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 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!
Ongoing Challenges and Need for Community
We want to acknowledge that these times continue to bring hardship to many of us. The COVID-19 pandemic has amplified inequities across all aspects of our society. It has highlighted the many different ways a person or family can be impacted by many forms of oppression at once. Multiple shootings of Black people by the police in the past week have added an overwhelming weight that is not easy to describe. Our Black communities continue to be targeted, attacked, and murdered. Communities of color continue to be disproportionately impacted by the pandemic. Families are facing the struggle of finding balance between online education, work schedules, and helping their young students transition into a new learning environment. Resources are not the same across our school districts, nor are they evenly distributed, and this has left many families in unnecessarily difficult situations. It should go without saying, but we want to remind folks that these times are new to all of us and uncharted in many ways (while police brutality, inequality, and White supremacy are not new, the context of COVID-19 and the current political situation is). We must do our best to be forgiving of ourselves and others when we are not functioning at 100%. We encourage folks to reach out to family, friends, and community for support.
Police Shooting of Jacob Blake
On Sunday, August 23rd in Kenosha, Wisconsin, police officers shot Jacob Blake seven times at close-range in the back. A bystander video shows Jacob Blake, who is Black, walking towards his car and reaching in when police officer Rusten Sheskey grabbed the back of his shirt and fired 7 shots into his back with another officer nearby with his weapon raised. The details of what led up to the shooting are conflicting. The family’s attorney said Jacob Blake was trying to de-escalate a situation between two other people when officers arrived. The police are claiming that Jacob Blake was not supposed to be at another person’s residence, took the person’s keys, and refused to give them back. Officers say Jacob Blake resisted arrest and had a knife on him, and after they placed him in a headlock and tased him he was still uncooperative, which led to them drawing their weapons. Officers transported Jacob Blake to a nearby hospital. It was released that he was handcuffed to the bed with officers standing guard. The police claim this was due to other felony warrants out for his arrest and is standard practice. Bail was posted and the warrants vacated so he is no longer handcuffed to the bed. Jacob Blake is currently paralyzed from the waist down and it is unknown if he will walk again. In his car at the time of the incident were his three children, ranging from 3 to 8 years old.
Jacob Blake’s family and the ACLU are demanding justice for Jacob, and dispute the police account. The Wisconsin Department of Justice is conducting an investigation and recently released their first step of results, which has gaping holes in the timeline. Sheskey and another officer involved were placed on administrative leave.
Violence Amid Protests Against Police Brutality in Kenosha
After video and news of the shooting were released, protests against police brutality erupted in Kenosha and other U.S. cities. During the protests in Kenosha on Monday night (8/24), 17-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse shot and killed two protestors and injured one other with an AR-15 rifle. Rittenhouse reportedly drove from Illinois to Wisconsin to protect the buildings of Kenosha from protestors. His social media shows that he is a vocal Trump and Blue Lives Matter supporter. Rittenhouse was not arrested that night, even though he walked past officers; he was instead offered water by the police. The police chief said that there was no reason to believe Rittenhouse was involved with any criminal activity, even though he walked towards officers with his hands up and supposedly called 911 saying he had killed someone. The police chief does not believe there was a lapse in judgement for allowing Rittenhouse to leave the scene. He was arrested the next day at his home in Illinois. He is being charged with two felony charges of homicide, a felony attempted homicide charge, and possession of a dangerous weapon while under the age of 18.
Wisconsin’s Governor Tony Evers called in the National Guard on Monday to Kenosha, adding more troops Tuesday. Law enforcement has used tear gas and small bean bags against protestors on multiple nights along with using shields and armored vehicles to press protestors back. Curfews were implemented because of multiple buildings being burned and looting.
Sports Teams Protesting Police Brutality
Wednesday night, the Milwaukee Bucks stayed in their locker room instead of playing, hoping to send a message to the Wisconsin Attorney General about the shooting of Jacob Blake. The Orlando Magic left the court in support of the Bucks’ protest. All NBA playoff games were subsequently postponed this week due to the boycott. In addition, the WNBA postponed all games to encourage reflections and discussions of current events. Some Major League Baseball teams postponed games this week, with others making statements against police brutality. The National Hockey League postponed all games. In the NFL, multiple teams canceled practices or scrimmages, including the Detroit Lions. Other teams made statements against police brutality and made demands to Mitch McConnell to bring the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2020 to the Senate. This act would end qualified immunity, ban chokeholds and no-knock warrants, hold police accountable, prohibit racial profiling, and require body cameras.
