A woman wearing a face covering shops for melons at the Santa Monica Farmers’ Market in California: (2020 Getty Images)
A California county has approved a pilot programme that will provide residents who test positive for coronavirus a stipend of $1,250 (£957) to stay at home.
Alameda County’s Board of Supervisors has set aside $10m (£7.6m) for the programme, which will enable it to provide payments to 7,500 people in the area.
The board said they made the decision after they found that many residents were concerned about how they would pay for food, rent and other essential bills if they tested positive and could not work.
Vanessa Cedeño, the board’s policy director, told Fox News that “many of them just could not afford to lose two weeks worth of wages to quarantine and isolate”.
She added: “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.”
The programme, which was unanimously approved by the board, was announced after Alameda County recorded a new daily coronavirus case total on Wednesday, as California continues to struggle with the coronavirus pandemic.
California has recorded more than 533,000 Covid-19 cases, as at least 9,866 people have died after contracting the virus since the pandemic began, while Alameda County has seen at least 12,161 confirmed cases and 193 deaths.
To be eligible for the programme, Alameda County residents need to be referred by a designated clinic in an area classed as high-risk, must also have tested positive for coronavirus and cannot be receiving paid sick leave or unemployment benefits.
The Los Angeles Times reported that immigration status will not be taken into account when deciding whether to give a resident the stipend.
Healthcare providers in the area have praised the programme, and Andrea Schwab-Galindo, CEO of Tiburcio Vasquez Health Centre in Hayward, told CBS San Francisco that it will help residents in working class areas stay at home if they are infected.
“Literally every single person that we have spoken to through our contract tracing programme, they have all asked for either food, help with rent, or access to be enrolled in healthcare,” she said.
“Most people that test positive are usually the members that are out there working and able to do that,” Ms Schwab-Galindo added.
“You know, they are construction workers, they are grocery workers, so they are more exposed compared to some of the other family members they are trying to support, including their children.”
According to a tracking project hosted by Johns Hopkins University, in the US as a whole, some 4.8 million people have tested positive for coronavirus. The death toll has reached at least 160,111.
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