Today, President Biden signed an executive order to combat the health and economic impact of COVID-19. The executive action focuses on strengthening public health measures, such as mask-wearing and social distancing, optimizing testing and vaccine distribution, extending eviction and foreclosure moratoriums, and continuing the deferment of student loan payments.
Williams Institute research shows that many LGBT adults are particularly vulnerable to serious illness related to COVID-19. According to one recent study, an estimated 319,800 transgender adults in the U.S. have one or more medical conditions, such as asthma, diabetes, and heart disease that put them at increased risk of serious illness related to COVID-19. Another study estimated that over 800,000 LGBT adults in the U.S. are age 65 and older.
LGBT people also faced serious economic hardships even before the pandemic began. Nationwide, 22% of LGBT adults experienced poverty and 27% faced food insecurity, compared to 16% and 15% of non-LGBT adults, respectively. About 667,100 transgender adults lived below 200% of the poverty line and 139,700 were unemployed.
LGBT adults are more likely to be renters. Williams Institute research found 50% of LGBT adults were homeowners, compared to 70% of non-LGBT adults. In addition, 1.4. million LGBT adults have student loans.
“LGBT people are more likely than the general population to experience poverty, food insecurity, be uninsured, and lack access to proper medical care. And the pandemic has only exacerbated these disparities,” said Kathryn O’Neill, public policy analyst at the Williams Institute. “Making sure that LGBT people are included in recovery efforts and have access to health care and other support systems is vital to prevent the widening of health and economic inequities.”
Key findings from Williams Institute research include
- In California, one of the states hardest hit by the pandemic , an estimated 361,000 LGBT adults in California are in fair or poor health. Many LGBT adults in California have underlying medical conditions that elevate their risk of serious illness related to COVID-19:
- 216,000 have asthma
- 114,000 have diabetes
- 81,000 have heart disease
- Over 160,000 LGB and 9,000 transgender adults in California are age 65 and older.
- 134,000 LGBT adults in California do not have health insurance.
- 150,000 LGBT adults in California have delayed or skipped needed medical care because of cost, or lack of insurance.
- Throughout the U.S., many transgender adults have medical conditions that put them at increased risk of COVID-19:
- 208,500 have asthma
- 81,100 have diabetes
- 72,700 have heart disease.
- Approximately 217,000 transgender adults in the U.S. are age 65 or older.
- Unemployment among LGBT adults in the U.S. (95%) was nearly double that of cisgender, straight adults (5%) before the pandemic began.
- In California, 140,000 LGBT adults were unemployed before the pandemic began.
- 814,000 LGBT adults in California were employed in industries that have been heavily impacted by the pandemic, including health care and social assistance. 251,000 of them earned below 200% of the poverty line.
- One in three cisgender bisexual women (29.4%), transgender adults (29.4%), LGBT Black (30.8%), Latino/a (37.3%), and American Indian or Alaska Native (32.4%) adults were living in poverty before the pandemic began.
- In California, over half of LGBT adults who earned below 200% of the federal poverty line were people of color, including 193,000 Latino/a adults, 43,000 African American adults, 56,000 adults, 5,000 American Indian/Alaska Native adults, 2,000 Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander adults, and 27,000 who were multiracial.
- Over 3 million LGBT adults in the U.S., including 300,000 LGBT adults in California experienced food insecurity before the pandemic began.
- About 667,100 transgender adults in the U.S. lived below 200% of the poverty line and 139,700 were unemployed before the pandemic began.
- Before the pandemic began, experiences of homelessness were considerably higher among transgender adults (8.3%) compared to cisgender, straight (1.4%) and LGB adults (2.5%).