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COVID-19 factors in hate crimes spike

Critics fault Trump’s use of ‘Chinese virus’



hate crimes, gay news, Washington Blade

President Donald Trump has refused to refer to the virus by its given scientific label, instead referring to it as ‘the Chinese Virus.’ (Photo by Gage Skidmore via Flickr)

LOS ANGELES — As the number of Coronavirus (COVID-19) cases increases daily in California there has also been a sharp increase in incidents of racist or hateful comments directed at Asian-Americans, LGBTQ people, and immigrants. These incidents represent a spike in an already worrisome trend of anti-LGBTQ animus, Lecia Brooks, a spokesperson for the Southern Poverty Law Center, (SPLC) tells the Los Angeles Blade.

A significant factor fueling the frequency of this trend is the racist rhetoric of President Donald Trump, Brooks says. Trump has refused to refer to the virus and the accompanying pandemic by its given scientific label, instead referring to it as ‘the Chinese Virus,’ in press briefings and photo opportunities. This has also caused some members of the West Wing staff to label it inaccurately and in a seemingly racist way. On March 17, CBS News White House correspondent Weijia Jang, a Chinese-American tweeted, “This morning a White House official referred to #Coronavirus as the “Kung Flu” to my face. Makes me wonder what they’re calling it behind my back,” she wrote.

In a press briefing later by the White House Coronavirus Response Task Force, when pressed by the assembled press corps, Trump deflected on the question of evading personal responsibility instead insisting that his label was accurate because the now global pandemic’s epicenter was China. During another briefing, in a moment captured by Washington Post photographer Jabin Botsford that showed Trump’s notes and remarks laid out on the podium, the word “coronavirus” was marked out and replaced with “Chinese Virus” in Trump’s trademark black Sharpie.

Throughout the pandemic, Trump has been unrepentant in his labeling, which gives white nationalists and others freedom to be deplorable and racist toward other Americans the SPLC’s Brooks says.

In California, the rise in hateful incidents, especially those directed at Asian Californians, caused California’s Attorney General Xavier Becerra to post his own push back on Twitter. “Bigotry is not the cure to this public health crisis. Racism and xenophobia will not be tolerated — and in fact, they only make this moment worse. Let’s work together and listen to our public health officials,” he wrote.

But other minority communities have also been the targets of hateful commentary, the LGBTQ community being targeted by religious fundamentalists including notoriously homophobic Rev. Rick Wiles, a pastor, and presidential ‘spiritual’ adviser from Vero Beach, Fla.

“Plagues are one of the last steps of judgment,” Wiles said in a broadcast of his TruNews program at the end of January. He then went on to say that China is a “godless communist government” and “the United States is not much better.”

“Look at the spiritual rebellion that is in this country, the hatred of God, the hatred of the Bible, the hatred of righteousness,” he warned. “Just vile, disgusting people in this country now, transgendering little children, perverting them. Look at the rapes, and the sexual immorality, and the filth on our TVs and our movies.”

More worrisome than the elevated number of hate/racist incidents directed at others during the COVID-19 pandemic says SPLC’s Brooks, is the overall disturbing trend of anti-LGBTQ hate crimes and incidents, which has seen a 43 percent increase even as the overall numbers of hate groups actually have been in decline.

The primary factor and consideration Brooks points out is the president’s close relationship with anti-LGBTQ groups such as the Washington D.C.-based Family Research Council, and homophobes like Wiles.

According to the Southern Poverty Law Center’s annual Year in Hate and Extremism report released on March 18, the white nationalist movement that was emboldened by the election of President Trump grew for a second straight year in 2019, as the number of hate groups in the movement, rose to 155 – a 55 percent increase since 2017.

However, Brooks told the Blade that the SPLC had identified 940 hate groups operating across the country in 2019, which represented a slight decline from the all-time high of 1,020 in 2018. Yet she said, the fact remained that even with a number of significant neo-Nazi groups dropping as the result of leadership turmoil, Brooks cautioned that the groups remaining behind adhere to some form of white supremacist ideology.

