Health Officials Propose Payments of $50/Day for Self Isolating
Some states have started reopening, and other are planning to do so sooner or later. Now sixteen public health officials have sent a letter to the Senate and House party leaders laying out a series of provisions to be considered in the next coronavirus legislation.
The letter recognizes that it is important to begin to “prepare to open up the American economy again and get Americans back to work.” But at the same time the letter says that “physical distancing and stay-at-home interventions are helping to flatten the curve of COVID19’s spread across the country. It is vital for that trend to continue, and for infections to drop to a controllable level.”
The letter lays out some necessary steps such as the expansion of the contact tracing workforce, primary care physicians being a referral source for testing and contact tracing, voluntary self-isolation facilities utilizing vacant hotels, and income support for voluntary self-isolation.
For that last part, one of the proposals is to offer income support to individuals for whom loss of income during 14 days of voluntary self-isolation represents a prohibitive barrier to being able to self isolate. It is estimated that 40% of individuals will need a measure of income support in order to be able to afford self-isolation. So they propose paying these individuals a stipend of $50 per day (analogous to federal jury duty). This would “increase the success of containment efforts and the ability to maintain an expanded measure of openness in the economy” the letter says. This income support would require approximately $30 billion in funding over the course of 18 months.