HAYWARD (KPIX) – Alameda County has launched a new program to help patients stay home once they’ve been diagnosed with coronavirus. County officials hope to slow the spread of COVID-19 by helping families that face a sudden financial crisis when a test comes back positive.

“So literally every single person that we have spoken to through our contract tracing program, they have all asked for either food, help with rent, or access to be enrolled in healthcare,” says Andrea Schwab-Galindo, CEO of Hayward’s Tiburcio Vasquez Health Center.

Schwab-Galindo has watched the pandemic land squarely on her community of working class neighborhoods, primarily people of color.

“Most people that test positive are usually the members that are out there working and able to do that,” Schwab-Galindo says. “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.”

That is exactly who Alameda County plans to help with a $1,250 stipend program for people who have to self-isolate after a positive test. The stipend is for those who do not receive unemployment benefits or sick leave, and requires a referral from one of five approved clinics.

“Yeah, whatever makes it a lot easier for people to deal with this pandemic would be great,” said Robert Mangrobang, showing up for a test on Wednesday. “Twelve hundred dollars or even more would be ideal for comforting a lot of families.”

Details are still being finalized, but the county hopes the stipend will encourage self-isolating, and more testing in neighborhoods where the risk has proven considerable.

“Our testing positivity rate at our clinic is 28 percent, which shows the great need, particularly in the South Hayward, Ashland, Cherryland area,” explains Schwab-Galindo.

The county has set aside $10 million for the project, which should cover 7,500 stipends. Alameda County hopes that money will eventually be reimbursed by the state or federal governments.

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