Armed Protests by White Supremacists Anticipated in Lansing and Capitols Around the U.S.

The FBI has warned that "armed protests" are planned at all 50 state capitols in the U.S., as well as in Washington, D.C. over the coming days (at least through Biden's inauguration on Wednesday).

In Lansing, Governor Whitmer has mobilized the National Guard and windows at office buildings near the State Capitol have been boarded up. The Michigan State Senate Majority Leader canceled meetings of the legislature for the coming week due to "credible threats regarding events scheduled to take place at and around the state Capitol."

Lansing Mayor Andy Schor issued a statement that "In light of expected demonstrations at the Capitol Building this Sunday, I urge everyone to avoid coming to the Capitol and surrounding area." and Lansing Police Chief Daryl Green also encouraged people to avoid downtown today (Sunday). Even militias have asked members to avoid Lansing, with one militia leader stating "We have additional intelligence that the Proud Boys intend to be there to cause 'maximum chaos.'" The Lansing Chapter of Black Lives Matter has asked people to stay home from the 15th through the 21st, and issued a list of Community Safety Suggestions for preparedness.

More information:

MLK Day Events Go Virtual Due to COVID-19

In recognition and celebration or Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, virtual events are being hosted throughout Michigan that people can participate in safely, without leaving their homes.

MSU's MLK Event Schedule (with virtual events all week):

Virtual MLK Day events in Metro Detroit:

MDHHS Extends Mask Requirement and Gathering Limits

MDHHS has extended the emergency order restricting gatherings and requiring masks to be worn in Michigan through the end of January. The revised order allows indoor group exercise and non-contact sports to resume, in order to support the mental and physical health of residents. If cases continue to decrease in the state, indoor dining at restaurants could resume as soon as February 1st (with capacity limits and other restrictions). Some details of the updated Epidemic Order from the Fact Sheet:

Residential Gathering Limits

Face masks are still required

Non-Residential Venues

Retail and personal services

Food service

"Gathering" means any occurrence where two or more persons from more than one household are present in a shared space. Incidental, temporary gatherings (such as at a store, airport, or food service establishment) are excepted.


COVID-19 Jan. 13 Order: Gathering Guidelines


Not open

*See Social Gathering Guidance.*Include a limited number of NCAA sports.

For more information about the order, visit Questions or concerns can be emailed to — Michigan Department of Health & Human Services

More information:

Continue COVID-19 Precautions After Vaccinations

Even after being vaccinated, there are significant reasons as to why we must continue to wear masks, practice social distancing, wash our hands properly and regularly, and continue to follow other public health guidelines. For one, the vaccine is not 100% effective. While both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines show high efficacy, about 1 in 20 vaccinated people may still get sick. As more and more people get vaccinated, the percentage of people in the overall population that get sick will definitely decrease, and so far the data is promising, however it is still important to continue to partake in safe practices regarding COVID-19 until this data is available.

In addition, it is still not completely known whether somebody who is vaccinated can spread the virus or not. The main focus of the vaccine trials was to prevent the vaccinated individual from infection, not to test how infectious somebody is after vaccination, if at all. It still may be possible for somebody to asymptomatically transmit the disease, and scientists are still trying to figure out if this is possible in those who have been vaccinated. (It is not known whether a person who is vaccinated and does not become sick with COVID-19 may still act as a carrier of the virus between others, for example, by having contagious viral particles in their lungs that they breathe on others, without themselves becoming sick from them.) Since it has not been very long since people have received the full 2 doses of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, it may still be a while before this question is answered. Currently, only about 1.6 million people have received the full two doses of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine here in the US.

It is also important to note that it takes time to build immunity once you’re vaccinated. In the initial trials of both the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines, it took about 2 weeks after the first dose to be around 50% effective and at least 1-2 weeks after the second dose to reach the full 94-95% effectiveness that the vaccines are capable of. Until we reach herd immunity, it is not advisable to meet people in person even if both of you may be vaccinated, as the protection is not 100%. 

