Some people who test positive for COVID-19 in the East bay will soon get paid to stay at home.
Alameda County is rolling out a program that will give money to people who cannot afford to self-isolate. The goal is to help curb the spread of COVID-19, especially in communities hardest hit by the virus.
"It's not like the cold," Alameda County Supervisor Wilma Chan said. "People go to work with the cold. This is something that will affect the whole community."
It's the coronavirus conundrum that is impacting low-income people who test positive for COVID-19 -- go to work and expose others? Or stay at home and lose your paycheck and maybe your job?
"These are individuals that work in construction, work in restaurants, work in grocery stores," said Jane Garcia, CEO of La Clinica De La Raza.
Garcia through La Clinica De La Raza treats uninsured and undocumented patients in Oakland.
"Their employer is asking them to provide documentation that they've tested negative or that they're better, and they really push back on us to give them that statement, that authorization to go back to work," Garcia said.
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Garcia said many of the people infected with COVID-19 live in multi-generational homes, which quickly become coronavirus clusters.
"One of the reasons people can't isolate even when they're sick is they don't have any money," Chan said.
Alameda County is now going to pay people regardless of their immigration status to quarantine -- $1,250 to be exact.
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.
Chan said the county has set aside $10 million for this program, which is expected to help 7,500 people.