Hoylman, Testone: Mend the Health Care Safety Net for the LGBTQ
Last Wednesday, State Senator Brad Hoylman (D-Chelsea, Midtown) and NYC LGBT Center Executive Director Glennda Testone wrote an op-ed for the Gotham Gazette about the unique healthcare challenges facing LGBTQ New Yorkers.
They wrote that, while the pandemic has devastated us all, it has been particularly hard on the LGBTQ community. This is because LGBTQ New Yorkers are disproportionately likely to be immunocompromised, and to suffer from heart disease, cancer and substance abuse disorders. They also frequently experience discrimination from healthcare workers, who often refuse to treat them because of their sexuality or gender identity.
“Since the HIV epidemic, no other event has had such a profound, overarching impact upon our communities,” they wrote. “Not only are individuals particularly vulnerable to illness and isolation; they are also increasingly less able to access affordable, affirming health care. Where are we supposed to turn in the midst of a pandemic if our safety net can’t catch us?”
U.S. Rep. Adriano Espaillat (D-Manhattan, Bronx) released the following statement yesterday, after testing positive for COVID-19:
“I am following guidance from my physician and quarantining at home after having tested positive for Covid 19. I’ve been administered both shots of the COVID-19 vaccine and have continued to be tested regularly, wear my mask and follow the recommendation guidelines. I will continue my duties representing New York’s 13th congressional district remotely until I have received clearance from my doctor.
“I encourage all residents to follow public health guidelines to prevent the spread of the virus.”
State Senate Passes Jackson’s Clean Air and Water Amendment
This week, the State Senate passed an amendment guaranteeing New Yorkers the right to clean air and water.
The Clean Air and Water Constitutional Amendment, which State Senator Robert Jackson (D-Washington Heights, Inwood) sponsored, will add the following language to Article 1 of the New York State Constitution; “Each person shall have a right to clean air and water, and a healthful environment.”
“Today, by starting the process to add 15 words to the Constitution of our state, we have helped shape the future of New York,” said Jackson. “This language will finally put in place safeguards that require the government to consider the environment and our relationship to the Earth in decision making. If the government fails in that responsibility, New Yorkers will finally have the right to take legal action for a clean environment because it will be in the State Constitution.”
Powers Writes Op-EdAbout Health Concerns for Rikers Island Inmates
Last Tuesday, Councilmember Keith Powers (D-Upper East Side, Carnegie Hill) co-wrote an op-ed with Rev. Kevin RanHook for amNY about how the COVID-19 crisis has affected the incarcerated – particularly those stationed at Rikers Island.
As the article points out, jails and prisons have been hot spots for COVID-19. At the pandemic’s peak, Rikers Island had an infection rate roughly four times greater than the citywide average. What’s worse, they write, is the fact that the nightmare doesn’t end for inmates who are released from jail.
“Not only do those cycling in and out of jail face an extraordinary high-risk of contracting the virus as they sit in inhumane facilities where social distancing is impossible and access to health basics are scarce, the pathway to stability and success upon release has become even more daunting,” they wrote. “We cannot let lack of testing stop our fellow New Yorkers from reuniting with friends and family or finding stable housing due to the fear of the disease, or worse, increased infection rates. Just one day without a place to stay can spell disaster and lead to homelessness.”