Updated 4:49 p.m.
Health care workers who are staying in hotels to be closer to their hospitals or to protect their families from exposure to the coronavirus can get some of those costs reimbursed, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Thursday.
“We’ve talked rhetorically about meeting their needs,” he said. “But we need to do more than that … for a workforce that is deeply stressed out, deeply stretched.”
During the crisis, the state is offering vouchers and “deep discounts” on caltravelstore.com — normally used for government travel — to the state’s “frontline heroes,” Newsom said. He said low-wage health care workers will be eligible for up to 100% reimbursement.
Workers who have been exposed to or diagnosed with the virus and are staying in a hotel or motel to isolate themselves are also eligible for reimbursement, he said.
Several airlines have also offered to pay travel costs for people accepted to the state’s Health Corps program, including out-of-state and international flights. The program aims to increase staffing at hospitals and health facilities during the pandemic.
Newsom said the first round of 350 workers were being notified Thursday of their acceptance into Health Corps. They will staff emergency field medical stations sent by FEMA as part-time state employees. The program has received over 86,000 applications.
The total number of coronavirus patients in California reached 18,309.
The state saw a 1.9% drop in coronavirus ICU patients, down to 1,132, which left Newsom cautiously optimistic.
“One data point is not a trend. One data point is not a headline,” he warned. “Nonetheless, it is encouraging.”
The number of hospitalizations increased 4.1% to 2,825. So far, 492 people have died.
Newsom gave updated information on limited data collected on the racial makeup of confirmed cases. Data from 53% of confirmed cases show the trends still generally mirror the demographics of the state, though the governor warned the data is incomplete and there still is not enough testing.
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