Yesterday, 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.
According to The Williams Institute, a Los Angeles-based think tank on sexual orientation and gender identity law and public policy, 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 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.”