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Coronavirus

LA Pride postpones June celebration due to coronavirus concerns

Move comes as requirement of City of West Hollywood

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(Logo via LA Pride)

All events related to LA Pride are now postponed, it was reported by Christopher Street West President Estevan Jose Montemayor in a phone call to Los Angeles Blade. “We will be announcing a date in the near future for later this year.”

The City of West Hollywood had earlier issued a statement earlier in the day that suggested City Hall staff and leadership from Christopher Street West were evaluating the event. No details are available on negotiations that lead to postponement announcement, however.

LA Pride posted a notice to the community on Twitter.

The move follows a notice from the City of West Hollywood saying that “All Events (City-Sponsored, City Co-Sponsored, City-Funded or requiring a City Permit) will be postponed or canceled.”

The press release follows:

“The City of West Hollywood is continuing to follow the lead of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (Public Health), the California Department of Public Health (CA Public Health), and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to respond to coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

The City of West Hollywood is taking every precaution to prioritize community health and well-being. Based on public health recommendations from lead agencies and in an effort to safeguard public health and slow the rate of transmission of novel coronavirus, the City of West Hollywood is immediately implementing a series of immediate actions.

The City of West Hollywood is implementing the following actions through June 30, 2020:

  • All Events (City-Sponsored, City Co-Sponsored, City-Funded or requiring a City Permit) will be postponed or canceled;
  • The City encourages postponement or cancellations for private gatherings that cannot accommodate space for social distancing of at least six feet per person;
  • The City encourages businesses in the community to develop plans to limit occupancy in order to encourage social distancing mindful of public health recommendations;
  • Gatherings of individuals who are at risk for severe illness from novel coronavirus, such as seniors and people with immunodeficiency or autoimmune disorders, should be limited to no more than 10 people (examples include people at senior centers, assisted living facilities, multi-unit housing buildings, and support groups for people with underlying medical conditions);
  • All public meetings, including Advisory Board and Commission meetings, will be cancelled unless the City determines there are essential business items to be discussed; the City Council meeting calendar is currently being reviewed and updates will be posted at weho.org;
  • Cancellations include the Helen Albert Certified Farmers’ Market; and
  • Regarding the Los Angeles Pride in West Hollywood Festival and Parade, City Hall staff and leadership from Christopher Street West are in close communication to assess the annual Pride celebration and the City will provide information as it becomes available.

The City of West Hollywood is immediately implementing the following actions regarding recreation programs for a one-week period through March 19, 2020 and the City will assess public health guidance during this period in order to extend cancellations, if necessary, in order to safeguard public health:

  • The West Hollywood Aquatic Center/Pool and all current Recreation programs and classes are cancelled immediately for a one-week period; and
  • Childcare programs will remain open, but are subject to change based upon public health direction.

The City of West Hollywood is in the process of updating its calendar of events and meetings and updates will be available at www.weho.org/calendar.

“Public safety is job number one and the City of West Hollywood is taking great care to assist our partners in public health to the fullest extent possible,” said City of West Hollywood Mayor John D’Amico. “Right now, our focus is doing our part to flatten the curve of the disease progression by focusing on essential City business functions and cancelling events under the City’s purview. Social distancing has been proven effective in other regions and we are following best practices to slow down the spread of this virus so our healthcare system does not become overwhelmed at this time. Please remain calm and take care of yourselves and each other. Follow the guidance from L.A. County Public Health and the CDC. Our community navigated the global HIV/AIDS pandemic and we will get through this if we follow guidelines – and, please, let’s do this the WeHo way with kindness and empathy.”

The City of West Hollywood’s decision to cancel and postpone events and meetings is a precautionary measure in response to public health recommendations for social distancing. The timely implementation of aggressive strategies that create social distance and those that reduce close contact of people not regularly together, including limiting gatherings, has proven effective in prior pandemics at delaying rates of transmission and reducing illness and death. In a recent statement, Los Angeles County Director of Public Health Barbara Ferrer, Ph.D., M.P.H., M.Ed. said: “With the discovery of community spread yesterday, we will continue to see more cases of COVID-19 in L.A. County. With more cases, we are urging people with underlying health conditions, pregnant women, and the elderly to practice social distancing by avoiding non-essential travel, public events, community gatherings, and indoor venues.”

Public health experts note that local communities are the first step in working together in the United States and across the globe to slow the rate of transmission of novel coronavirus and that communities can do their part to “flatten the curve” to help contain the virus spread. That means taking precautions, even by people who are not sick or at high-risk. The epidemic curve, a statistical chart used to visualize when and at what speed new cases are reported, could be flattened, rather than being allowed to rise exponentially by employing tactics such as social distancing and cancelling of non-essential events and travel.

