Table of Contents
Intro and Disclaimer
QM would like to help you make sense of information being circulated by: 1. Translating data into digestible language, 2. Dispelling misconceptions and linking to evidence, and 3. Curating relevant data, and articles on a weekly basis. Our RoundUp/Myth Busting projects are intended to help our QM family make sense of information being circulated. Taking control of our health as a queer community includes making institutional knowledge accessible to the public.
Disclaimer: Although this information has been evaluated and determined to be accurate by Queering Medicine (QM), we at QM do not want to give the impression that we are the sole gatekeepers of medical knowledge. As a collective, QM members bring professional and personal qualifications that allow us to research and share credible knowledge. Our goals for this weekly round up and myth busting is to translate data into digestible information, dispel misinformation, and curate relevant data for the Lansing queer community. We encourage the community to question knowledge found outside of reputable sources, however, Queering Medicine will gladly help facilitate this process. If evidence or recommendations change, or any inaccuracies are found, we will correct them and explain the changes. If you have any questions about our methodology and sources, or you would like to point out any inaccuracies, please let us know!
Myth: Wiping hard surfaces with a cleaner like Lysol Disinfecting Wipes will be enough to clean and disinfect against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. (FALSE)
Verdict: False. In order for Lysol Disinfecting Wipes to be truly effective in killing SARS-CoV-2, the surface must stay wet for more than 10 minutes. This is known as the “contact time” or “dwell time” of a disinfectant. Remember to wash your hands with soap and water after cleaning and disinfecting. You may find more disinfectants for use against SARS-CoV-2 as well as their contact times on the United States Environmental Protection Agency website (https://www.epa.gov/pesticide-registration/list-n-disinfectants-use-against-sars-cov-2).
CDC: “Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) - Cleaning and Disinfection for Households” (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/cleaning-disinfection.html)
EPA: “List N: Disinfectants for Use Against SARS-CoV-2” (https://www.epa.gov/pesticide-registration/list-n-disinfectants-use-against-sars-cov-2)
Myth: You can boost your immune system and lower your risk of getting COVID-19 by eating sweet potatoes and taking certain vitamins and supplements, or ingesting silver. (FALSE)
Verdict: False. There’s no evidence to support the claim that eating sweet potatoes, taking certain vitamins and supplements, or ingesting silver will lower your risk of getting COVID-19. Sweet potatoes, however, are delicious and make an excellent dessert [this is the author’s own opinion]!
Myth: You can self-treat for COVID-19 by taking chloroquine phosphate sold at pet stores, an additive used to clean fish tanks. (FALSE)
Verdict: False. There are currently no drugs or other therapeutics approved by the US Food and Drug Administration to prevent or treat COVID-19. The media and President Trump have repeatedly referred to studies that suggest a small benefit from the use of hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine in COVID-19 patients, but it is too early to validate their effectiveness and safety. Hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine is most commonly prescribed to treat malaria, a mosquito-borne infectious disease. Although chloroquine phosphate is also marketed as an additive in fish tank cleaning solutions, those products are not pharmacologically formulated for human consumption and safety. It is dangerous to self-medicate without proper consultation and supervision by a healthcare provider.
John Hopkins: “COVID-19 Myths vs. Realities” (https://www.jhsph.edu/covid-19/articles/coronavirus-facts-vs-myths.html)
World Health Organization: “Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) advice for the public: Myth busters” (https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/advice-for-public/myth-busters)
Drugs.com: “Chloroquine” (https://www.drugs.com/pro/chloroquine.html)
CDC: “Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Therapeutic Options” (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/therapeutic-options.html)
Myth: Wearing a homemade cloth mask protects me from getting COVID-19. (FALSE)
Verdict: False. A cloth mask will not necessarily protect you from getting COVID-19, but it will help prevent you from spreading the virus to others. There is increasing evidence that COVID-19 can be spread by individuals who are not experiencing any symptoms. Carriers of COVID-19 can spread the virus through coughs, sneezes, and respiratory droplets. By wearing a mask and covering your nose and mouth, you protect others around you. Essentially, by wearing a mask in public, we protect each other. To protect yourself from COVID-19, the recommendations remain the same: stay home if you are able, regularly wash your hands with soap and water, and practice social distancing.
Reminder: The CDC recommends wearing a cloth face mask in settings where strict social distancing is not possible (such as pharmacies and grocery stores).
