LGBT people are likely worried about the potential impact of Coronavirus 2019 on their health. People at particular risk should talk to their health providers about their options for protecting themselves from infection.
Updated March 27, 2020
What is Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center doing?
Our organization prioritizes health promotion and health equity for the LGBT community, so we are taking COVID-19 seriously and are taking the following precautionary measures:
- ALL programs and services for adults are cancelled through May 15th. Some supportive services may be offered in virtual formats, please check the event page on our website to know if the program is happening virtually or if it is cancelled.
- Project SILK Lehigh Valley will be operating as a virtual program through May 15. Lehigh Valley LGBT youth age 14-21 can receive the program schedule by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
- All staff have been instructed to work from home and will be available by email. Voicemails will be responded to within 24 hours.
- Non-essential work travel for staff is suspended through May 15th.
- Please note that per Governor Wolf's March 23, 2020 order, Lehigh, Northampton, and Monroe counties are under a stay-at-home order until further notice
Other Lehigh Valley LGBT community updates:
- Metropolitan Community Church of the Lehigh Valley (MCCLV) programming updates can be found here: https://mailchi.mp/6f72a79a83c2/covidcontinued-4769980
- LGBTQ Business Council's 2020 LGBT Business Summit has been cancelled
- LGBT students at Lehigh University can reach out to the campus pride center staff for virtual support
- Eastern PA Trans Equity Project is offering virtual group meetings for Lehigh Valley Renaissance and for their spouses of trans community members group.
- Rainbow Mountain Resort and Stonewall Lehigh Valley are closed.
- NOVUS ACS is open for medical appointments by appointment only, they are not accepting walk-ins due to COVID-19
- LGBT community members in need of food access during this difficult time: MCCLV has a food access fund (email email@example.com) and so does the Eastern PA Trans Equity Project (for Trans community members, apply here)
Why are LGBT people at particular risk for Coronavirus 2019?
Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) people are at particular risk for Coronavirus disease 2019 (or COVID-19) as a result of several factors:
We use tobacco at rates that are 50% higher than the general population. Coronavirus 2019 is a respiratory illness that has proven particularly harmful to smokers.
Higher rates of HIV and cancer among LGBTQ+ individuals mean that a greater number of us may have compromised immunity, leaving us more vulnerable to Coronavirus infection.
LGBTQ+ people experience health disparities. Health disparities affect the potential Coronavirus 2019 impact on us in two ways:
- Access to care barriers leaves us less likely to get medical care, and
- Existing health disparities mean more of us live in a state of compromised health.
What can I do to avoid getting this coronavirus?
There is currently no vaccine to prevent COVID-19.
Stay tuned to alerts by your local or state health departments about advisories related to your region.
Avoid being within three feet of people who show symptoms of illness. Instead of kissing or shaking hands, consider bumping elbows or touching your heart in greeting.
While there is no accurate estimation of how long Coronavirus 2019 can remain infectious after virus droplets land on surfaces, similar Coronaviruses have shown they can remain infectious for up to nine days. (As comparison, a flu virus remains infectious for about 24 hours.) This means there is likely a greater risk of catching Coronavirus 2019 from a surface.
Coronavirus does not get into our body through our skin, it gets into our body through mucous membranes. The most common route of transmission is from the hands (which touch the infected surface) to the mucous membranes on our faces. One study of medical students showed they touched their faces on average 23 times every hour. While we cannot always control our exposure to the virus, we can control the behaviors that make it easier for this virus to get into our bodies.
- Every time we wash our hands correctly, we kill any Coronavirus on our hands. This includes washing for at least 20 seconds with any type of soap, being sure to get all hand surfaces scrubbed. If soap is not available hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol will also work.
- When we stop touching our face with our hands, we also interrupt the highway of transmission. It is thought that we touch our faces so often as a way to comfort ourselves. Start practicing changing this pattern now, it will help you avoid not just this Coronavirus, but many other common viral infections as well. Even something as simple as using a tissue to touch our face instead of our fingers can stop this transmission vector.
- A face mask is only recommended if you are ill, it is not effective in protecting you from becoming ill.
Are there special precautions that LGBT people should take?
If an LGBT person has cancer, smokes, is HIV+, is over 65 years old, or has any other fragile health condition, consider taking additional measures to avoid risk of infection. This could include more vigilance about staying away from symptomatic people, it could include avoiding larger gatherings of people, and should definitely include practicing excellent epidemic hygiene, like frequent hand washing and breaking habits of face-touching.
All smokers should know they can access free tobacco cessation services by calling or visiting
What should I do if I think I may have this coronavirus?
Hospital hotlines for phone screening and determination if you need a Coronavirus test:
Lehigh Valley Health Network: 1-800-402-LVHN and ask for MyLVHNRN to be screened.
St. Luke's University Health Network: 1-866-785-8537, option 7. More info from St. Luke's is available here.
Please do not go an ER or emergi-center until you have called one of the hotlines.
As you travel to get health care, remember:
- Cover your mouth in some way so you do not unwittingly transmit to others, and
- Wash your own hands frequently and minimize touching common surfaces.
Staying home while you are sick is the best way to avoid further transmitting the disease to others.
Background on Coronavirus 2019
Coronavirus disease 2019 (or COVID-19) is a respiratory illness caused by a novel (or new) coronavirus that was first identified in an outbreak in Wuhan, China, in December 2019. It is a respiratory illness that spreads from person to person through small droplets expelled when a person coughs or sneezes.
Symptoms can range from mild to severe. They usually include a fever, dry cough, and shortness of breath. Currently there is an estimated fatality rate of 3.4% for people with COVID-19; it is highest for men, people over 60, and smokers. We have no information what the fatality rate might be for people with HIV or other immunosuppressed individuals, like those undergoing cancer care.
Mental Health Resources during social distancing:
This time can be very hard for so many of us. When you may need them, please reach out to these resources below. They are very helpful to many of us.
- Trevor Project (LGBT suicide prevention hotline): 1-866-488-7386
- Trans Lifeline: 1-877-565-8860
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255
- Crisis Text Line: Text START to 741-741
- SAGE National LGBT Elder Hotline: 877-360-LGBT (5428)
- NIH Interim Guidance on COVID-19 for People Living With HIV/AIDS (March 20, 2020)
- NYC Department of Health Guidance on Sex and Coronavirus 2019 (March 21, 2020)
- Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund's Know Your Rights Guide During COVID-19
- Protect yourself from COVID-19: Stop Smoking and Vaping Now (CA Dept. of Public Health)
- Coronavirus Top Targets: Men, Seniors, Smokers
- How to have sex in the COVID-19 Pandemic
- What you need to know about coronavirus and HIV
- What People with HIV Need to Know About the New Coronavirus
- Stop Touching Your Face!
- How to Stop Touching Your Face
- A Simple Way You Can Prevent Infection and Illness
- How to Protect Yourself From the Flu During Cancer Treatment
- CDC: Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)
- WHO: Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) advice for the public
- Pennsylvania Department of Health COVID-19 information
information on this page is provided in partnership with the National LGBT Cancer Network
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