Why were sexual and gender minority people more affected by layoffs, and saw their physical and mental health impacted more severely than Canadians overall as COVID-19 spread this year? Online surveys have suggested contributing factors to these startling truths. Nathan Lachowsky, associate professor at the University of Victoria’s School of Public Health and Social Policy and research director at the Vancouver-based non-profit Community-Based Research Centre, is leading a nationwide project to gather much more data on the topic. Lachowsky — an epidemiologist by training who has focused on sexually transmitted and blood-borne infections, and health equity issues — is hoping the results will help identify what kind of additional support is necessary for lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer (LGBTQ) and other sexual and gender minorities during the pandemic. “When we talk about the COVID epidemic, obviously our primary concern has been around the actual infection, and the illness, the loss of life associated with that — that would be your primary impacts,” said Lachowsky in an interview.