Police Response to Protests in Detroit
On August 22nd, Detroit police officers arrested 44 peaceful protestors and severely beat protestors with batons, along with using tear gas and pepper spray. Protestors with Detroit Will Breathe were protesting against Operation Legend, which places federal agents in U.S. cities to address gun violence, according to Attorney General William Barr. Among those beaten and tear gassed were legal observers and a photographer. The National Lawyers Guild observes protests to document police brutality and ensure that First Amendment rights are not violated. Detroit Police Chief James Craig said legal observers and photographers may be arrested if they do not leave when police begin using force, even though the courts have said that is unconstitutional. Chief Craig defended his officers’ response and said that he will not allow a lawless area to be created - insinuating that that is what protestors were trying to do. Deputy Chief Todd Bettison told protesters at the press conference that they were not welcome in the city because protests are not working anymore.
Masks and physical distance continue to be the best means to protect yourself and others from COVID-19 when near other people. Experts believe that a recent increase in mask-wearing in many parts of the U.S. is responsible for a drop in new COVID-19 cases, but a lack of testing may also be involved. While the virus continues to kill around 1,000 people every day in the U.S., not enough people are being tested to properly track or contain the pandemic.
The CDC has issued new recommendations that suggest that retail and service industry employees not argue with mask-less customers who become violent or threatening when told to wear a mask. These recommendations come in response to the continuing trend for some people who do not care about putting others at risk and/or who think the virus isn't real to become aggressive when told that they cannot shop in stores where masks are mandatory. In Michigan, businesses are "required to refuse entry or service to those who decline to wear a face covering" unless the person is under five years old or cannot medicall tolerate a face covering. The CDC recommendations provide several potential actions to prevent violence, including clear signage regarding masks and social distancing, employee training, increased security, and having multiple employees work as a team in enforcing mask rules. It is important to note that the CDC recommendations are intended to be helpful to employers and employees nationwide, but the Michigan requirement not to allow entry or serve is a legal requirement in the state. CDC recommendations do not supersede Michigan Executive Orders.
State of Michigan: “Face Coverings: Frequently Asked Questions"
CDC: "Limiting Workplace Violence Associated with COVID-19 Prevention Policies in Retail and Services Businesses"
"Don't argue with anti-maskers, CDC warns stores"
New CDC COVID-19 Testing Guidelines Disputed by Experts
On August 24th, the CDC issued a controversial update to their COVID-19 testing guidelines with regards to testing those who are asymptomatic or have not come in close contact with somebody known to have COVID-19. Under the section “Considerations for COVID-19 Diagnostic (Molecular or Antigen) Testing,” guidelines now state that testing may not be required if you’ve been in close contact with those with known infection and if you remain asymptomatic. This is in contrast to previous guidelines, which stated that “testing is recommended for all close contacts of people infected with the coronavirus, regardless of symptoms.”
Reports have also stated that the pressure to change CDC testing guidelines came from the White House. The White House Coronavirus Task Force met prior to the CDC’s guidelines being updated, but Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and one of the leading figures in the COVID-19 pandemic response, states that he was not at the meeting and was undergoing surgery at the time. He stated that he was "concerned about the interpretation of these recommendations and worried it will give people the incorrect assumption that asymptomatic spread is not of great concern. In fact it is." Some state governors such as the governors of California, New York, and New Jersey have stated that they will not follow these new guidelines put forth by the CDC.
Evidence continues to support transmission of COVID-19 from those who are asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic, and this body of evidence continues to grow. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) put out a statement against the CDC Guideline changes, stating that “we know that children often show few or no symptoms of COVID-19” and that “without data and transparency, science and medical professionals are hampered” in their ability to respond to this pandemic. As this pandemic continues, testing is crucial, and putting out guidelines that prevent us from knowing and tracking asymptomatic transmission is dangerous. While the CDC still has a wealth of accurate and useful information, this change is confusing and has been met with broad backlash from the medical and scientific communities. When access to accurate and factual information is more crucial than ever, it is not disheartening to see a reputable source of information put out harmful changes due to potential politically influenced agendas.
Overview of Testing for SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19)
Updated CDC Guidelines
Fauci Says He Was in Surgery When Task Force Discussed CDC Guidelines
Some States Rejecting New CDC COVID-19 Testing Guidelines
Trump Officials Pressured CDC to Change Virus Testing Guidelines
Top U.S. Officials Told C.D.C. to Soften Coronavirus Testing Guidelines
American Academy of Pediatrics on CDC REcommendation Against COVID-19 Testing for Asymptomatic Individuals
CDC Clarification to Quarantine Guidelines
The CDC has posted a clarification on updated quarantine guidelines: The organization is not saying that COVID-19 immunity lasts three months as many news outlets had been reporting. They are instead saying that there is not yet any evidence of re-infection during this timeframe. At this time, immunity to COVID-19 is still being researched. The CDC further clarifies that following initial infection, the virus may still be detectable, but not infectious, in a person up to three months after initial infection. Therefore, re-testing within the three month period may not be helpful. However if a person who has recently been infected and recovered begins experiencing symptoms, they may need to be evaluated for re-infection. The original QM post on the subject can be found in the August 16 round-up.
