SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Members of the LGBTQ+ community can now get help during the pandemic from a new COVID-19 help center website and help line launched on Monday.
Covid19.eqca.org will include full lists of service providers in all 53 counties and will feature free webinars for people out of work. Samuel Garrett-Pate, communications director with Equality California, which created the site, said it’s designed to connect people to the right resources.
“They can look up a testing site near them, if they need help filing for unemployment, applying for a small business loan, if they just need someone they can talk to because they’re dealing with mental-health challenges as a result of the crisis. All of that information is on the website,” Garrett-Pate said.
There is also a new helpline at (323) 448-0126. LGBTQ+ people have been especially hard-hit economically during the pandemic because they tend to be overrepresented in the hospitality and food service industries, which have been decimated by the lock downs.
Garrett-Pate said the LGBTQ+ community also is particularly vulnerable to the disease itself because of pre-existing medical issues.
“Higher rates of tobacco use, higher rates of HIV and cancer, lower rates of insurance,” he said. “And a lot of LBGTQ+ folks don’t actually seek out care when they need it because they fear discrimination or harassment within the health care system.”
Equality California is also pressing for better data collection to be able to track the impact of the pandemic on this community. So they support Senate Bill 932, which requires the state Department of Health to collect data on the sexual orientation and gender identity of people being tested for COVID-19.