A positive COVID-19 test could land residents of one California county a $1,250 payment.
The Alameda County Board of Supervisors voted to pay residents a $1,250 stipend after they test positive for the coronavirus because, as they view it, more people will follow the guidance to isolate for two weeks without having to worry about missing a paycheck.
“What we heard — through our conversations with [residents] or the conversations they were having with contact investigators and tracers — was that many of them just could not afford to lose two weeks’ worth of wages to quarantine and isolate,” Vanessa Cedeno, a policy adviser for the county, told the Los Angeles Times.
“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,” Cedeno said.
The county settled on a one-time payment of $1,250 because it is the equivalent of two 40-hour weeks at a pay rate of the minimum wage of $16.30 in the city of Emeryville. Emeryville has the highest minimum wage in the county; nearby Berkeley’s minimum wage is set at $15.59.
Cedeno noted that the county has been overseeing food distribution and other safety nets for infected workers, but she said that some people still need the additional cash to make ends meet if they are forced out of work due to the quarantine.
“At the end of the day, you can’t meet everybody’s basic needs. Sometimes, people just need the money,” Cedeno said.
The county set aside $10 million to cover 7,500 participants in the pilot run of the program. Officials plan to start the program in a few weeks after they finalize the logistical details of the payment delivery.