Oakland, California 2020-08-05 16:03:19 –
OAKLAND — Alameda County will pay $1,250 to people diagnosed with COVID-19 to stay home and self-isolate, if they meet certain qualifications.
The pilot program, approved unanimously by county supervisors Tuesday, is intended to help curb the spread of the disease in Alameda County, which has seen its number of cases rise.
“This is specifically designed to encourage people who are positive for COVID-19 to shelter-in-place and quarantine,” Lori Cox, director of the county’s Social Services Agency, told supervisors. “This is intended to keep people at home and other people safe.”
The money would be paid to people diagnosed with COVID-19 who are not receiving unemployment benefits or paid sick leave.
The $10 million pilot project will cover up to 7,500 people.
“Many county residents who test positive for COVID-19, especially hourly workers, will need assistance in order to isolate, as they cannot afford the loss in wages,” she said in the staff report presented to supervisors. “We expect many of these individuals in need of assistance will be part of the ‘essential’ workforce who are unable to work remotely and thus are at higher risk of contracting COVID-19.”
To qualify, people must get a referral from one of five community clinics that are in neighborhoods the county has designated as hard-hit by the virus. Two of the areas are in East Oakland, including the Fruitvale district and another near the San Leandro border, while others are in the Acorn area of West Oakland and Hayward.
When the program will start has not been determined. Alameda County officials have been working on developing it just about a week, Cox said, and ways to implement the program still must be worked out.
“I think we learned about the need for it by meeting residents who said they would get fired or have no money,” Supervisor Wilma Chan said, referring to people who might continue working despite getting a positive diagnosis.
Clinics selected to make referrals include La Clinica de la Raza at 3451 East 12th St. and Roots Community Health Center at 9925 International Blvd.
The others are the West Oakland Health Center at 700 Adeline St. in Oakland and the Tiburcio Vasquez Health Center, at its 22331 Mission Blvd. site in Hayward.
The amount of the stipend was determined based on two weeks minimum-wage pay in Alameda County cities with the highest minimum wage per hour, which are Berkeley at $15.59, and Emeryville at $16.30, Cox said.
When creating the pilot program, county officials reviewed San Francisco’s “The Right to Recover Fund,” which provides those who qualify with a wage replacement stipend while they struggle with the virus.
Based on San Francisco’s minimum wage, which is $15.59 per hour, that program provides $1,285 per resident who qualifies. The aim of the San Francisco program is to help up to 1,500 people who test positive for the virus, regardless of their immigration status.
Supervisor Keith Carson, whose district includes West Oakland, said he was concerned that not enough of his district’s residents will be aware of the Alameda County program, citing administrative changes at the West Oakland Health Center that could prevent outreach.
“There is a desperate need in that area,” Carson said.
Alameda County will seek reimbursement from coronavirus relief state and federal funds to pay for the program, Cox said in a report for supervisors. The total cost will not exceed $10 million, she said.