At this time, West Hollywood City Hall will remain open for business transactions with newly implemented protocols for sanitization. At City facilities, the schedule of sanitization and cleaning has been increased and additional hand-sanitizer stations and individual hand sanitizer bottles at service counters have been made available; disinfecting wipes are available on an as-needed basis. The City has also begun use of a disinfectant solution at all transit shelters and kiosks and in heavily trafficked locations in public rights of way.

The City of West Hollywood will post updates on its website at www.weho.org/coronavirus and the City encourages community members to follow @wehocity on Twitter and Facebook and Instagram and turn on notifications for up-to-date information regarding details in the City of West Hollywood.

To view essential-business City meetings, tune in to WeHoTV at:

For notifications by email, subscribe to the City’s E-Notifications at www.weho.org/email. Visit the City’s event and meetings calendar at www.weho.org/calendar and news archive at www.weho.org/news.

For updates and information about the current numbers of COVID-19 cases in the United States and in Los Angeles County, the spread of the virus, severity, treatments, precautions, and other important public health information in multiple languages, please visit websites for:

www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html

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Coronavirus

L.A. County on track to bring back mandatory indoor masking

If LA county stays in CDC designated High Community Level for 2 consecutive weeks officials would implement a universal indoor masking

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Photo Credit: County of Los Angeles

LOS ANGELES – The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health indicated that if the upward trend in coronavirus numbers continues, due to the increased circulation of the more infectious BA.4 and BA.5 Omicron subvariants coupled with increased community spread, officials may order a return to indoor masks.

On Friday, Public Health said that while the county currently remains at the CDC designated COVID-19 Medium Community Level. There are increasing concerns about the impact of new Omicron sub-variants on transmission and hospitalizations that could result in the County moving into the High Community Level designation sometime later this summer.

Barbara Ferrer, Director of LA County Public Health expressed concern and cautioned Angelenos as the region prepares for the July 4th holiday weekend.

“Since July 4 is right around the corner and many of us are looking forward to celebrating Independence Day with family and friends, it is important to remember that many of our loved ones may be older adults, or have serious underlying health conditions, or not yet been vaccinated and boosted,” Ferrer said.

“Given the rising number of COVID cases and hospitalizations, and the increased circulation of the more infectious BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants, it is extra important to take steps that reduce the risk of transmission especially over the long holiday weekend; this helps us protect ourselves, our families, and our community,” She continued adding, “With a little planning, you can have a great time celebrating while keeping each other safe. Please be sure to remind friends and family to stay home and skip the celebration if they feel sick or have tested positive.  It is also a great idea for everyone to test themselves before getting together, ideally on the day of the gathering. It is always best to celebrate outdoors, and if people come indoors for part of the gathering, wearing a mask is advisable, particularly if there are individuals at high risk of severe illness should they become infected.”

LA County Public Health pointed out in a statement that six of the seven Early Alert metrics Public Health are tracking continue to convey cause for Medium or High Concern. Moreover, in the past week, four Early Alert Signals moved upward in the level of concern: The case rate in the lowest income areas and the number of new outbreaks at Skilled Nursing Facilities per week, both moved up to High Concern.

The number of new outbreaks in settings for People Experiencing Homelessness is now at Medium Concern. And the number of worksite clusters increased, moving from Medium to High Concern for the first time since Public Health started tracking this metric in early March.

There was also an uptick in the percentage of Emergency Department Visits. The only measure indicating Low Concern is the number of sewer systems with a two-fold increase in viral load.

The first of two hospital metrics in the CDC Community Levels Framework is the seven-day total of new hospital admissions per 100,000, which rose this past week to 8.1 admissions per 100,000 people. This is a 56% increase compared to one month ago. The second hospital metric, the seven-day average for the proportion of staffed inpatient beds occupied by COVID-19 patients, also increased this past week to 4.2%.

If the county moves into the CDC designated High Community Level and remains there for two consecutive weeks, the county would implement a universal indoor masking requirement for everyone age 2 and older in LA County as a safety measure aligned with the CDC framework. The safety measure would remain in effect until the county returned to the CDC Medium Community Level designation, or lower, for two consecutive weeks. 

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Coronavirus

CDC: 85% of gay & lesbian adults in U.S. are vaccinated against COVID

Data on COVID-19 vaccination among LGBTQ persons limited because of the lack of routine SOGI data collection at the national & state levels

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Photo Credit: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention/GSA

ATLANTA – A new study report released Friday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, (CDC), found that found 85.4% of gay and lesbian Americans above age 18 had received at least one vaccine dose as of October 2021.

The study, conducted from August 29 until October 30, 2021, also found that by comparison, only 76.3% of heterosexuals reported receiving at least an initial dose by the same date.