Addressing the rise of anti-LGBTQI+ animus, Brooks pointed out that actions by the Trump administration, including recent actions stripping LGBTQ federal workers of equality rights, especially trans workers, has also been accompanied by a number of anti-trans legislation in 12-plus states. Idaho’s recent bill set to become law as well as Alabama’s legislation would effectively criminalize transition by youth, she noted.

“Basically, [Trump’s] relationship with anti-LGBTQI+ organizations and individuals has caused the uptick,” Brooks said. “That 43 percent number includes the murders of trans women of color and attacks on gay couples, which is directly because Trump has elevated the voices of these homophobes masquerading as ‘Christian leaders,’” she added.

“This important new report shines a light on the explosion of anti-LGBTQ groups across our country,” Shannon Minter, legal director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights, wrote in a press statement. “The resurgence of these groups poses a real danger to LGBTQ people and to the progress we have made, which feels increasingly precarious in the face of this administration’s shocking support for anti-LGBTQ hate groups and apparent determination to roll back even the most basic legal protections for LGBTQ people. Now more than ever, we must push back against these hateful narratives and call on elected officials and others to stand up for our common humanity.”

“Stoking the fires of intolerance is unacceptable, especially during this time of crisis” a spokesperson for California Attorney General Becerra told the Los Angeles Blade on Monday. “Every effort will be made to address those actions promptly — hateful behavior cannot be tolerated.”

“Blaming an ethnic group, or the LGBTQI+ community right now for the COVID-19 crisis is immoral,” Brooks said. “The SPLC will continue to monitor the crisis especially with an eye toward Asian Americans, but also immigrant groups as the white nationalists place blame there for the outbreak,” she said.

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LA Public Health emphasizes vaccinations as pandemic guidelines relax

The County will also follow the State on lifting current travel restrictions on June 15 to align with CDC travel recommendations



Photo Credit: County of Los Angeles

LOS ANGELES – On June 15, the state of California will be lifting most capacity limits and distancing restrictions at businesses, and Los Angeles County will align with the State in order to allow businesses to fully re-open. Specific requirements will continue for large capacity events, schools, day cares, day camps, high-risk congregant settings and health care facilities.

The County remains in the least restrictive yellow tier in the State’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy framework.

The County will also follow the State on lifting current travel restrictions on June 15 to align with CDC travel recommendations. Businesses must comply with all Cal/OSHA requirements at worksites past the June 15 reopening.

Tuesday, the State released the final blueprint tier numbers before the Blueprint for a Safer Economy program is retired next week; L.A. County’s adjusted case rate remains at 0.7 new cases per 100,000 people, and the overall test positivity rate remains at 0.4% across the county and in areas with the fewest health affirming resources.

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health will host a Virtual Town Hall on Reopening on Thursday, June 10, at 6:00 p.m. Join the town hall to get the latest updates on the June 15 reopening of Los Angeles County. The town hall will be streamed live on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube @lapublichealth. For more information and to submit a question, visit:

Public Health confirmed 13 new deaths and 186 new cases of COVID-19. Of the 13 new deaths reported Tuesday, three people that passed away were over the age of 80, six people who died were between the ages of 65 and 79 and four people who died were between the ages of 50 and 64.

To date, Public Health identified 1,245,412 positive cases of COVID-19 across all areas of L.A. County and a total of 24,404 deaths. There are 232 people with COVID-19 currently hospitalized and 16% of these people are in the ICU.

“As California reopens and most physical distancing requirements and capacity limits are lifted a week from today, it’s very important that those not vaccinated continue to take precautions,” said Barbara Ferrer, Director of Public Health.

