San Francisco to Replace Wages for Low-Income, Undocumented Workers Who Have COVID-19
As San Francisco’s Latino population suffers a growing toll from COVID-19, the city plans to begin offering more than $1,200 in aid to residents unable to afford to self-isolate after testing positive, according to the mayor’s office.
The “Right to Recover” program:
It would channel private donations to supply two weeks of minimum wage to San Franciscans who, due to immigration status or other reasons, lack access to benefits such as unemployment insurance or paid sick leave while they are asked to recover at home.
“When someone tests positive for COVID-19, we want them to be able to focus on getting the care they need and taking the necessary steps to slow the spread of the virus, not worrying about how they’ll pay their bills,” said Mayor London Breed in a statement.
City officials expect the program to be up and running in a few weeks. They aim to help more than 1,300 working San Franciscans with a $2 million initial contribution from the Give2SF COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund.
San Francisco was among the first U.S. cities to implement aggressive measures to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus, but the rate of infections in the city disproportionately affects low-income and minority communities, say public health experts.
High covid19 cases:
Latinos represent only 15% of the city’s population, but infections among Latinos have grown to nearly half of all confirmed COVID-19 cases, according to the San Francisco Department of Public Health. By comparison, non-Hispanic whites, about 40% of San Francisco’s population, represent only 15% of coronavirus cases.
A recent UCSF COVID-19 study pointed to a key reason low-income Latinos are at higher risk of contracting the virus: Many can’t work from home.
The study, which tested nearly 3,000 residents and workers in a heavily Latino area of the city’s Mission District, found most of those with an active infection earned less than $50,000 a year and had to venture outside their homes to earn income, sometimes providing essential services.
In addition, undocumented workers are not eligible for unemployment insurance or federal coronavirus stimulus checks, even if they contribute an estimated $3 billion per year in local and state taxes in California.
A significant number of those who tested positive in the UCSF study also reported they are not eligible for state and federal benefits, said Jon Jacobo, with the Latino Task Force for COVID-19, which worked with UCSF researchers to conduct the study.
Supervisor Hillary Ronen, whose district includes the Mission, initially proposed the Right to Recover wage replacement in early May as a response to the UCSF study findings.
“Low-wage workers deserve the opportunity to shelter in place and to quarantine if they are ill without the fear of losing income,” Ronen said in a statement. “It is in our collective best interest to make sure that financial vulnerabilities do not stand in the way of any worker who is sick from being able to rest and recover.”