California To Begin Collecting Data On COVID-19's LGBTQ Impact

Supporters of gay marriage rally on the steps of the State Capitol November 22, 2008 in Sacramento, California.
Photo credit Max Whittaker/Getty Images

California’s testing data shows how COVID-19 has disproportionately impacted the Latinx community in the Bay Area and beyond.

Now, the state will start examining how the pandemic is affecting the LGBTQ community.

"Improving our data is like getting a new pair of glasses that helps us see more clearly," said Dr. Mark Ghaly, California Secretary of Health and Human Services.

State Senator Scott Wiener believes the old pair left a significant blind spot.

"The data that we have around racial disparities and age disparities has been completely invaluable and it allows us to make good decisions about how to prevent certain communities from being badly harmed," Wiener explained. "But we’re not collecting any data on COVID-19’s impact on the LGBTQ community."

.@GavinNewsom announced CA to collect sexual orientation/gender identity data on #COVID19 & all reportable diseasesWe've pushed 4 this critical step w/ LGTBQ data bill #SB932 – just expanded 2 include all communicable diseases (1st law of its kind). It's critical to codify this

— Senator Scott Wiener (@Scott_Wiener) July 28, 2020

That’s changing, as the state’s Public Health Department will begin to track sexual orientation and gender identity in COVID-19 patients. 

"Our community has higher rates of cancer, HIV, smoking and homelessness," Wiener said. "So, we suspect that LGBTQ people are being harder hit (by COVID-19)."

Advocates have wanted this action for months. 

"The last thing we wanted was to be saddled with a whole stack of data that we weren’t able to turn into actionable information so as many things it took some time," Dr. Ghaly admitted.

New guidelines introduced by Senator Wiener will apply to all communicable diseases reported to the health department.

Watch more of Dr. Ghaly's Tuesday briefing on the state's COVID-19 efforts below.