Santa Clara County supervisors pump $13 million to help people quarantine
Santa Clara County will funnel funds to cities for motel costs, at-home support and financial assistance for people needing to isolate if they get the novel coronavirus or have been exposed.

Santa Clara County residents who are exposed or have contracted COVID-19 are getting more financial help to cover the cost of isolating and quarantining.

Supervisors on Sept. 22 approved a $13 million infusion to the county’s cities to pay for motel costs, at-home support and financial assistance related to mandatory quarantine if residents get the novel coronavirus or have been exposed. The county has operated a pilot program with Sacred Heart Community Service since June.

San Jose is set to get a little more than $10 million while other cities and unincorporated areas will get $40,000 to $100,000 each.

Because the county has ramped up its coronavirus testing with new locations and public outreach, Supervisor Cindy Chavez said these resources also are necessary.

“The big excitement here is it’s one more way to make it easier to not just get the test but if they get bad news (that they’re positive) they’re not doing it on their own,” Chavez said.

While many individuals and their families can isolate or quarantine in their homes without assistance, others have situations that make isolation or quarantining difficult. The funding will help with scaling the program to a size where it can help more residents.

The county needs more money to address the program’s application backlog: About five percent of residents that contact tracers talk to need some kind of support.

Since June, the county has placed 384 people exposed or infected with COVID-19 in motels. More than 100 families have received help with buying groceries or cleaning supplies. Funding for these services will be available until Dec. 31.

Chavez has advocated for the funds, which she said will make a big difference in the lives of many people in the county.

“I’ve been pushing the county to put more resources into (the isolation and quarantine program) and expand it,” Chavez said. “In part, because we really want to make sure that people who are in tough living situations or who are feeling at risk for their jobs are not afraid to get tested.”

Supervisor Susan Ellenberg noted the county’s strengths included hiring enough contact tracers, especially those who speak two and three languages. Other strengths include partnering with local community organizations that already have established trust with residents.

“Our program is very good,” Ellenberg said. “Where I think we need to grow is in capacity and efficacy. We need some good data whether these programs are working and if we’re actually doing what we want to do.”

Residents directed to quarantine who haven’t heard from a contact tracer can call the county at 408-808-7770 to access quarantine services.

Contact Madelyn Reese at [email protected] and follow her @MadelynGReese

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