As of summer 2021, pandemic experts are still unsure about the course that COVID-19 will take into Fall. They cite last year’s experience of dropping infection rates during the summer – followed by a massive surge in cases in the ensuing months – as a cautionary tale.

Many had hoped that vaccination rates would be higher that they are in July 2021, and although scientists speculated that new variants would likely emerge, it is now certain that they have. In several instances, such as the Delta variant, these variants are more infectious than prior strains.

New variants have led to increased infection rates and hospitalization rates. The vast majority of COVID hospitalizations and deaths have occurred in the unvaccinated population. Patient populations are rising in many areas, particularly in those with low vaccination rates.

Hospitals in locations such as Florida, are starting to experience overload and have gone on high alert. Some have begun to limit visitations.

What does this mean for travel nursing jobs?

Some hospitals and hospital systems have increased staffing requests, and are hiring more travelers. They are also beginning to offer higher travel pay rates. While not yet at the rates experienced during the height of the pandemic in 2020, travel pay rates are on the upswing. Look for crisis response positions in the most sought-after specialties to increase first (ICU, Med/Surg, Telemetry) in locations like Florida, California, and Texas. These states contain high population-density locales — with pockets of low vaccination rates.

The political and medical debate rages on

Local and federal officials are once again weighing the costs and benefits of re-instating NPIs (non-pharmaceutical interventions), such as mask-wearing, social distancing, and restricting access to public and commercial facilities. Efforts to encourage vaccination are increasing as well.

As a health practitioner, you are in a unique position to educate in your community. You are aware of who your most vulnerable community members may be, and you can give them your respected advice about vaccination, as well as non-medical best practices like mask-wearing and hand-washing.

Nurses, you are the best! Stay safe!