CHICAGO — A new law sponsored by State Senator Mike Simmons (D-Chicago) requires hospitals and state agencies to gather more data in order to better understand how the COVID-19 pandemic has harmed LGBTQIA communities, older adults, and people with disabilities in Illinois.
"I see this as the first step to ensuring visibility and justice for historically wronged communities, which is especially important as Illinois recovers from a pandemic that has only aggravated these injustices," Simmons said. "This is a response to valid concerns about how the COVID-19 pandemic in particular is harming communities that already were very poorly served by the health care system."
One of the first initiatives brought forth by Simmons, who is the first openly gay member of the Illinois Senate, the law requires state agencies and hospitals to gather more specific data on age, sex, disability status, sexual orientation and gender identity when dealing with patients.
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.
"I want to thank Gov. Pritzker for signing this into law, and once again thank the advocates who pushed for this legislation," Simmons said.
Senate Bill 2133 was signed into law Friday, and it is effective immediately.