Opinion: Medical Workers Should Get Student Debt Forgiveness During a Pandemic

There’s a viral video being¬† shared on social media of bodies in New York City being loaded into a refrigerated truck with a forklift. They’re victims of COVID-19 and they’re being placed in body bags side by side by the dozen, presumably because the morgues are completely overrun. The man recording the video, a passerby in a car, is shaking and crying while he repeats in disbelief, “This is real! This is real!” It’s difficult to watch.

But, if you did watch it, you’d probably notice the same thing I did – the medical workers.

You know, the ones wearing flimsy gowns and masks. The ones who have been working for days at a time without breaks or adequate PPE (personal protection equipment). Or, perhaps better known as the ones who will have to go home weeks from now after being quarantined from their families and exposing themselves to a highly infectious virus to pay their student loan bills.

Medical workers should get student debt forgiveness for working during the corona virus pandemic.

I can already hear the arguments, “But Heidi, they signed up for this job. They make a great living! Why shouldn’t they have to pay their fair share?”

First of all, stop it.

Second of all, if our president can refer to himself as a wartime president, then our healthcare workers are on the frontlines. Call it defense spending if you have to. Lord knows no one has any trouble coughing up the cash for that.

The very last thing the people who are most vulnerable during this unprecedented time need to worry about is money they owe a bank.

I’m talking about the healthcare workers caring for our elderly family members isolated in assisted living facilities. The nurses who are, in some places, hand-pumping ventilators to keep people alive. The doctors caring for their co-workers as they take their last breaths without family members near them. The mental health workers, registrars, security guards, x-ray technicians, paramedics, janitors, therapists, and orderlies. All of them, every single one, should walk away from this debt free.

Because they’ve already paid it.

They are paying their debt at this very moment with their sweat and tears. They have paid their debt by putting themselves on the line so that millions of people won’t die.

Millions.

If this is war with an invisible enemy who threatens our health, economy and the future of the world; as the president has alluded, then our medical workers are our defense. The least we can do is not make them pay for the honor.

Read more of our COVID-19 coverage here. 

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