Alameda County will pay people with coronavirus to stay home in an attempt to slow the spread of COVID-19 in communities hit hardest.
“It’s not like the cold. People go to work with the cold. This is something that will affect the whole community,” said Alameda County Supervisor Wilma Chan.
The initiative is aimed at individuals who cannot afford to self isolate and miss work on their own.
“Modeled after a similar program in San Francisco, it’s based on two weeks pay at about $16 per hour, amounting to about $1,250. The stipend is aimed at essential employees, day laborers, undocumented workers, and those at businesses too small to provide benefits,” reported KTVU.
Because rent is high many people live in multi-generational homes, but when someone gets COVID-19 it is difficult to isolate and the living spaces can quickly become virus clusters.
“You may have people living in a four-bedroom house, but each bedroom may have a family living in it, and that’s due to the high cost of living in the Bay Area,” said Simpson-Akpawu.
Caught between health and financial problems, “People have to do what they have to do to survive,” said Erika Simpson-Akpawu, Chief Operations Officer at West Oakland Health, which sees many patients ineligible for unemployment, stimulus money or sick leave.
The clinic provides 400 tests daily; while some people are symptomatic others are exposed and unsure, but all of the people should remain home.
However, Simpson-Akpawu said, “There are many employers who are not allowing employees to come back to work without that negative test.”
With test results coming in slow Simpson-Akpawu explained people are, “Not getting any income, so how do they provide food for their families, pay their rent, pay their other bills?”
Those who apply must prove the following:
- They have tested positive for COVID-19
- They must show they cannot qualify for unemployment benefits or paid sick leave.
- They must have a referral from specific clinics in high-risk areas.
“I think it helps us all because it’s going to allow those families to stay at home to quarantine and get better and that of course helps all of us,” Garcia said.
Approved unanimously by Alameda County supervisors, the county has set aside $10 million for this program, which is expected to help 7,500 people. A start date and criteria for the stipends are still being developed.
Currently, Alameda County has just over 12,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus and 193 deaths.