INTRODUCTION COVID-19 has placed substantial strain on the US nursing workforce. We measured the correlation between the number of state-specific COVID-19 hospitalizations per nurse and COVID-19 deaths, and assessed factors associated with nurses reporting an intention to leave their current job from stressors like those associated with COVID-19, including stress and burnout. METHODS This study was of a cross-sectional design. Data came from the 2018 National Sample Survey of Registered Nurses (i.e. baseline) and the CDC COVID Data Tracker. Descriptive and multivariable analyses were performed at p<0.05. RESULTS Blacks and Hispanics were under-represented in the nursing workforce. As the baseline state-specific number of nurses per hospitalized COVID-19 case increased, the number of COVID-19 deaths per 100000 population decreased (ρ = -0.6454, p<0.001). The intention to quit current employment because of the physical demands of the job was associated with several factors including marital and family status, race, financial incentives, burnout, and a stressful work environment. CONCLUSIONS Our findings underscore the need to strengthen and diversify the nursing workforce. Holistic approaches to address burnout are also needed to minimize attrition and improve the quality of life of nurses nationwide.