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Gay circuit party impresario hosts NYE super-spreader in Mexico

Jeffrey Sanker’s event has drawn massive mostly negative reaction and condemnation

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Jeffrey Sanker via Facebook

NUEVO VALLARTA – Ending one of the deadliest months in the nearly year long coronavirus pandemic, as well as the year 2020 itself, gay circuit party impresario Jeffrey Sanker’s Palm Springs based White Party Entertainment is throwing a New Years Eve weekend bash- in Mexico, despite recommended Mexican public health guidelines and COVID-19 mandates.

The event has drawn massive mostly negative reaction and condemnation in social media posts, and online as well prompting authorities in Puerto Vallarta in the Mexican state of Jalisco, where the White Party was originally advertised as being held, to strongly remind partygoers and organisers that the city and the surrounding region were observing COVID-19 restrictions that would prohibit any type of mass gathering.

“Per the current state government mandate related to COVID-19, all private and public events of more than 8 people are strictly forbidden. All public festivities in the state of Jalisco have been cancelled, including the previously promoted White Party Weekend at Mantamar Beach Club & Sushi,” an official wrote on behalf of the Puerto Vallarta Tourism Board in an emailed statement to the Blade.

“Local authorities are aware of all previously planned events and are prepared to respond in a timely manner should any activity take place that is in opposition to local mandates.”

The Vallarta Daily News reported last week on Christmas Day that the Puerto Vallarta Regional Hospital had reached 100% total bed capacity, overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients, as the state of Jalisco’s health officials reported a 65% positivity rate in coronavirus testing.

Mexico has experienced more than 126,000 deaths from COVID-19 and is also currently experiencing a new rapid surge.  Nearly 13,000 new cases were reported Wednesday with 990 deaths. The state of Jalisco which has a population of 8 million reported 456 new cases and 52 additional deaths.

Seemingly undeterred, Sanker’s company has shifted the event to the town of Nuevo Vallarta in the neighboring state of Nayarit after Jalisco authorities forbade the event.

As of Wednesday the state of Nayarit is under the orange status of Mexico’s “Traffic Light” monitoring system. All businesses, and organizations continue to operate at 50% capacity with social distancing, which includes the hotel industry, beaches and tours. The state of Nayarit which has a population of 1.8 million, on Wednesday reported 19 new cases and 7 new deaths.

The Blade spoke with authorities in Nayarit Wednesday evening who indicated that while technically not running afoul of the health orders, they were aware of the event and would be “closely monitoring” it.

The New Years Eve weekend long bash, which was originally advertised on Sanker’s company’s Eventbrite listing of events, as well as its Instagram, Facebook and Jefferysanker.com pages, asked that attendees not to share photos or video of the event on social media.

The Blade spoke with a staff member of Evento Palmerias in Nuevo Vallarta, which is located approximately 45 minutes from the original venue at the Mantamar Beach Club, Bar & Sushi. The source, who spoke on the condition of remaining anonymous, confirmed that the event will proceed in that location.

“The event is sold out and we will be reminding everyone that it’s polite to wear a mask and stay 6 feet away during the party.  If they have a temperature we intend to suggest they go home, but we can not force them to stay at home. Nayarit allows gatherings and there are no restrictions here,” the staffer told the Blade.

One reveler, also spoke to the Blade on the condition of anonymity claimed that the venue did not change and had always been privately advertised as Nuevo Vallarta, however there are numerous parties throughout the weekend and many others are planned. 

“The best party with the hottest sex will be held at an estate in Puerto Vallarta and I’m going.  I don’t have Covid. Like, I can’t infect someone with something I don’t have,” he said. “If I get it I’ll let you know, but who cares. I’m 23 years old and a girls gotta live,” he said.

Since many of those traveling to the event are from California, a spokesperson for the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health told the Blade that especially with the looming threat of a Christmas holiday-fueled surge, public health officials had amended health orders now requiring that travelers returning to the Southland must quarantine.

“Because of the likelihood of exposure to COVID-19 while traveling outside of L.A County, for everyone that traveled or are planning to travel back into L.A. County, you must quarantine for 10 days. If you start to experience any symptoms or have a positive test, isolate for 10 days and until you are fever-free for 24 hours.”

The Blade scanned the “Nearby Friends” app feature on Facebook and counted more than two dozen West Hollywood and Los Angeles area residents whose locations revealed they are currently in Puerto Vallarta.

In a Wednesday evening phone call, law enforcement officials in the state of Jalisco told the Blade that there will be random checkpoints set up targeting rideshare and private vehicles especially to ensure that COVID-19 restrictions are being kept for any vehicle returning from the state of Riviera Nayarit.

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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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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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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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