Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, more than 546 million cases have been documented. Although the vast majority of people recover, the world has lost more than 6.3 million people to this virus. []
Some experts suspect the actual figures could be much higher since at-home testing has become readily available. People also get sick, but think it might be a regular cold or allergies, so they don’t seek treatment.
One nonprofit in Sacramento County, California, wants to change how people think about COVID-19. Until June 30, 2022, anyone who tests positive at the headquarters of Asian Resources Inc can receive up to $3,000 of bill assistance.
Billy Gougherty is the program director at this nonprofit agency. “COVID is not over,” he said. “Just as we’ve seen in the years past, spikes can happen, and it’s very important to be vigilant about this.”
Doughtery says that regular testing and isolation from others after receiving a positive result are the keys to controlling the spread of this virus.
This Program Covers Recurring Monthly Payments
Gayshell Caldwell lives with her three grandchildren. When her daughter came home from school after testing positive for COVID, she said the results were devastating. “I’m an older lady with health issues,” the 60-year-old said. “COVID is especially not a friend in my condition.” []
Even though she quarantined the grandkids, disinfected spaces, and became a full-time caretaker, the virus swept through the entire house. Without the help of ARI, it might not have been possible to pay her bills.
The nonprofit’s program covers recurring monthly expenses for those who test positive at their headquarters. Once someone qualifies for assistance, they provide copies of their bills and lease agreement. ARI then contacts the relevant parties to offer direct payments, notifying the creditor that it is meant for that person’s account.
Until September 30, 2022, anyone who works for a company with more than 500 employees must provide supplemental paid sick leave to those who test positive. Most workers in the United States are hired by small businesses that don’t meet that threshold, which means taking time off from work could mean not getting a check. []
Gougherty says that most of their communication happens over email when someone qualifies for the financial assistance program. Asking for copies of the bills ensures that the appropriate creditors get paid.
“It’s more so to see how much their average monthly bill is,” Gougherty said, “to make sure the account is real and the individual is real, just to link up everything. Even if they were current on the bills, we don’t want to discourage participation because it could be used as hopefully a credit for their next bill.
ARI’s Mission Is to Respond to Low-Income Communities
ARI formed in 1980 to address the needs of Asian newcomers in the Sacramento area. They began to offer job assistance, English classes, senior and youth programs, and health education services.
Many of the staff members that form the foundation of ARI come from the community it was founded to serve. That is done by design to ensure a direct link to those who require help while delivering compassion and empathy.
ARI’s funding comes from grants, fundraising events, and direct contributions.
More Than $5 Million in Financial Assistance Has Been Delivered
ARI is one of 13 community-based partners in the area that make up the Sacramento County COVID-19 Collaborative. The county government and the Sierra Health Foundation are also involved in this effort.
Chad Hewitt serves as the President of the Sierra Health Foundation. He says the collaborative works to mitigate some of the adverse impacts of those who get hit with some of COVID’s worst physical and financial hardships.
“Folks who live in dense housing and families who share a common household are more likely to experience the spread of COVID and less likely to be able to isolate and do many of the things that we asked people to do early on to prevent the spread of the virus, Hewitt said. “We know that where you are, where you live, and your socioeconomic status has a huge impact.”
The collaborative has distributed over $5 million in financial assistance through programs like the one at ARI that offers $3,000 for bills.
“This level of support makes the difference between buying medicine and having enough food and nutrition, and paying your rent, and keeping the lights on, and doing all the things that we know families need to do,” Hewitt said.
Prepared meal deliveries and mental health services are also available through ARI and the collective. More information is available by contacting SacCollab@SHFcenter.org.
[] COVID Live - Coronavirus Statistics - Worldometer (worldometers.info); [] A Sacramento County nonprofit is offering to pay $3,000 worth of bills if you test positive for COVID-19 at their clinic - capradio.org; [] FAQs on California COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave