Over 200,000 LGBT adults in California at High Risk for COVID-19

Author: The Williams Institute
Published: Thursday 21st May 2020
Summary: Over 200,00 LGBT people in California have one or more medical conditions that put them at high risk of COVID-19 illness, including asthma, diabetes, heart disease, or HIV.

Two new reports examine the health and economic vulnerabilities to COVID-19 among LGBT adults in California.

Over 200,00 LGBT people in California have one or more medical conditions that put them at high risk of COVID-19 illness, including asthma, diabetes, heart disease, or HIV, according to a new study by the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law. Approximately 361,000 LGBT adults in the state were in fair or poor health before the pandemic began.

The Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law, a think tank on sexual orientation and gender identity law and public policy, is dedicated to conducting rigorous, independent research with real-world relevance.

In addition, about 612,000 LGBT Californians were living below 200% of the federal poverty level prior to the pandemic. An estimated 251,000 of them were working in industries facing substantial job losses, such as hospitality, health care, retail, and construction. The economic fallout of the pandemic is likely to significantly impact these LGBT people due to their pre-existing vulnerabilities. Using data from the California Health Interview Survey, researchers examined the health and economic characteristics that may increase vulnerability to COVID-19 for the nearly 1.7 million LGBT adults in California.

"California is home to nearly 15% of all LGBT adults in the United States," said author Kathryn O'Neill, public policy analyst at the Williams Institute. "And our studies found that many of them were facing health and economic challenges even before the pandemic. It is important that we have data on the impact of COVID-19 on the LGBT population in order to develop interventions that address their specific combination of needs."




Economic Vulnerabilities

Currently, California's COVID-19 monitoring systems do not collect data on sexual orientation or gender identity, making it impossible to track the impact of the virus on LGBT people. A bill introduced in the California Legislature, SB 932, would require monitoring systems to include questions to identify LGBT people. If passed, California would become the first state in the country to collect such data.

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