A group of health officials, including former U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, has sent a letter to Congressional leaders that suggests paying some Americans $50 per day to remain in self-isolation in order to slow the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, Yahoo Finance reports.
Leaders of the House of Representatives and the Senate are currently debating the next round of coronavirus legislation — legislation that will likely include various monies for individuals and businesses, in addition to those monies provided by the recently-passed CARES Act.
And while leaders hammer out how much money will be allocated, and for whom, one group of health officials hopes that that next round of legislation will pay Americans $50 per day to self-isolate.
The group, which includes former Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services administrator Andy Slavitt, former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, and Murthy, has written a letter to Congressional leaders laying out why it thinks legislators should authorize that money.
“A key ingredient in maximizing the ability to contain COVID-19 is the ability 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,” the letter reads in part.
Officials compared the daily stipend to the amount of money some Americans are paid for performing jury duty.
Americans who can’t self-isolate in their homes would be sent to live in vacant hotels, as such facilities all across the country are now effectively out of business due to the pandemic.
Sending Americans to vacant hotels to self-isolate is not without precedent: in New York, hospitals are discharging some recovered COVID-19 patients and sending them to live in vacant hotels.
The proposal would not only help contain the spread of the coronavirus, but it would also inject some much-needed money into the devastated hotel industry.
It’s expected to cost $4.5 billion.
The details of the proposal, such as which Americans would qualify for the money and what conditions they’d have to meet in order to be considered “self-isolating,” remain unclear as of this writing.
Another aspect of the group’s proposal includes allocating money for contact tracing. The process, in which all of the people with whom an infected person may have had contact are identified and located, has been lauded as a key component in South Korea’s handling of the pandemic. However, doing so in the United States would require about 180,000 people to carry out the work, in addition to those already employed in the process. The proposal calls for allocating money to hire, train, and pay such people.