The report noted that Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) populations have higher prevalence of health conditions associated with severe COVID-19 illness compared with non-LGBT populations.

The potential for low vaccine confidence and coverage among LGBT populations is of concern because these persons historically experience challenges accessing, trusting, and receiving health care services

Data on COVID-19 vaccination among LGBT persons are limited, in part because of the lack of routine data collection on sexual orientation and gender identity at the national and state levels.

In March of 2021, the Blade reported the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has revealed deep-seated inequities in health care for communities of color and amplifies social and economic factors that have contributed to those communities being hit hardest, and Mega-vaccination centers set up by California health officials and the Federal Emergency Management Agency have been addressing and tracking the issue- the LGBTQ communities are still not being tracked.

This lack of data collection has frustrated and angered California State Senator Scott Wiener who authored a bill last year that passed through the legislature and signed by Governor Gavin Newsom last Fall that mandates gathering sexual orientation and gender identity data related to the COVID testing in California.

“We’re one year into the pandemic, and LGBTQ people continue to be erased in our public health response to COVID-19 — similar to our invisibility throughout history. No government is successfully tracking COVID-19 cases in the LGBTQ community, despite a law I wrote mandating that California do so,” Weiner told the Blade. “And, we now know that LGBTQ people are more vulnerable to COVID-19. We’ve also just learned that vaccination demographic data doesn’t include LGBTQ data. It simply shocking that in 2021, progressive health agencies continue to forget about our community,” he added.

The CDC also noted that gay and lesbian adults were more likely to be concerned about COVID-19 and to believe in the safety and efficacy of vaccines.

“We know that the prevalence of certain health conditions associated with severe COVID-19 illness, such as cancer, smoking, and obesity, are higher in LGBT populations, and access to health care continues to be an issue for some people in the LGBT community,” Dr. A.D. McNaghten, a member of the CDC’s COVID-19 Emergency Response Team and corresponding author of the study, told ABC News. “We wanted to see if vaccination coverage among LGBT persons was the same as non-LGBT persons.”

The CDC data recorded that bisexual and transgender adults had similar vaccination rates to heterosexual adults with 72.6% of bisexual adults fully vaccinated by the end of October, as were 71.4% of transgender adults. The numbers however for Black and Hispanic lesbian women had lower rates of vaccination at 57.9% and 72.6%, respectively, compared to Black and Hispanic heterosexual women at 75.6% and 80.5%, respectively.

Higher percentages of gay or lesbian adults and bisexual adults reported that they thought COVID-19 vaccine was very or somewhat important to protect oneself (90.8% and 86.8%, respectively) compared with heterosexual adults (80.4%), and higher percentages of adults who identified as transgender or nonbinary reported they thought COVID-19 vaccine was very or somewhat important to protect oneself (83.2%) compared with those who did not identify as transgender or nonbinary (80.7%).

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Coronavirus

White House orders distribution of 400 million free N95 masks

Dr. Tom Inglesby, the administration’s Covid testing coordinator; “We know that these masks provide better protection than cloth masks”

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President Joe Biden (Blade file photo/screenshot)

WASHINGTON – As the latest surge of the highly contagious and easily transmissible Omicron variant of the coronavirus continues to cause a rise in hospitalizations, especially among unvaccinated adults and children, the White House announced Wednesday it is making 400 million N95 masks available for free at thousands of locations across the nation.

The plan an admkistartion official said, is to start shipping the nonsurgical masks to pharmacies and community health centers to distribute this week, which will come from the Strategic National Stockpile.

In an interview with NBC News, Dr. Tom Inglesby, the administration’s Covid testing coordinator, said, “We know that these masks provide better protection than cloth masks.”

The N95 masks will be made available to everybody, and recipients will not be prioritized based on vulnerability to Covid, income or other criteria. Inglesby said the administration was “confident that people who want to access them will be able to access them,” but it was not immediately clear how many masks a person could receive at one time.

On January 13, President Joe Biden had announced a plan to have the government distribute 1 billion rapid, at-home COVID-19 tests free to Americans, along with the N95 masks, as the administration works to fight the spiraling upward spike in coronavirus cases.

The White House website to order free at-home Covid tests went live Tuesday. The website says: “Every home in the U.S. is eligible to order 4 free at-home COVID-19 tests. The tests are completely free. Orders will usually ship in 7-12 days.”

A White House official said Wednesday that the distribution of 400 million masks would be the largest deployment of personal protective equipment in U.S. history.

Inglesby told NBC News that the administration was “absolutely preparing for the possibility of additional variants in the future” and that people could expect the government to make N95 masks “more and more available.”

Biden announces free masks, tests to fight omicron:

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