The exclusive club of former presidents — minus its most recently inducted member — is featured in two national ad campaigns released Thursday that are aimed at building confidence among Americans in the coronavirus vaccines. Trump was the only living President that would not participate. His office declined to comment.
It was one year ago today, March 10, 2020 and SARS-CoV-2 was somebody else’s problem: the residents of Wuhan, China; the doctors and nurses of northern Italy; the passengers aboard a Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan. The next day, one year ago March 11, 2020 it was here. America world changed. Everything changed in the LGBTQ community. First availability of toilet paper. A run on ordinary food and sundry products. Closure of America. Emergency protocols are starting to go into effect but it is a full two weeks before masks are regularly used.
Tomorrow morning within the first 60 seconds of the opening bell, the Dow Jones will have the largest plunge in 1 minute in history. The world health organization will declare a worldwide pandemic at 12:36 pm. At 8 pm on It’s Happening Out we lead with breaking news of the crisis of Coronavirus and how it would affect the LGBTQ community. We did not know on that show that a host at Happening Out Television was already infected with Covid 19 and likely infecting other hosts including me. Emergency protocols nor mask requirements, even though 2 ½ months had passed, were not going into effect.. A host of It’s Happening Out, RON BRENESKI is later admitted to ICU and placed on a respirator. He never leaves the ICU and dies in April. Spooked for the first time, a previously dismissive Trump addressed the nation from the Oval Office at 9 pm. Yet minutes later his remarks were overshadowed by not one but two momentous revelations: that Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson had tested positive on set in Australia — and that the NBA, reeling from its own infections, would be the first pro sports league in America to suspend its season. In quick succession, schools shut down, streets emptied, hospitals filled up and Americans who until that point had been hoping that elbow bumps would keep the virus at bay hid in their homes. We did not seem to be aware coronavirus had already been spreading across the United States for months, and it would be weeks before COVID-19 cases and deaths reached the first of their many harrowing peaks. But now the threat was real. Everything had changed. At Queer News Tonight we reported projections that by the end of the year more than 300,000 Americans and likely 21,000 LGBTQ Americans would die by New Years Eve. Many in the LGBTQ community scoffed at our projections. It did turn out we were wrong. We actually underestimated the number that would die by almost 200,000. Looking back, it’s almost impossible to recall how suddenly and completely the national consciousness shifted. According to a YouGov poll conducted on March 10 and 11, 2020, a mere 6 percent of Americans had worn a mask in public before that day. As of March 10, just 782 cases had been confirmed in the U.S.; fewer than 20,000 tests had been conducted. A staggering 88 percent of Americans predicted that the U.S. death toll, then at 28, would never top 10,000. Today, more than 527,000 Americans have died, and nearly nearly two-thirds (64 percent) tell YouGov in a new survey that they have either contracted COVID-19 themselves or seen a close friend or family member become infected. So today, and tomorrow, March 10 and March 11, 2021… we have been through a year unlike any other in history.
A year’s worth of polling and research data by Ipsos Public Affairs confirms what we have always suspected, The pandemic continues to exert a heavy toll on LGBTQ people. Economic reports and public health data have made it clear that LGBTQ have suffered the brunt of the coronavirus recession, and that a pandemic-fueled mental health crisis has disproportionately harmed LBGTQ people. Now, this data, collected by Ipsos Public Affairs, builds on that body of evidence and shows just how heavy a burden these groups have faced, highlighting stark racial inequities in who has suffered most. Even starker disparities exist between people who are LGBTQ and those who are not. It’s a gap researchers had begun to probe, but there has been little data collected in the past year. On average, between August 21 and December 21, about a third of LGBTQ people reported their mental health had declined, compared to about a fifth of people outside of the queer community, according to the Ipsos data.
President Biden said yesterday that the U.S. will produce enough vaccines for every adult in the U.S. by the end of May, while making a fresh push to vaccinate school staff over the next month. The President credited his administration’s efforts to boost production and move up the timeline from the end of July, which is what the president was saying just a few weeks ago. As announced earlier in the day, Biden said his administration is invoking the Defense Production Act to boost production of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which received emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration over the weekend.
In an unusual partnership between two pharmaceutical competitors, the administration is helping to ensure that Merck facilities can help Johnson & Johnson boost its production. Biden also called on states to prioritize teachers and school staff as essential workers in the vaccination schedule, calling for every grade-school employee and child care provider to receive at least one dose of a vaccine by the end of the month.
