California County to Give $1,250 Stipend to Some COVID-19 Sufferers

August 7, 2020 Updated: August 7, 2020

California’s seventh most populous county will give people infected with the CCP virus a one-time lump sum payment of $1,250 under a pilot program meant to help vulnerable residents unable to work while self-quarantining after contracting the potentially deadly bug.

The Alameda County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday approved the program, which will initially be limited to some 7,500 residents referred to by designated clinics in five high-risk neighborhoods in Alameda County, according to a letter (pdf) from Lori Cox, director of the county’s Social Services Agency.

Vanessa Cedeño, policy director for the Board of Supervisors, told the Los Angeles Times that a key success factor in Alameda County’s efforts to curb the spread of COVID-19 is to make sure people who have contracted the virus safely isolate at home.

“If people are afraid to get tested or they cannot isolate safely when they’re COVID positive, then our efforts to contain the virus are not going to be as successful,” Cedeño said. She added that some services like emergency food delivery can help, “but at the end of the day, you can’t meet everybody’s basic needs. Sometimes people just need the money.”

The stipend is meant for those who can’t afford to lose two weeks’ worth of wages to quarantine.

“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,” Cox said in her letter 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.”

In order to qualify for the program, which has an overall budget cap of $10 million, stipend recipients must certify they have tested positive for COVID-19 and must be undergoing quarantine. They must also show that they’re not receiving unemployment benefits or paid sick leave.

“Whatever makes it a lot easier for people to deal with this pandemic would be great,” said Robert Mangrobang, a resident waiting to get tested for COVID-19 at Tiburcio Vasquez Health Center in Alameda County, KPIX reports. “Twelve hundred dollars or even more would be ideal for comforting a lot of families.”

Immigration status will not be taken into account in determining eligibility, the Los Angeles Times reports, adding that the board hopes to launch the pilot within the next few weeks.

Alameda County’s $1,250 pilot is similar to a program launched in San Francisco called “Right to Recover,” which gives eligible COVID-19 positive recipients a two-week stipend that corresponds to that city’s minimum wage.

California has 540,000 confirmed cases of the CCP virus, with over 10,000 deaths.

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