Health care workers fighting the COVID-19 outbreak on the front lines will have access to free or low-cost hotel rooms to help avoid potentially spreading the virus after their shifts, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced on Thursday.
When not working, many workers have had to spend their time off elsewhere, away from home and from their families to protect them from any potential exposure, with some “spending their own money to go to a motel or a hotel overnight,” Newsom said Thursday, during a live briefing.
“We’ve heard countless examples of these stories, and instead of continuing to absorb these stories, we wanted to do something more and something better,” the governor added.
California will offer health care workers and caregivers vouchers and stipends, “and in many cases for low-wage workers, 100% reimbursable costs at hotels” across the state, said Newsom.
Access to vouchers is available through the state’s latest website, caltravelstore.com. The new program will be funded from a $25 million donation from Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and aid from the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s disaster relief funds, the governor said.
The state has already identified 150 hotels that have opted in to provide discounted rates and more have expressed interest in signing up for the program, state officials said. Hotels interested in applying can email [email protected].
Newsom also announced a state partnership with United Airlines that will provide free, roundtrip flights for volunteer medical staff from across California and the nation who joined the state’s health care workforce, as talks for additional partnerships with other airlines such as Delta, Southwest and Alaska Airlines are underway.
In California, as of Thursday there were 18,309 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 492 deaths, said Newsom.