by Kevin Naff
(Kevin Naff is editor of the Washington Blade. This editorial originally appeared in the newspaper’s March 26, 2020, issue and is reprinted here with permission.)
Despite the economic chaos and uncertainty unleashed by the coronavirus pandemic, the Blade staff continues to work hard bringing our readers the local, national, and international news needed to navigate this crisis.
On March 24, the White House pool report for the world’s press was written by the Blade’s Chris Johnson, who spent the day shadowing President Trump, even as Trump continues his reckless attacks on journalists.
Our own Lou Chibbaro Jr. is working hard to cover the virus’ impact on D.C., just as he covered the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s. And Michael K. Lavers is interviewing LGBTQ activists around the world, including in hard-hit Spain, to assess the unique impacts on our community overseas.
Sure, we’re all in this together, but the LGBTQ community suffers unique challenges. Our elders are more likely to live alone and suffer from isolation and depression; our youth are more likely to be homeless and thus susceptible to the disease; we are disproportionately entrepreneurial, putting many of our businesses in jeopardy; the HIV-positive among us are more susceptible to infection; LGBTQ and HIV-positive migrants face considerable risk. We’re working to cover all of these stories and more impacting the LGBTQ community.
Small businesses, including the Blade, are particularly vulnerable right now, as the government ponders massive bailouts for undeserving cruise lines and airlines, while tossing crumbs at small businesses, the backbone of the United States economy. If you are in a position to donate to support our work, please visit bladefoundation.org.
Indeed, as Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garrcetti told the Los Angeles Blade’s Karen Ocamb, “This community has been through tougher days than this and the most important thing is to not only be resilient but to be calm. …
The overwhelming majority of people are going to not only make it through this but we will come back, but we can be leaders.”
He’s right. When the world turned its back during the height of the AIDS crisis, it was LGBTQ activists who led the way, fought for new drugs, held the government accountable, and shamed religious and political leaders into action.
We must take up that role again today, telling the truth about President Trump’s irresponsible and dangerous approach to the coronavirus. He uses the power of the bully pulpit to spout misinformation that proved fatal to one man who ingested chloroquine based on Trump’s ill-informed recommendation. Worse, Trump ignored warnings in his security briefings about COVID-19 for weeks in January and February, costing us precious time that has led to the deaths of more than 22,000 Americans. The final toll will be far higher and likely more than the death toll of our deadliest war, the Civil War, which claimed roughly 750,000 American lives.
He talks about being a “war-time president,” yet refuses to invoke the Defense Production Act to procure desperately needed personal protective equipment for hospital staff and first responders. His failure to supply adequate tests for the virus is an inexcusable dereliction of duty. We are seeing the full scope of what it means to elect a realty TV show host with no government experience to run the country. We can only hope the latest polls showing Joe Biden with a landslide-scale lead hold up.
In the meantime, stay safe and off the streets and practice social distancing. The Blade will publish in print as long as is feasible as well as online.
Most importantly, don’t panic. We’ve survived a pandemic before and will persevere again.