“While we are making great progress with vaccinations in the County with 54% of L.A. County residents 16 and over fully vaccinated and 65 percent having received one dose of the vaccine, there are millions of residents who do not have protection from COVID-19. For those not yet vaccinated, and the over 1.3 million children under 12 years old, wearing a face covering remains important for preventing transmission.”

Free COVID-19 vaccines are available for everyone age 12 and older. You do not need to have health insurance and you will not be asked about your immigration status. Vaccines are offered at hundreds of locations across L.A. County. These include clinics, hospitals, pharmacies, places of worship, and mobile clinics. Many sites are open late and on weekends and no appointment needed at many locations.

To find a vaccination site near you, to make an appointment at vaccination sites, and much more, visit: (English) and (Spanish). If you don’t have internet access, can’t use a computer, or you’re over 65, you can call 1-833-540-0473 for help finding an appointment, connecting to free transportation to and from a vaccination site, or scheduling a home-visit if you are homebound. Vaccinations are always free and open to eligible residents and workers regardless of immigration status.

With 12-17 year olds now eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, providing accurate and important information to teens is critical. Public Health participated in a COVID Vaccine Teen Forum and helped answer some of the most popular questions from Los Angeles County teens themselves, ranging from vaccine safety to how they can talk to their parents about getting the vaccine. The forum can be seen at the following link:

Through Thursday, June 10, everyone 18 and older coming to get their first vaccine or who brings a first-time vaccine recipient with them to their second dose appointment at County-run vaccination sites, L.A. City and St. John’s Well Child and Family Center sites, will have an opportunity to win a pair of season tickets to the 2021-2022 home season of either the LA Football Club soccer team or the LA Dodgers. Official rules and participating site locations can be found on the Los Angeles County Vaccination Sweepstakes page online.

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Newsom; “Vax for the Win” and LA sports teams also enter vax push

The incentives aim to give an extra nudge to those who still need to get vaccinated, especially in hard-to-reach communities



California Governor Gavin Newsom appearing on Jimmy Kimmel Live Thursday (Screenshot via YouTube)

SACRAMENTO – California Governor Gavin Newsom announced a multi-million dollar vaccine incentive program Thursday to motivate more people to get vaccinated leading up to June 15, when the state economy is slated to fully reopen. The $116.5 million vaccine incentive program is the largest in the nation to boost vaccinations as the state prepares to fully reopen the economy June 15.

The incentives aim to give an extra nudge to those who still need to get vaccinated against COVID-19, especially those in hard-to-reach communities, while also thanking everyone who has already been vaccinated.

More than 62.8 percent of Californians aged 12+ are at least partially vaccinated, but an estimated 12 million people who are eligible still have not gotten a vaccine to protect their health and the well-being of their communities.

“Getting every eligible Californian vaccinated is how we bring our state roaring back from this pandemic,” said the Governor. “California has already made incredible progress in the fight against COVID-19, with the lowest case rates in the country, while administering millions more vaccines than any other state. But we aren’t stopping there, we’re doing everything it takes to get Californians vaccinated as we approach June 15 to help us fully reopen safely.”

California residents who have been vaccinated are already entered for cash prizes, and those who haven’t been can get inoculated for the chance to receive a $50 card and win cash prizes. “You don’t have to register to do this as is the case in other states,” Newsom said. “You’re automatically registered.”

Beginning on May 27, the next two million people who begin and complete their COVID-19 vaccination will automatically be eligible to receive a $50 prepaid or grocery card, worth a total of $100 million. It gives them the option to select from a $50 Virtual Prepaid Card (which can be spent online, in-store where major debit cards are accepted, or added to a mobile wallet to be used to shop in stores that accept mobile wallets), or a $50 grocery gift card from Kroger (which includes Ralphs, Food 4 Less and Foods Co.) or Albertsons (which includes Safeway, Albertsons, Vons, Pavilions and Andronico’s Community Markets), while supplies last.

Californians will receive a text message with an electronic prepaid card redemption code sent to their mobile phone or email address 7-10 days after their two-dose series of Pfizer or Moderna, or single dose of Johnson and Johnson. An incentive card will be held for those who start their vaccination at the launch of the program.

