SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — Sacramento County Health Officials are considering a new plan to pay coronavirus patients to stay at home. The proposal would give patients in need $1,000 if they stay home for a 14-day period after testing positive.
Stipends would be granted to those who do not qualify for unemployment or other assistance programs.
Rachel Rios, the Executive Director at La Familia Counseling Center, sees the hard choices essential workers have to make every day at their free COVID-19 testing site.
“It’s a decision of whether you are going to go to work so you can pay the rent and feed your family or you are going to stay home. Being able to not be in that situation to make that decision would be critical,” Rios explained.
La Familia Counseling Center serves primarily communities of color. Rios is hopeful that health official’s proposals could make that choice easier for families in need.
“We know that essential workers are the ones who tend to get COVID-19 because they aren’t able to stay home and this really provides for that group of people. Especially for those who may not qualify for state or federal benefits,” she explained. “That could make the difference whether or not they are evicted from their home or whether they will be able to feed their families. Really, it’s a short term investment to keep people houses and to be able to sustain their families.”
The stipend would provide around $12.50 an hour for those in-need. Sacramento County Health Services Director, Dr. Peter Beilenson, said the figure was established from the typical hourly wage of a migrant worker. The payments could cover the cost of thousands who qualify for the stipend paid for through CARES Act funding.
“We have had a large amount of cases in Sacramento County be in migrant workers, day workers and agricultural workers, and a lot of them work on hourly wages and can’t afford to take time off,” Beilenson said.
San Francisco County has already implemented a similar stipend through its “Right to Recover” program that paying a minimum of $1,285.60 for two weeks and a maximum of $2,2571.20 for four weeks.
Alameda County recently passed its own proposal, distributing $1,250 for those who qualify after receiving a referral from a clinic.
CBS 13 asked public health officials how they would make sure people are staying home for 14 days. Dr. Beilenson said they would likely use contact tracers to make sure people isolate and those who test positive would only receive a stipend after their quarantine.
“We want to make sure they get a stipend to stay at home so they don’t feel like they have to go to work,” he explained.
County Public Health plans to have a final proposal drafted by the end of September and from there will determine if they will implement the plan.