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New report says Californians making under $40K impacted worse by pandemic

Workforce inequalities occur across race, gender, and vulnerable populations



Photo Credit: County of Los Angeles

SACRAMENTO – A new report released Tuesday found that California residents making less than $40,000 a year, especially in minority communities and notably women in low-income households, suffered the worst job losses through layoffs or furloughs as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

The California’s Future of Work Commission  spent 18 months meeting and listening to workers, employers, researchers, and other residents to understand the current state and future of work and workers in California.

In its report, the Commission noted that the scope of its work surpassed common topics of technological change and automation and included shifts in growing sectors and job types, the evolving nature of work arrangements, the increasing costs of many basic necessities such as health and housing, national and global trends, demographic and regional trends, and the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic as well as anticipated future shocks such as public health crises and climate change.

A year ago this month, Governor Gavin Newsom ordered the nation’s first statewide stay-at-home order. Following that order spanning the next 10 months, nearly all of the state’s 58 counties went through multiple business closures and reopening’s.

According to the Commission’s report only 22% of California workers are consistently able to work remotely, making most workers unable to spend most time at home as officials urged them to do.

“That puts everybody else in this really weird position of either needing to go on unemployment, which is only going to be 60% to 70% of your income, or putting yourself in the line of fire,” Tia Koonse, legal and policy research manager at the UCLA Labor Center told the Associated Press.

For example, the report notes that approximately 55% of Latino workers serve in essential jobs — making them most vulnerable to coronavirus exposure — compared to 48% of Black workers and 35% of white workers.

More so the report detailed that workforce inequalities occur across race, gender, and vulnerable populations. These vulnerable populations face wage gaps, employment gaps, exclusion from the workforce, and disproportionate employment in low-quality jobs.

These workers face inequalities across race, gender, age, education level, sexual orientation, disability status, military service history, housing status,
citizenship status, and criminal record. Working people of color are over three times more likely than white workers to live in poverty.

This past February the University of California Los Angeles School Of Law’s Williams Institute reported from data collected from the fall 2020 COVID-19 surge that LGBTQ Californians were more likely than non-LGBTQ residents to be laid off (12% vs 8%) or furloughed from their jobs (14% vs 10%), report problems affording basic household goods (24% vs 17%), and report having problems paying their rent or mortgage (20% vs 12%).

Williams also reported that both LGBTQ and non-LGBTQ people of color were twice as likely to have been laid off or temporality furloughed from work when compared to non-LGBT white adults. 

Additionally, LGBTQ people of color were over twice as likely to report having less ability to pay for household goods in the two weeks before the survey (29% vs 14%) and over three times as likely to report being unable to pay their rent or mortgage (26% v. 9%) than non-LGBTQ white adults.

Photo Credit: County of Los Angeles

The report found that low-income women were bearing the brunt of job losses during the pandemic. From August to October of 2020, California’s unemployment rate for women in households making less than $30,000 rose to 29% from January through March. Meanwhile, women in households making more than $150,000 annually saw their employment rate rise by 6%, the report found.

Koonse, from the UCLA Labor Center, also tells the Associated Press that women dominate many low-wage jobs such as domestic and custodial work. Others many have needed to exit the workforce to take care of children when schools shut down.

Beyond the pandemic, the 55-page report also urges the state to address California’s inequality and create better conditions for workers by 2030 saying that the state needs to build a greater system to have workers acquire needed skills to prepare for jobs of the future.

Workers should be empowered with the skills to meet future needs in the labor market, including greater demand for critical thinking, collaboration, and creativity, in sectors from care work to climate mitigation to digital technology and beyond.

The full report is available here: LINK

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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



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”



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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COVID-19 Cases increase by nearly 10 times in one month

While hospitalizations continue to climb, Public Health data shows that many positive cases are admitted for reasons other than COVID



Graphic courtesy of UCLA/Centers for Disease Control & Prevention

LOS ANGELES – A total of 31,576 new COVID-19 cases were documented on Monday — up ten times the number of cases reported on Dec. 17, 2021, when there were 3,360 new cases recorded the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health reported Monday.

There are  4,564 people with COVID-19 currently hospitalized, nearly 6 times the number from one month ago when 772 people were hospitalized. The daily positivity rate is 16.5%, more than 8 times the 2% daily positivity rate on December 17th.

Just one week ago, the county surpassed 2 million total COVID-19 cases, with the figure reaching 2,289,045 cases as of Monday.

“On this national holiday where we celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, we remember his deep commitment to health equity.  As Reverend King memorably said, ‘Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health is the most shocking and the most inhuman because it often results in physical death,’ ” said Dr. Barbara Ferrer, Director of Public Health.

“Tragically, we have seen this play out in real life and very clearly over the past two years with the disparate impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on people of color. From the onset of the pandemic, communities of color have experienced the greatest devastation from COVID-19 in Los Angeles County and throughout the nation,” she added.

“The good news is that while hospitalizations continue to climb, Public Health data shows that many positive cases are admitted for reasons other than COVID but, are identified with COVID when tested for COVID upon hospital admission,” the health department said in a statement released last week.

As of Friday, more than 80% of all adult ICU beds in the county were occupied.

There are also 27 new deaths due to COVID-19 in Los Angeles County and 31,576 new positive cases.

The public health department also noted that while the number of children hospitalized with the virus remains low, the number of them admitted to L.A. County hospitals “significantly increased” over the past month, with the largest increase among children younger than 5 years old.

The increase mirrors trends seen nationwide for the age group — the only one not yet eligible for the vaccine.

The county also saw its highest coronavirus death rate in nearly 10 months over this past week, with an average of 40 COVID-19 deaths a day.

“From the onset of the pandemic, communities of color have experienced the greatest devastation from COVID-19 in Los Angeles County and throughout the nation. As we continue to implement strategies – enforcing worker protections through our Health Officer Orders, providing resources needed by many to survive the impact of the pandemic, funding community-based organizations in hard hit areas to serve as trusted public health messengers, and increasing vaccination access in under-sourced neighborhoods – we also need to come together to address the impact that racism, historical disinvestment, and social marginalization have on COVID-19 outcomes,” Ferrer said.

“While these conditions predate the pandemic, without deliberate collective actions to address the root causes of health inequities, we are unlikely to close the gaps we have documented for 2 long years,” she added.

California has recorded more than 7 million coronavirus cases after its fastest accumulation of reported infections in the history of the pandemic, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The unprecedented count, recorded in California’s databases late Monday, comes one week after the state tallied its 6 millionth coronavirus case.

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