NPR - Coronavirus FAQs: Is A Homemade Mask Effective? And What's The Best Way To Wear One? (https://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2020/04/03/826996154/coronavirus-faqs-is-a-homemade-mask-effective-and-whats-the-best-way-to-wear-one)
CDC- Cloth Face Coverings (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/diy-cloth-face-coverings.html)
Myth: Homemade cloth face masks need only be washed once in a while. (FALSE)
Verdict: False. Homemade cloth face masks should be washed regularly, preferably after each use. To disinfect your homemade face mask, put it in your washing machine with hot water and detergent. If a washing machine or dryer is not available, thoroughly hand-wash with hot water and detergent- the effect may not be the same but it is important we also encourage risk reduction practices. Dry on hot in your dryer.
How to properly wear a mask:
Step 1: Wash your hands before putting it on
Step 2: Make sure to cover your nose and your mouth
Step 3: When are are wearing the mask, avoid touching it
Step 4: Do not take off the mask by the front, take it off by straps. Be sure to not touch your face or eyes.
Step 5: Do not reuse it; wash immediately or put it aside to wash.
Myth: COVID-19 can be transmitted from different surfaces. (TRUE)
Verdict: True. How long the virus that causes COVID-19 survives on different surfaces. The virus is detectable and potentially transmittable for up to:
4 hours on copper
24 hours on cardboard
2-3 (some data goes as far as 5) days on plastic and stainless steel
For this reason, wash hands frequently and avoiding touching your eyes, nose, and mouth
Myth: COVID-19 can be transmitted through the air. (SOMEWHAT TRUE)
Verdict: Somewhat True. COVID-19 is spread mostly from person-to-person, mainly via respiratory droplets. Respiratory droplets do not typically travel more than 6 feet, which is why it is recommended to distance yourself by at least 6 feet. Note: Maintaining a 6-foot distance from others may not be enough when you or others nearby are moving quickly or when there is wind or significant air movement.*
COVID-19 could survive in the air for up to 3 hours, making it possible for it to be contracted from the air. However, the virus generally does not stay in the air since respiratory droplets fall to the ground.
Aerosolized virus may not contain a large enough load to cause infection in low-risk individuals.
Hospitals are recommended to continue to treat COVID-19 as an airborne illness.
*Research is ongoing to determine the impact of air movement, speed, and other factors on safe distances.
Myth: A tiger in New York got sick with COVID-19! That means I can give my pet/animal companion COVID-19, and my pet/animal companion can give COVID-19 to other animals/humans. (MIXED)
Verdict: Mixed. Currently, it is suggested that in some rare cases, humans can transmit the virus to animals, but there is no evidence to suggest the virus can be transmitted from animals to humans. There is evidence to suggest that cats are more likely to get infected, but early evidence suggests that only some cats will get infected but most have not shown signs of illness or been shown to spread the virus to other animals or humans. There have been reports of a few other animals internationally that have tested positive for COVID-19. It has not been confirmed how the pets got the virus, but there was no evidence that the pets could transmit to humans. Currently, the CDC reports that there is no evidence of pet-to-human transmission of the virus in the United States, and the only report of a positive test in an animal was the tiger in a New York zoo. The primary mode of transmission still remains as person-to-person. It is recommended, however, that if you have COVID-19, you should minimize interaction with your pet to reduce any risk of transmitting the virus to your pet or to other animals. Also, it is important to note that pets may be exposed to the virus from respiratory droplets from other people. In this case, the pet may not be infected but may physically carry droplets with the virus that could potentially transmit it to a person. Maintain proper hygiene practices when handling pets if you are concerned about exposure. As more information becomes available, we will update accordingly.
CDC: If You Have Animals —h ttps://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/animals.html
Oregon Veterinary Medical Association — https://www.oregonvma.org/care-health/zoonotic-diseases/coronavirus-faq
American Veterinary Medical Association: SARS-Cov-2 in animals, including pets — https://www.avma.org/resources-tools/animal-health-and-welfare/covid-19/sars-cov-2-animals-including-pets
Myth: Children are immune to being infected by COVID-19. (FALSE)
Verdict: False. Children can contract CoV2 and develop COVID-19. The reality is that anyone can be a carrier. There is no clear data that points to immunity in children. There is, however, developing research that claims that adult immune systems respond differently to the virus than those of children. There is discussion to determine whether this is due to immature immune systems in children or a heightened response to viruses in children. One thing is clear: Comorbidities (other medical conditions or diseases a person may have) put individuals at higher risk. Statistically speaking, adults have higher rates of comorbidities. It is not accurate to say “children cannot get CoV2.” It is critical that we recognize that communities have children with immunocompromised health statuses. We must make every effort to keep children safe, and also reduce the possibility of them being points of transmission to vulnerable adults.