For a link to the updated quarantine guidelines with the clarification, click here.
A continued point of discussion that has come up throughout the pandemic is whether or not a person who was infected with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, could become reinfected. As of Aug 16, 2020 the CDC states that “Reinfection with SARS-CoV-2 has not yet been definitively confirmed in any recovered persons to date. If, and if so when, persons can be reinfected with SARS-CoV-2 remains unknown and is a subject of investigation.”
More recently, there have been some reported cases of possible reinfection. Virologists across the globe are currently studying cases in Belgium and China. According to Marc Van Ranst, one of the cases being studied shows some promising findings. In a Forbes article linked below, he says “the woman’s symptoms were very mild the second time around, which may suggest any antibodies the patient's body developed may have protected her against a more serious infection even if they didn’t keep her from getting sick again.” We will continue to watch as new developments become available.
On August 29, 2020, CNN released an article highlighting a possible reinfection case in Nevada. This would be the first case in the United States. Scientists are still looking into this case to verify if this truly is a case of reinfection. Here is what they know: Genetic tests revealed the patient had been infected with two varieties of the virus. Back in April, the patient was diagnosed with COVID-19. His symptoms included a sore throat, cough, headache, nausea and diarrhea. The patient then recovered and began to feel better. After his recovery he had two negative tests. On May 31, the patient became ill with symptoms of fever, headache, dizziness, cough, nausea and diarrhea and ultimately required oxygen support. At that time, the patient was tested again for COVID-19, and the results were positive.
What does this mean:
We cannot rule out the possibility of COVID-19 reinfection
With just 3 cases of reported reinfection (more currently being investigated), it is still too soon to make a definitive assessment
It may be possible that if a vaccine is developed, it would need to be re-administered every year
Re-infection may be less severe for those who developed antibodies during their first infection
We cannot make sweeping generalizations or decisions based on the available data
There is not enough data to make conclusions on how contagious a person is if they are re-infected
The best thing to do as more information is gathered is to function as if a person who becomes re-infected is just as contagious as anyone else
Salus Center Leadership Transition and Fundraising
Three years ago, Rev. Phiwa Langeni founded Lansing's only LGBTQIA+ community center. Earlier this month, Phiwa announced that they were stepping down as Executive Director of the Salus Center and handing over leadership to a trio of new Co-Directors: Oprah Jrenal (she/her), Dio Aldridge (he/él), and Izze Copeland (she/her). While in many parts of the country, LGBTQIA+ communities are predominantly White-led, that is not true for Salus: Phiwa and the new Co-Directors are all BIPOC, and bring their commitment to racial equity to their work. BIPOC leadership is critical to uplifting the needs of our communities and centering the voices of those who are most marginalized within them.
In addition to the leadership transition, Salus is facing critical funding issues, and has started a GoFundMe to raise money to keep operating.
GoFundMe: Keep Lansing’s LGBTQIA+ Community Center Open!: https://charity.gofundme.com/o/en/campaign/keep-lansings-lgbtq-community-center-open
"The only LGBTQ center in Lansing is facing threats to its survival. New leaders aim to save it." https://www.lansingstatejournal.com/story/news/2020/08/13/only-lgbtq-center-lansing-facing-threats-its-survival/3356803001/
QM Public Health Crisis Round-Up Team (in no particular order):
Mauricio Franco (he/him/his), M.S.- Global Medicine, Fourth-year medical student.
Andrew-Huy Dang (he/him/his), B.S. Microbiology, Fourth-year medical student
Wyatt Shoemaker (he/him/his), Fourth-year medical student.
Antonio Flores (he/him/his), Third-year medical student, B.S. Public Health Sciences.
Daniel Pfau (they/them/theirs), Neuroscience PhD, Biological Sciences MS, Homeschool Teacher.
Francis Yang (he/him/his), M.S.-Global Medicine, Second-year medical student.
Kryssia Campos (she/her/hers), Second-year medical student.
Alessandra Daskalakis (she/her/hers): Second-year medical student, B.S. Biology, B.A. Comparative Literature
Vanessa Burnett (she/her/hers) M.P.H; Health Equity Consultant, Michigan Public Health Institute
Wilfredo Flores (he/him/his), fourth-year PhD candidate in Writing and Rhetoric, M.A. Technical Communication
Grey L. Pierce (they/them); M.A., 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