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 Round Up/ Mythbusting 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!

Michigan COVID-19 Restrictions Returning

In light of climbing COVID-19 cases throughout the state of Michigan (resulting from people ignoring requirements to wear masks, maintain appropriate physical distance, and not congregate in large groups), Governor Whitmer reimposed a ban on indoor gatherings of more than 10 people and closed indoor bars. The restrictions were already in place in some parts of the state, including most of the Lower Peninsula, but are now effective statewide. If people continue to be lax about COVID-19, restrictions will tighten further, and we could return to a full lockdown.

Per the updated Emergency Order:

More information:

Masks: Why We Need to Wear Them

The three Ws to stop COVID-19 are: Wear a mask, wash your hands, and watch your distance. Many states require people to wear masks whenever they leave their homes. But do they work and which ones are better?

When we breathe, cough, and speak, we expel droplets that carry the virus that causes COVID-19. Several studies have supported the efficacy of masks. A study found that cloth masks could filter 60% of particles generated by regular speech, and surgical masks filtered up to 75%. Another study compared the efficacy of surgical masks in blocking droplets ejected by a wearer diagnosed with seasonal coronavirus, influenza, or rhinovirus. The results showed that masks were effective at blocking coronavirus droplets of any size. There have been multiple events that point to the importance of wearing a mask. One such was the case of a man who flew from China to Toronto wearing a mask. Despite testing positive for COVID-19, all 25 people closest to him, including flight attendants, tested negative for the virus. 

In terms of which masks are best, most research points out that surgical masks are more effective than cloth masks at filtering particles. However, they agree that all types of masks, regardless of the material, can decrease viral exposure and infection risk on a population level.

More information: 

Federal Agents Heading to Detroit

The Trump administration announced on July 29nd that it is expanding Operation Legend to include Detroit, Cleveland, and Milwaukee. Operation Legend sends federal agents to assist local law enforcement in dealing with violent crime, but many, including city and state leaders, worry that the agents will instead target protesters, as they have in Portland. Federal officials stress that Operation Legend and the actions in Portland are separate, but public trust in those statements is low. The Operation started in Kansas City on July 8 and expanded to include Chicago and Albuquerque on July 22.

More information:

Misleading Virus Video Promoted by Trump

On July 27, 2020, a video showing what was called “America’s Frontline Doctors Summit” was widely circulated on the Internet. By the time many places had taken it down, it had been viewed by many. The video showed several doctors in white coats as they spoke on a variety of topics, such as reopening the economy, speaking against wearing masks, and using hydroxychloroquine to treat and prevent COVID-19. None of the doctors are infectious disease experts.

“America’s Frontline Doctors” (AFD) is a recently created organization backed by the Tea Party Patriots (TPPatriots), a right-wing conservative political organization. The claims made by the fringe group have been thoroughly debunked by experts, and some of the people who spoke at the event espouse a range of other unscientific views, most notably Dr. Stella Immanuel, who has been widely criticized since the event.

At this point, the video has been taken down and has been widely reported on, but wanted to re-emphasize a few points, particularly about the danger of spreading such information and the potential harm. 

There are ongoing trials regarding hydroxychloroquine in the prevention of COVID-19, however there is still no data or evidence to support that hydroxychloroquine, or medication regimens involving hydroxychloroquine, is effective in treating or preventing COVID-19 infection. By continuing to push medications that have not been shown to be effective, there is potential for harm without any proven benefit (for example, people engaging in activities that put themselves and others at higher risk, because they mistakenly believe that treatment is available). 

Of particular note in the video were statements such as “We have a cure” and “we don’t need masks,” stated by Dr. Stella Immanuel, both of which are untrue. These false statements, in addition to the imagery of doctors in white coats, reinforces the harmful practices that have made this pandemic worse, such as refusing to wear masks. 

Regardless of the anecdotal experiences and personal opinions shared in this video, the science still stands: wearing masks work and hydroxychloroquine does not show any effect in preventing or treating COVID-19. We will continue to update on these topics as more information is available and data is collected.


Vaccine Trials Underway

The University of Oxford and AstraZeneca have tested a COVID-19 vaccine with 1,077 individuals. The vaccination prompted an immune response and has seen no serious side effects. While this doesn’t tell us yet if the vaccine protects against COVID-19, we do know that it appears to be safe to use in the short-term (more time is needed to determine whether there are long-term side effects) and activates the immune system. There are trials in Brazil and South Africa that are following individuals who have been vaccinated to see if they contract COVID-19. The vaccination is a weakened form of a cold virus that usually infect chimpanzees - it is weakened to not sicken humans (COVID-19 and the common cold are both types of coronaviruses - while each is unique, they share many similarities). China has also recently released results from a similar study with a weakened cold virus that prompted an immune response. Ongoing trials will answer the question if the vaccinations are protective against COVID-19.

More information: 

Vaccine Policy Development

The National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine & the National Academy of Medicine have launched a study to provide policymakers with a framework to equitably distribute COVID-19 vaccines. The committee developing the framework is made up of experts in global and domestic public health, vaccinology, epidemiology, health equity and disparities, health economics, obstetrics and pediatrics, ethics, legal and regulatory issues, occupational health, operations and systems research, and community engagement and risk communication. While a considerable amount  of work and money has been poured into COVID-19 vaccine research and development, there will still be a limited amount available for distribution when it is ready (there are limits to how quickly millions or billions of vaccine doses can be produced and distributed). To ensure equity, the study will set criteria for how to prioritize vaccine distribution while considering populations with greater health disparities, individuals at a higher risk of contracting COVID-19 because of their health status, occupation, or living conditions, and communities with a greater spread of the virus. In addition, strategies will be developed to address vaccine hesitancy within the United States (there are considerable amounts of misinformation and conspiracy theories about vaccines that make people afraid of them). The committee expects to have a draft available for public review and to hold public workshops for comments and feedback later this summer with the final report available in early fall. 

More information:

QM Public Health Crisis Round-Up Team (in no particular order):