Due to the many currently unanswered questions and pending data, we must continue to follow public health guidelines to protect each other and ourselves for the foreseeable future. It may be difficult for some but it will not be forever, and we must do our best to play our part in ending this pandemic.

 More Information:

Snyder and Other Top Officials Charged in Flint Water Crisis

The Michigan Attorney General’s office announced this week that former Governor Snyder, along with 8 other officials, are being charged with various crimes related to the Flint water crisis. This comes after Attorney General Nessel dropped previous charges against the former governor and other officials in 2019, claiming the previous charges did not include all available evidence. Snyder is only charged with two counts of willful neglect of duty, which are misdemeanors. Two health officials, Former Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) Director Nick Lyons and former Chief Medical Executive Eden Wells, are charged with nine counts of involuntary manslaughter each, along with other various charges. 

In 2014, the governor-appointed emergency manager changed Flint’s water source from the City of Detroit water system to the Flint River in order to save money. Officials failed to take precautions against corrosion from the changed water source and thus, lead was leached from the pipes. This caused dangerous levels of lead to be consumed by Flint residents, including children. Dangerous levels of lead can cause permanent neurological issues, particularly when the exposure is in childhood. The change of water also led to an outbreak of Legionnaires' disease which caused 12 deaths. Citizens noticed health changes along with discolored water and brought their concerns to city officials. While in 2015, the City Council approved changing the water source back to the City of Detroit, the emergency manager refused to do so. Top officials continued to support the change to the Flint River even after being shown the negative and deadly health impacts of the water source. It was not until late 2015 that the water was switched back to the City of Detroit, but the damage was already done.

At the root of the Flint water crisis is systemic and environmental racism. Flint has suffered from decades of economic disenfranchisement and disinvestment because residents are primarily Black, something that has been seen across the country. With around 40% of the residents living below the poverty line, needed support and resources are not present. The move to a different water source was purely to save money without regard to the health impacts of the residents, something that would not have happened in a more affluent white neighborhood. Even after voicing concerns and showing clearly that this water was harmful, residents’ voices were not valued enough to be listened to. Again, something that is unlikely to have happened in a primarily white city. This country systemically values Black individuals less and that can be clearly seen in the Flint water crisis. The water source should have been addressed at the first sight of concerns, not two years down the road. 

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Outside Dining: Tents, Igloos, Yurts. Are They Safe?

Indoor dining at restaurants has been banned in Michigan since November. Though a needed measure to slow down the spread of COVID-19, this has inevitably taken a financial toll on many restaurants. Many owners have turned to creative measures to offer outdoor dining, and we have seen outdoor tents, igloos, and yurts popping up. The idea is that these would offer a safe outdoor dining experience and also protect customers from the cold winter. But how safe are these? Unfortunately, there isn’t an easy answer.  According to health experts, any enclosed space poses a risk because there may not be adequate ventilation.  Experts are still researching how long aerosol (tiny viral particles) stay in the air, which means that if a tent is not cleaned and aired out appropriately in between parties, the risk of being exposed to COVID-19 is higher. According to Aubree Gordon, an associate professor at the University of Michigan School of Public Health, tents should be left open for at least 20 minutes between parties.  Another factor to consider is whether the tent is fully enclosed. A tent with four walls and a roof is not going to have ideal airflow. If the tent is not fully enclosed, it’s important to ensure that there is enough distance between tents. In addition, pay attention to the way the restaurant is handling their service. Are employees wearing their masks? Are they wearing them properly? There is still much to learn about tents, igloos, and yurts, and their safety, but health experts emphasize that the same recommendations still apply: Wear your mask when not eating and do not share tents with people outside of your household. If possible, get take out instead of dining on-location. You are still supporting the restaurant while staying safe at home!

More information:

Police Involvement in Insurrection

At least 32 police and law enforcement personnel from 15 states are reported to have attended the rally that turned into a terrorist attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6th, “at least 13 off-duty law enforcement officials are suspected of taking part in the riot,” and multiple Capitol Police officers have been suspended and are under investigation for their actions during the coup attempt. This should come as no surprise, given the prevalence of White supremacists among police forces in the United States and racism built into the law enforcement system, with roots going all the way back to the origins of modern policing in slave patrols. One somewhat surprising new development is that some officers have begun alerting police chiefs and others that their colleagues took part in the Capitol attack, breaking the typical silence and protection they afford each other to cover up racism and police brutality.

