More nurses are diagnosed with the COVID-19 coronavirus than healthcare providers in any other discipline. Despite that sober statistic, very few congressional committees’ COVID-19 legislation proposals support essential workers like nurses. U.S. Representatives Jackie Speier (D-CA) and Joe Neguse (D-CO) introduced a bill to address those concerns.  

Their legislation, the Essential Worker Pandemic Compensation Act, would provide tax-free funds and additional support for postsecondary education of surviving spouses and children of essential workers who died from COVID-19 and a cash benefit to the workers who are hospitalized because of the virus and recover.  

Speier and Neguse based the bill on the Public Safety Officers’ Benefits and Educational Assistance Program, which provides a tax-free payment and educational benefits to the families of first responders who died because of injuries sustained in the line of duty.  

“Reports estimate that more than 3,200 healthcare workers, including hundreds of medical first responders, have died of COVID-19,” Speier said. “There is no question that we have an obligation to the individuals and families who have paid the ultimate price to ensure their fellow Americans survive this deadly pandemic”  

“We must ensure we are stepping up for these workers and their families, just as they have done for us, without question, time and again,” Neguse said. “While financial compensation cannot bring back what is lost, it is the least we can do as a society to acknowledge this debt.”