Those who do not have a mobile phone or email address can receive a physical card by calling 1-833-993-3873, 7-10 days after receiving their final dose. Those without a permanent address can also call to coordinate delivery.

For more information, visit To schedule an appointment to be vaccinated, visit or call the CA COVID-19 Hotline at 1-833-422-4255.

Los Angeles County Department of Public Health Launches Vaccination Sweepstakes with Los Angeles Kings and Los Angeles Galaxy

In Los Angeles County, starting tomorrow, Friday, May 28, two Los Angeles County residents 18 and older who get their first vaccine or bring a person needing their first vaccine to their second dose appointment can enter to win a pair (2) of 2021-22 season tickets to the Los Angeles Kings or 2022 season tickets to the Los Angeles Galaxy.

The vaccination sweepstakes will run from Friday, May 28 to Thursday, June 3. Two residents will be awarded prizes.

Residents can book appointments or walk in to County, LA City, and St. John’s Well Child and Family clinic vaccination sites to enter.

For more information, including official rules and participating site locations, residents can visit the Los Angeles County Vaccination Sweepstakes page at:

Must be a Los Angeles County resident 18 years or older to enter.

Related: Jimmy Kimmel- ‘GOP Throws Out MyPillow Mike, Trump’s Crazy Memorial Day Message & Governor Gavin Newsom Sneaks In’

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CDC eases indoor mask guidance for fully vaccinated people

L.A. won’t immediately follow CDC’s relaxed mask rules



CDC Headquarters in Atlanta, GA (Blade file photo)

WASHINGTON – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, (CDC) issued new guidance Thursday that eases mask wearing indoors for fully vaccinated people in most instances except for extremely crowded circumstances.

The new guidance still calls for wearing masks in crowded indoor settings like buses, planes, hospitals, prisons and homeless shelters but will help clear the way for reopening workplaces, schools, and other venues — even removing the need for masks or social distancing for those who are fully vaccinated, the Associated Press reported.

“We have all longed for this moment — when we can get back to some sense of normalcy,” said Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the director of the CDC.

President Joe Biden reflecting on the new CDC guidance that fully vaccinated people can go without masks said; “I think it’s a great milestone, a great day.” The President credited the full-court press by officials to get as many Americans vaccinated as possible in a short period of time as a contributing factor. Biden noted that as of Thursday, the U.S. has administered 250 million shots in 114 days.

He added, “The American people have never ever ever let their country down.”
Biden also stressed: “If you are fully vaccinated, you no longer need to wear a mask.” and then he also said if you see someone wearing a mask, “please treat them with kindness and respect.”

Walensky announced the new guidance on Thursday afternoon at a White House briefing, crediting the change to millions of Americans who are getting vaccinated. She added that the CDC changes reflected on the latest science about how well the vaccines are working preventing further spread of the cornavirus.

“Anyone who is fully vaccinated can participate in indoor and outdoor activities -– large or small — without wearing a mask or physically distancing,” Walensky said. “If you are fully vaccinated, you can start doing the things that you had stopped doing because of the pandemic.”

There are some caveats the Associated Press noted pointing out the CDC Director encouraged people who have weak immune systems, such as from organ transplants or cancer treatment, to talk with their doctors before shedding their masks. That’s because of continued uncertainty about whether the vaccines can rev up a weakened immune system as well as they do normal, healthy ones.

Los Angeles County officials said Thursday the latest guidance from federal officials allowing fully vaccinated people to stop wearing masks in most places will not be effective in California immediately. The state and county will review the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommendations in order to “make sensible adjustments to the orders that are currently in place,” L.A. County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said.

The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health’s mask-wearing requirements at businesses – including restaurants and supermarkets – remain in effect, and it could be a week or more before substantive changes to mask-wearing orders are implemented locally.

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