The following information is updated as new information becomes available. For the latest information please visit the Washington State Department of Health COVID-19 webpage or the Washington State Coronavirus Response website, which brings together resources and information from DOH and various state agencies involved in the COVID-19 response.
COVID-19 and the LGBTQ community
We are all connected. And COVID-19 spreads rapidly through these connections. For all of us to stay healthy and safe, everyone in all of our communities and neighborhoods needs to stay healthy and safe.
But it doesn’t always happen this way. Communities that have experienced discrimination and stigma now or in the past often experience poorer health than other communities. For example, many people in the LGBTQ community have experienced the physical and psychological stress of being rejected by loved ones and discriminated against by community members and by health care providers. This has resulted in a health disparity—overall poorer health in this community when compared to other communities in our state.
This health disparity means that disproportionately more people who identify as LGBTQ have the underlying chronic health conditions that put us at higher risk for getting very sick from COVID-19. People in the LGBTQ community tend to have higher rates of HIV and higher rates of chronic health conditions. They are also 50% more likely to smoke tobacco.
Additionally, LGBTQ elders are more socially isolated than their heterosexual peers, making their risk due to age or health conditions more complicated. COVID-19 may also bring up difficult memories of the early days of the HIV epidemic—loved ones who died, watching a mysterious and deadly virus spread throughout the world. Youth in the LGBTQ community are more likely than other teens to be homeless or currently isolated with unsupportive family members.
To stay safe, if you identify as LGBTQ:
- Be sure to carefully follow social distancing guidelines, especially if you have a chronic health condition.
- Take care of your physical and mental health. Eat nutritious foods, sleep, exercise, meditate. If you smoke, consider cutting back. Any step to reduce smoking can have positive benefits to your long-term health.
- If you need clinical care, make a plan with your health care provider. Are you able to use telemedicine? Do you have 30 days of your needed medications at home?
- Reach out virtually to a friend. Connection is great for our mental health.
- If you are taking PrEP to prevent HIV, and not having sex as part of social distancing means you are not sexually active right now, you can take a break from PrEP, but be sure to plan ahead for when you may become sexually active again.
Numbers. The latest numbers are updated on our webpage. As of 11:59 p.m. on April 26, there are 179,679 people in Washington who have been tested for COVID-19. Of those, 13,686 people (or 7.6%) have tested positive for COVID-19. Of those, 765 people (or 5.6%) have died of the disease.
Practice compassion. Discrimination and stigma keep people from being as healthy as they could be. We are all connected. None of us are as healthy as we could be unless all of us have the opportunity to be healthy.
Latest, in-depth Public Health Connection articles based on previous COVID-19 Information sent
- COVID-19 and people with disabilities
Most people with a physical disability are not at higher risk of getting COVID-19 or of getting very sick from COVID-19 because of their disability. However, some people with disabilities may also have a chronic illness that puts us at higher risk for getting very sick from COVID-19. According to CDC, adults with disabilities are three times more likely than adults without disabilities to have heart disease, stroke, diabetes, or cancer. Some people with disabilities may be at higher risk of getting COVID-19 if they cannot avoid having close contact with others, such as caregivers, or if they live in a long-term care facility.
- We are all in this together
COVID-19 has shown us that no matter where in the world we live, we are all connected to one another. For our state to be healthy, all of our people, communities, and neighborhoods need to be healthy and able to control the spread of this virus.
- April is Child Abuse Prevention Month
COVID-19 has created a huge amount of stress for our communities and families. In times of great stress, violence in the home can increase. This Child Abuse Prevention Month, let’s remember that the best way to protect children from violence and neglect in the home is to take care of parents and families.
- When to use the emergency room
Visits to the emergency room have declined in Washington and across the country since the COVID-19 pandemic began.
- Slowly coming back
It is important to make sure that a loosening of the Stay home, Stay Healthy order does not cause more people to be infected with COVID-19 or die of the disease