This news is exceptionally good for the LGBTQ community. First, it means that a Summer transition timeline is likely for LGBTQ Businesses, Pride Events and other LGBTQ events and activities. June, the traditional Pride month is likely still not going to happen in any traditional way. More importantly, with expanded vaccines, LGBTQ Americans will see a speeding recovery to allow a general return to the new normal. Fall 2021, with the reopening of schools seems to be a marker that will also be the sign of the re-opening of the broader LGBTQ community.
Johnson and Johnson CEO Alex Gorsky said yesterday that People over the next several years may need to get vaccinated against Covid-19 annually, just like seasonal flu shots. Gorsky said “Unfortunately, as [the virus] spreads it can also mutate. Every time it mutates, it’s almost like another click of the dial so to speak where we can see another variant, another mutation that can have an impact on its ability to fend off antibodies or to have a different kind of response not only to a therapeutic but also to a vaccine.” Public health officials and infectious disease experts have said there is a high likelihood that Covid-19 will become an endemic disease, meaning it will become present in communities at all times, though likely at lower levels than it is now. Medical experts predict Health officials will have to continuously watch for new variants of the virus, so scientists can produce vaccines to fight them.
A new report from the Williams Institute has found LGBTQ people of color are twice as likely to test positive for COVID-19 as white non-LGBTQ people.
According to the Williams Institute’s findings, 15 percent of LGBTQ people of color tested positive for COVID-19, compared to 7 percent of non-LGBTQ white adults. Furthermore, LGBTQ people of color were over 50 percent more likely than white non-LGBTQ people to have personally known someone who died of COVID-19. LGBTQ people of color are also more likely to experience harsher economic impact of the pandemic: 29 percent of LGBTQ people of color reported problems affording basic household goods, compared to 14 percent of non-LGBTQ white respondents. 26 percent of LGBTQ people of color reported having trouble paying their rent, almost three times the rate of straight white respondents. LGBTQ respondents of color are almost three times more likely to have been laid off recently due to the pandemic. The Williams Institute concluded “The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on LGBTQ people cannot be fully understood without considering race and ethnicity as well as sexual orientation and gender identity. The impact of the pandemic on LGBTQ people—and LGBTQ people of color specifically—must be taken into account as the federal government seeks to restore trust in institutions responding to the public health crisis and to provide support to those most economically affected by COVID-19.”
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QAnon supporters are adding to their baseless conspiracy theories the idea that people receiving COVID-19 vaccines “increases the probability of them identifying as homosexual or transgender at a later stage.” In a series of tweets, reporter Shay-an Sar-dar-is-a-day posted screenshots from the right-wing social media platform Telegram, where many QAnon conspiracists have been communicating since being kicked off of mainstream platforms like Twitter and YouTube. The images show the circulation of the disturbing myth that LGBTQ+ people are not “born this way,” but rather created through vaccination. One of the official QAnon posts said “Let’s assume [being LGBTQ+ is] genetic for a minute. Since homosexuals by and large don’t procreate their own children, their own genetics typically are not passed forward,” one post reads. “Since that is against the continuation of life, then homosexuality can’t be a dominant gene, it must be recessive. I have many homosexual friends that have said they have known they were different SINCE THEY WERE LITTLE KIDS,” the rant continues. “When is your earliest memory? 4 years old? You’ve already received 50 vaccines by then in 2020. Truly if it were genetic then the rate should be decreasing, but it’s increasing, indicating something in their environment is pushing it that direction.” According to Sar-dar-is-a-day, these two QAnon accounts have over 180,000 followers, and 56,000 followers respectively, making them some of the most popular QAnon influencers on Telegram. At Queer News Tonight we feel obliged to advise, In reality, vaccines prevent deadly and harmful diseases in humans and are essential to the reopening of the United States after nearly a year in quarantine due to the pandemic. They do not turn people autistic, gay, or transgender.
A major new study has found Social-distancing measures and lockdowns have disproportionately increased alcohol use in the LGBTQ community. The study by the University of Maryland Prevention Research Center revealed 32% of men who have sex with men (MSM) reported their substance use or binge-drinking had increased during the Covid-19 lockdown. Drinking increased among the wider population during the pandemic, too, but at a dramatically lower rate compared to the LGBTQ community. The CDC found that the frequency of alcohol consumption in the general population since the pandemic started grew by 14 percent above pre-pandemic levels. The study also found some parts of the LGBTQ community have seen particularly sharp rises in drinking over the past 11 months including 46 percent of transgender female students and 35 percent of queer-identifying students reported increased alcohol use since the start of the Covid-19 crisis. Even before the pandemic, studies found that LGBTQ people are disproportionately likely to develop alcohol dependence and addiction, due in part to dealing with additional stressors. The study’s conclusion is that Pandemic and Covid-19 have only increased the LGBTQ stressors.
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