Covid-19 Information


 In: Announcements

SAGE is committed to keeping our community and staff safe. Please read for more info on COVID-19 and SAGE’s response currently all SAGE national events are postponed and our NYC senior centers are closed. SAGE also joined 100+ LGBT organizations in an open letter highlighting the disease’s increase risk to LGBT people. Read the letter here>>

For up-to-date info, visit the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) website. For up-to-date info as it pertains to NYC, please visit the NYC Department of Health’s info page on the virus or text COVID to 692-692 to get real-time updates.

LGBT elders are already less likely than their heterosexual and cisgender peers to reach out to health and aging providers, like senior centers, meal programs, and other programs designed to ensure their health and wellness, because they fear discrimination and harassment. The devastating impact of COVID-19 on older people – the current mortality rate is at 15% for this population – makes this a huge issue for the entire LGBT community. In addition, it’s important for trans people to be prepared for obstacles if an outbreak happens in their communities. The National Center for Transgender Equality’s fact sheet is an excellent resource for trans people and the people who care for them. 

Below are some additional resources that are being updated as new information and services become available. If you know of a useful resource, please let us know by sending us an email at info@sageusa.org.

Background

Countries around the world are experiencing expanding outbreaks of respiratory illness (COVID-19) caused by a novel coronavirus (SARS CoV-2). The virus is spreading from person-to-person, and cases are confirmed in the United States and a number of other countries. As the Administration on Community Living (ACL) notes, as with many illnesses, older people and people with disabilities face higher risks of contracting the disease and/or experiencing complications, particularly if they also have chronic medical conditions. Consequently, the CDC now declares that older people and people who have severe chronic medical conditions are populations at higher risk for COVID-19, and they should “stay at home as much as possible.” Please learn more by visiting the CDC’s special section on COVID-19 and people at higher risk or the ACL page What do Older Adults and People with Disabilities Need to Know?

WHAT TO DO IF YOU ARE AT HIGHER RISK:

  • Stay at home as much as possible.
  • Make sure you have access to several weeks of medications and supplies in case you need to stay home for prolonged periods of time.
  • When you go out in public, keep away from others who are sick, limit close contact and wash your hands often.
  • Avoid crowds.
  • Stay up to date on CDC Travel Health Notices.

The CDC also recommends that everyone, regardless of age or disability, take the same precautions to avoid illness (see below). If you’re interested in signing up for specific updates as it relates to older people and people living with disabilities, please sign up for ACL email updates here.

SAGE would like to stress that the risk of novel coronavirus is not at all connected with race, ethnicity or nationality. Stigma does nothing to fight the illness. We encourage folks not to make determinations of risk based on race or country of origin. Sharing accurate information during a time of heightened concern is one of the best things we can do to keep rumors and misinformation from spreading. Both the CDC website and the NYC Department of Health website are excellent sources of information and we encourage people to click through for detailed information. Also, the World Health Organization (WHO) has a detailed webpage on debunking myths around the virus.

If you are experiencing stress or feel anxious, the national SAGE Hotline is available 24/7 at 1-877-360-LGBT.

What is a coronavirus?

Visit the WHO page for detailed information. Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that usually cause mild respiratory illnesses such as the common cold. Some coronaviruses have caused more severe illness, such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS). SARS-CoV-2 is a new coronavirus that was not identified in humans before December 2019.

What are common symptoms of COVID-19 illness?

Patients with COVID-19 have had mild to severe respiratory illness with symptoms of fever, cough, and shortness of breath.  It takes 2 to 14 days after a person gets the virus in their body to become ill. Novel coronavirus is new, and we are learning more each day about symptoms it causes and how long it takes for people to become sick.

How does the virus spread?

Most often, it is spread from person-to-person via respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes, similar to how flu and other respiratory pathogens spread. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs. Often, with most respiratory viruses, people are thought to be most contagious when they are most symptomatic (the sickest) but there is some indication of spread by individuals who are not exhibiting typical symptoms.

It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.

Who should seek medical evaluation for COVID-19?

People who are:

  • Ill with a fever, cough, or difficulty breathing AND have traveled from an affected area in the last 14 days.
  • Ill with fever, cough, or difficulty breathing AND have been identified by Public Health as a recent close contact of a confirmed COVID-19 case or had recent close contact with someone who is being evaluated for COVID-19 infection.

Here’s what you can do in your workplace in order to take precautions:

  • Encourage folks to stay home if they are sick and to call their primary care physician.
  • Place posters that encourage staying home when sick, cough and sneeze etiquette, and hand hygiene at the entrance to your workplace and in other areas where they are likely to be seen.
  • Provide tissues, soap and water and alcohol-based hand rubs in workplace. Ensure that adequate supplies are maintained.
  • Ask everyone to clean their hands often with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60-95% alcohol, or wash their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds (sing “Happy Birthday” twice as a reminder).
  • Advise everyone to avoid touching their eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Routinely clean all frequently touched surfaces in your workplace such as computers, countertops, and doorknobs.
  • Provide disposable wipes so that commonly used surfaces (for example, doorknobs, keyboards, remote controls, desks) can be wiped down before each use.

Should people delay or suspend travel to affected areas?

We recommend folks checking the CDC’s Traveler’s Health Notices for the latest guidance and recommendations for each country to which people may travel. This can be found on the CDC website.

Older individuals and especially those with underlying health conditions can become very ill if they get sick with this virus. They should strongly consider delaying traveling at this time and avoid anyone who is ill with respiratory illness.

If people do become ill during travel it may be difficult to obtain medical care. They should try to seek an overseas medical assistance company to assist them with finding an appropriate healthcare provider in that country. A U.S. consular officer can help locate healthcare services. However, U.S. embassies, consulates, and military facilities do not have the legal authority, capability, and resources to evacuate or give medicines, vaccines, or medical care to private U.S. citizens and residents overseas.

Encourage those who travel to receive all recommended vaccinations, including influenza. It’s not too late to vaccinate.

George Stewart as a young servicemember
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