Santa Clara County to vote on COVID-19 isolation assistance program

Bay Area

SANTA CLARA COUNTY, Calif. (BCN) — The Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors at its Tuesday meeting may approve a program to provide extra aid to people having to isolate after testing positive for COVID-19.

The program would be a partnership with 15 cities in the county to make quarantining easier for residents and encourage residents to get tested.

The three main components are to provide more hotel and motel rooms, financial and rental support and at-home support like meal delivery programs.

If passed, the program could provide up to $5,000 per household to assist with rent and other finances, allocate care services for elderly or young family members and open up more than 1,000 rooms to house people who need to isolate.

“Santa Clara County wants to make sure that people are not afraid to get tested and part of the reason people are afraid is that they don’t have a proper place to quarantine or to isolate,” Board of Supervisors President Cindy Chavez said.

The new initiative is essentially an extension of a program that already existed to alleviate the stress of testing positive and curb the spread of COVID-19.

“It was really more of a pilot before, but now we have a better idea of resources needed,” Chavez said.

In June, the county partnered with local nonprofit Sacred Heart Community Services. Through that partnership, the county placed 384 households in a motel and more than 500 residents took advantage of various aspects of the program, according to county data.

However, since then, the county identified a much larger demand for assistance. Nearly 10 percent of the population would require some sort of assistance if or when they were quarantining and 5 percent of residents said they would need a place to quarantine either because they were unhoused, lived in a crowded household or lived with an at-risk person, according to Chavez.

“Here is our big message — If you need to isolate, if you need to quarantine, there are support services for you,” Chavez said. “We want everyone to know that if you take a test … the county and the cities are here to help.” The new program would allocate more than $13 million. More than half of that funding would be used for financial assistance, nearly 20 percent for at-home support and 20 percent for motel costs. Most of the funding is by the county, while cities participating have provided nearly $600,000.

Saratoga Mayor Howard Miller was the first to sign onto the partnership.

“Every city, no matter how wealthy, does have a population in the margins or even unhoused completely,” Miller said. “It is important, even in a city like Saratoga, to make sure those people have the opportunity to do the right thing. It is a moral issue. It is a public health issue.”

Cities participating provide additional funding, but also help the county identify vulnerable populations and available space for quarantining.

Residents are usually identified through contact tracing to utilize county services; however, anyone can sign up for assistance by going to https://www.sccgov.org/sites/opa/opa/covid19/Pages/home.aspx or calling (408) 299-5500.

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