While this is all preliminary, here are some highlights that medical professionals and scientists believe: “it is very possible the data is biased by the fact that, in some countries, testing is only offered to those who show up in hospital with severe symptoms of Covid-19, very few of whom are children.”, and “It is not so much that children are not being as affected, but that something changes as a person gets much older that makes one more likely to be affected" – Andrew Pollard
Claim: COVID-19 disproportionately impacts Black/African American individuals and communities. (TRUE)
Verdict: True. The disproportionate number of Black/African Americans falling ill and dying from COVID-19 is a direct result of medical racism and histories of systemic oppression. This goes back to social determinants of health. Social inequalities like access to healthcare, access to jobs that are able to be done remotely, poverty, environmental racism, and underlying health issues are contributing to the disparate outcomes.
Context is critical and we do harm by highlighting specific groups of people as “vulnerable” without giving context:
As of Tuesday, April 7, it was reported that Black/African American people had 33% of COVID-19 cases in Michigan and 40% of COVID-19-related deaths, even though Black/African American individuals make up 14% of Michigan’s total population. Conditions that put people at risk for doing worse if infected with COVID-19 include high blood pressure, heart conditions, and lung disease — which tend to be higher in Black/African American populations due to a legacy of systemic oppression and social determinants of health.
“The reason for compounded health problems among Black Americans: racism,” to quote Susan Ringer-Cerniglia, Public Information Officer of Washtenaw County. “The numbers can’t tell us the why, and that’s where there is unfortunately room for speculation and discrimination or prejudice.”
Being Risk Averse
In these troubling times, there’s no place for us to judge or criticize others for being risk-aversive. Much like sexuality and ableness, underlying medical conditions are not always immediately obvious. Older adults and people of any age who have serious underlying medical conditions might be at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19. We encourage everyone to be a little more understanding and respectful of one’s wishes to practice safer behaviors.
CDC: “Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) - At Risk for Severe Illness (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/need-extra-precautions/groups-at-higher-risk.html)
SARS-CoV-2 vs Covid-19: Why do the virus and the disease have different names?
The Disease: Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)
The Virus: Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2)
Viruses, and the diseases they cause, often have different names. For example, HIV is the virus that causes AIDS. People often know the name of a disease, but not the name of the virus that causes it. There are different processes, and purposes, for naming viruses and diseases. Viruses are named based on their genetic structure to facilitate the development of diagnostic tests, vaccines and medicines. Virologists and the wider scientific community do this work, so viruses are named by the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses (ICTV). Diseases are named to enable discussion on disease prevention, spread, transmissibility, severity and treatment. Human disease preparedness and response is the role of the World Health Organization (WHO), so diseases are officially named by WHO in the International Classification of Diseases (ICD).
Don’t succumb to misinformation! Here are a few helpful tips on checking credibility in a pandemic.
Does the URL match the news source? There are websites that will use this pandemic as an opportunity to deceive readers and spread misinformation.
Does the information come from a familiar or respected news outlet?
Does the article link back to credible sources such as research papers, experts, or governmental entities?
Is an author directly named in the byline? If the article is anonymous, it may not be as reliable. There will be no way of finding out if the author is an expert in the field about which they are writing.
Does the title match the rest of the article? It is suspicious when an article’s content does not match its advertised title.
Is the article still considered current? Our understanding of COVID-19 changes rapidly so it’s important to stay up-to-date with these matters.
Is the headline sensationalized (AKA “clickbait”)? Sensationalized articles tend to oversimplify or misrepresent findings.
Graphic from Osmosis.org
QM Myth-busters (in no particular order):
Mauricio Franco (he/him/his), M.S. in Global Medicine, Third-year medical student
Andrew-Huy Dang (he/him/his), Third-year medical student, B.S. in Microbiology
Wyatt Shoemaker (he/him/his), Third-year medical student
Antonio Flores (he/him/his), Second-year medical student, B.S. in Public Health Sciences
Daniel Pfau (they/them/theirs), PhD in Neuroscience, M.S. in Biological Sciences, Homeschool teacher
Francis Yang (he/him/his), M.S. in Global Medicine, First-year medical student.
Kryssia Campos (she/her/hers), First-year medical student
Grey L. Pierce (they/them); M.A. in Cognitive Psychology; Assistant Director, Michigan State University (MSU) Usability/Accessibility Research and Consulting; Project Manager, State of the State Survey, MSU Institute for Public Policy and Social Research