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simmons 042921SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Mike Simmons’ (D-Chicago) plan to require hospitals and state agencies to gather more data in order to better understand how the COVID-19 pandemic has harmed LGBTQIA+ communities in Illinois passed the Senate Thursday.

Simmons, the first openly gay member of the Illinois Senate, said requiring state agencies and hospitals to gather more specific data on age, sex, disability status, sexual orientation and gender identity when dealing with COVID-19 patients is the first step to ensuring visibility and justice for historically marginalized communities as Illinois recovers from the pandemic.

“I’m gratified to see this measure pass, and I am ready to urge the Illinois House to vote to affirm the lives of members of the LGBTQIA+ communities, who disproportionately face challenges that have made this pandemic even deadlier for them,” said Simmons.

The AIDS Foundation of Chicago and Equality Illinois called for the legislation, citing a lack of routine data collection that has prevented an accurate outlook of the coronavirus’ effect on the LGBTQIA+ community in Illinois. Studies have shown members of those communities are more likely to have chronic conditions and other risk factors that can increase vulnerability to COVID-19. As one example of how the pandemic can exacerbate existing challenges, older LGBTQIA+ people already face higher rates of social isolation.

“Any pandemic relief and recovery must be rooted in an understanding of what disparities got us here,” Simmons said. “This vote today is a declaration to LGBTQIA+ communities that we see them and are working for a recovery that includes them.”

Senate Bill 2133 awaits consideration before the Illinois House.