan, ER: $6.1K/week
What’s happening with the vaccine
Vaccine administration continues to rise slowly and steadily. According to the CDC, 179.7 million people in the U.S. have been fully vaccinated. There are now:
- 64.4% of the U.S. population with at least one dose
- 54% fully vaccinated Americans
In booster news, the jury still seems to be out on whether or not all fully vaccinated individuals should receive a booster shot. Although the FDA released a study today from Pfizer showing that vaccine immunity wanes around 6-8 months post full-vaccination, the FDA has declined to take Pfizer’s recommendation, citing a lack of data. Moderna also released a study today recommending a half-dose booster dose, citing it elicits a stronger immune response.
Additionally, a group of scientists, including two FDA leaders who will be retiring this month, published a paper in The Lancet saying that they don’t believe pandemic mitigation efforts should be focused on boosters for healthy, fully vaccinated adults. Basically, the paper boiled down to the scientists explaining that even new variants haven’t evolved enough yet not to be seriously killed off by the vaccines. And until we get to that point, the general population probably just doesn’t need boosters.
Instead, they wrote that the best strategy against the pandemic is to get vaccines in people who have not yet been vaccinated. That will help curtail the spread and development of even more potentially dangerous variants.
As of right now, the CDC continues to recommend booster shots for immunocompromised people. That includes:
- Being a cancer patient
- Anyone with an organ transplant
- Anyone who’s had a stem cell transplant
- Anyone with an immunodeficiency or diminished immune response due to medication
- Anyone with HIV (untreated or advanced)