By: Chris Musillo

Nursing supply was already at a tipping point before the COVID-19 crisis. The US was struggling to satisfy rising demand in the face of a decade-long and acute nursing shortage, which was projected to balloon to 200,000 unfilled positions this year. The COVID-19 crisis has exasperated an already overwhelming shortage.

The HWRA is legislation that will increase the supply of nurses and doctors into the US. These two occupations are among the shortest supplied occupations by US workers.

The US nursing crisis will only get worse:
  • Infection peaks have not yet happened in most of the country. Seven of the eight counties with the most infections are all in New York. While New York appears to have finally hit its peak, that state is an outlier.
  • Other countries have not yet reached an infection peak. As international travel comes back on line, it is expected that US infection rates will re-emerge.
  • Maldistribution of healthcare workers means that grave nursing shortages exist in some localities and specialties. For instance, employers of dialysis nurses have seen their national shortage triple in the just eight weeks. New York area hospitals are offering pay rates at 2 to 4 times a nurse’s usual salary, in an effort to attract nurses from other areas of the country.
  • We know based on the experience of other countries that the coronavirus is a caregivers' illness. In Italy's Lombardy region, one of the country's hardest-hit, as much as 10 percent of all nurses and doctors have been infected and placed in quarantine. Italy is now desperately calling on retried healthcare workers to join their fight.