Further Reading:

Police Are 3 Times More Likely to Use Force Against Left-Wing Protesters

A new report from the U.S. Crisis Monitor (a collaboration between researchers at Princeton University and the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data project) also found that police are three times more likely to use force against left-wing protesters than right-wing protesters. The analysis was conducted of over 13,000 protests in the US since April. Tear gas, rubber bullets, baton beatings, and other force were used against demonstrators at 511 left-wing protests and 33 right-wing protests. “The Guardian compared the percentage of all demonstrations organized by leftwing and rightwing groups that resulted in the use of force by law enforcement. For leftwing demonstrations, that was about 4.7% of protests, while for rightwing demonstrations, it was about 1.4%, meaning law enforcement was about three times more likely to use force against leftwing versus rightwing protests.” “Looking at the subset of protests in which demonstrators did not engage in any violence, vandalism, or looting, law enforcement officers were about 3.5 times more likely to use force against leftwing protests than rightwing protests, with about 1.8% of peaceful leftwing protests and only half a percent of peaceful rightwing protests met with teargas, rubber bullets or other force from law enforcement.”

More information:

Two New Strains of SARS-CoV2 in Ohio

Over the last few weeks, scientists have been addressing the concerns of the changing nature of viruses. Specifically, variations to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, have been spreading around the world, with new strains first observed in the UK and Africa. Most recently, Ohio researchers have discovered two new strains of SARS-CoV-2 that first appeared in the United States. 

More information:

Herd Immunity Unlikely in 2021

In a recent announcement, the WHO’s Chief Scientist, Dr. Soumya Swaminathan, stated that herd immunity through COVID-19 vaccines would not be achieved by the end of 2021, even as vaccination efforts continue and ramp up. While many vulnerable populations may have significant numbers vaccinated within the year, it is unlikely that the herd immunity threshold, which is estimated to be around 70-80% of the world population, will be achieved by the end of 2021. In addition, with new strains of the virus showing increased ability to spread and infect people, that number of people needed to be vaccinated to achieve herd immunity may be even higher. As such, until herd immunity is achieved, it is crucial to continue following what is proven to work: wear masks, socially distance, practice proper hand hygiene, and continue to follow public health guidelines, and get fully vaccinated as soon as a vaccine is available to you.

More Information:

Federal Vaccine Distribution Issues

Confusion about the federal vaccine supply is causing logistical challenges for states working to expand their vaccination programs. Earlier this week, Trump Administration officials stated that the current stockpile of vaccines, previously kept in reserve to ensure that those who had already received their first vaccine dose would have access to a second dose, would be released to states in an effort to vaccinate more people immediately. The decision to release the doses was said to be made on the basis that current manufacturing rates are stable enough to ensure enough vaccine supplies for second doses without stockpiling. However, later in the week, according to multiple news agencies, it became clear that the federal government had already begun distributing the remaining doses formerly in reserve at the end of December. As a result of this confusion, officials in many states who had taken steps to begin expanding vaccinations to people 65 and older and other vulnerable populations, contingent on increased access to vaccines, have responded that they will no longer be able to do so. The confusion comes at a time when vaccination is already behind schedule, with the Associated Press reporting that as of Monday, January 11th, approximately 34% of vaccines distributed to states across the country had been administered. 


Reporting of updated understanding: 

Reporting of initial statement:

What You Need to Know About COVID-19 Variants 

The information below is copied directly from the Johns Hopkins COVID-19 School of Public Health Expert Insights. This series of questions and answers help shed light on ongoing concerns we continue to hear folx express and ask about. While more data is being collected, these answers help provide context. 

With new variants of COVID-19 emerging across the globe, what do you need to know? Immunology expert Andy Pekosz, PhD, answers some key questions.


This Week's QM Round-Up Contributors (in alphabetical order):