A Sacramento County nonprofit is offering to pay $3,000 in bills if you test positive for COVID-19 at its clinic

For Gayshel Caldwell, COVID-19 has turned the tables on her household.

A 60-year-old grandmother living with her three grandchildren, she normally receives their help with shopping and daily chores. But when her daughter came home from school with COVID-19, she said it was “devastating”.

“I am an elderly lady with health issues,” she says. “COVID is especially not a friend in my condition.”

Caldwell has returned to being a caretaker, sanitizing spaces and ensuring meals reach her grandchildren behind their closed doors while they are quarantined. Still, the virus swept through the rest of the house.

That’s when local nonprofit Asian Resources, Inc. stepped in to help during the household’s quarantine and subsequent recovery. In addition to providing ready meals for his family for a week, he helped pay some of Caldwell’s bills.

ARI is offering bill assistance of up to $3,000 through June 30 to Sacramento County residents who test positive at their headquarters at 6270 Elder Creek Road.

On-site testing takes place on Wednesdays from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

“It really makes a difference physically and mentally [to have accessed the programs],” she said. “The resources have been extremely helpful – one of the best things you can experience in your life.”

For the bill assistance program, Caldwell gave a nonprofit representative copies of his bills and rental agreement, and the center paid the affected parties directly.

Billy Gougherty, program director at ARI, said the bill assistance program started as a way to get people to get tested. He thought specifically of those who may not want to take the test due to missing work, or those who may be unaware of applicable employment laws and rights.

Part-time and full-time workers are entitled to additional COVID-19 paid sick leave, which must be offered to employees who leave their place of residence for work and who work for employers with 500 or more employees throughout the country. It applies to those who tested positive between January 1 and September 30, 2022.

The ARI program is especially timely as cases and transmission increase across the country, including outbreaks in Sacramento-area schools. On May 19, the US COVID-19 Response Coordinator urged people who stopped wearing masks indoors to start over.

“COVID is not over,” Gougherty said. “It’s not over. And just as we’ve seen over the last few years, those spikes can happen. And it’s very important to be vigilant about that. And not just to keep testing regularly, but also , if you test positive, you must self-isolate.

The program covers up to $3,000 in bills, which include recurring monthly payments such as rent and utilities.

Most communication will be through email, Gougherty said, and like Caldwell’s experience, ARI requests copies of some of those invoices.

“It’s more about seeing how much their average monthly bill is, making sure the account is real and the individual is real, just to tie it all together,” he said. “Even if they were up to date on the bills, we don’t want to discourage that [they ask about participating]as it could hopefully be used as a credit towards their next bill next month.

From there, the nonprofit writes a check directly in the seller’s name and informs them that it is a check on behalf of an individual.

Gougherty said the bill relief program was made possible with funding from the Sacramento County COVID-19 Collaborative, which also supports the prepared meal delivery program.

ARI is one of 13 Sacramento community partners involved in the collaboration, along with Sacramento County and the Sierra Health Foundation.

Sierra Health Foundation President Chet Hewitt said the collaboration was designed to mitigate the impacts on those who could be hardest hit by COVID-19 financially and physically.

“People who live in dense housing, families who shared a common household were more likely to experience the spread of COVID-19 and were less likely to be able to self-isolate and do many of the things we asked people to act early to prevent the spread of the virus,” he said. “We know where you are, where you live and your socio-economic status has had a huge impact.”

Since September 2020, the collaboration has distributed more than $5 million in financial assistance through programs like ARI’s.

“People just need to realize that a lot of people are struggling or working at the same time, for whom that level of support is the difference between buying medicine and having enough food and nutrition and paying your rent and keeping the lights on. .on and do all the things we know families need to be [doing],” he said.

To learn more about the prepared meal delivery program and others offered by the Sacramento County COVID-19 Collaborative, including mental health services, you can email [email protected]

The billing assistance program ends on June 30. For more information, you can call Asian Resources, Inc. at (916) 454-1892 or send them a message.

Nicole Nixon contributed reporting.

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