SF supervisor launches program to provide wages for COVID-19 positive workers

San Francisco Supervisor Hillary Ronen on Thursday announced the launch of a new program that will provide income to people who've tested positive for COVID-19 and have no other way of accessing funds.

The Right to Recover program would guarantee two weeks of paid wages to anyone who tests positive and doesn't have alternative access to income or benefits during their recovery period.

The GIV2SF Oversight Committee, which oversees the city's COVID-19 response and recovery fund Give2SF, has already invested $2 million in the program. The program is also made possible through collaboration between Ronen's office, the Office of Economic and Workforce Development, the Department of Public Health, and the Human Rights Commission.

According to Ronen, the Right to Recover Program was inspired by a recent study by the University of California at San Francisco that found that 90 percent of COVID-19 positive individuals in the city's Mission District were essential workers who were not able to work from home. The same study also found 95 percent of those who tested positive were Latinx.

Ronen said, "When I saw the stark results of the study, I immediately realized two things. First, the majority of COVID-19 positive individuals are working in the community and could be unknowingly spreading virus. Second, many people are not even getting tested because they know they can't afford to quarantine. I knew immediately we had to do something to address this reality."

Individuals enrolled in the program will be eligible for a minimum of two weeks pay and a maximum of four weeks. The income will be based on the city's minimum wage.

Eligibility won't be based on immigration status and parole or probation status. Additionally, citizenship questions won't be reported to any outside agency, Ronen's office said.

For now, the program is being administered through the Mission Economic Development Agency and the Young Community Developers, and plans to expand to other community-based organizations throughout the city are currently in the works.