Biden Making Rapid Changes to Federal Approach to COVID-19 and to Racism

President Biden has signed dozens of Executive Orders, Directives, and other measures in the days since taking office. A few of the most important with respect to COVID-19 and racism:



A number of other executive orders and directives were also signed, including one that will significantly benefit LGBTQ+ communities, by enforcing the prohibition on discrimination due to sexual orientation and gender identity. 


Indoor Dining to Reopen in Michigan February 1st

MDHHS has announced that as of February 1st, indoor dining will be allowed in Michigan, with restrictions still in place.

"Restaurants and bars will be allowed to reopen at 25% capacity with up to 100 people. Tables must be six feet apart with no more than six people per table. Outdoor tents with four sides are permitted under these same rules. Bars and restaurants must close by 10 p.m. Additionally, contact information must be collected from diners for contact tracing purposes."

Diners are required to wear a mask when not actively eating or drinking. MDHHS has provided a simple "Dining During COVID-19" guide.

Concessions at movie theaters, stadiums, and casinos will also be allowed, as will personal services that require mask removal and non-residential gatherings of up to 10 people from two households. The new order will be in effect from February 1st through February 21st

Feb. 1: Indoor dining guidelines


Even with these requirements, indoor dining remains high-risk. Consider reducing your risk:

For more information about indoor dining, visit Questions or concerns can be emailed to


COVID-19, Feb. 1: Gathering Guidelines


Not open

*See DHHS guidance for safety practices.**Includes a limited number of NCAA sport

For more information about the order, visit Questions or concerns can be emailed to


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First Cases of More Infectious COVID-19 Virus Variant In Michigan

The variant of the virus that causes COVID-19 first found in the UK (as reported in our December 20 update) has now reached Michigan. The first case in the state was found in Washtenaw County last weekend. The strain appears to be at least 50% more transmissible (i.e., it spreads more easily), though there is not yet any evidence that it is more deadly or causes more severe infections. Please continue to wear a mask and maintain physical distance whenever you are around people from outside your household, wash your hands, and follow other health precautions.

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National COVID-19 Response

It has been over a year since the COVID-19 pandemic started and we are now finally seeing a coordinated plan being promoted by the White House. We hope that in sharing the highlighted components of this document our QM family will begin to get a sense of how the Biden administration plans to combat the crisis created by the COVID-19 pandemic. There is a lot to read through; however, the documents make efforts to highlight key components to help make sense of the plan. The National Strategy for COVID-19 Response and Pandemic Preparedness is organized around seven goals outlined in a 200 page document. A key first step of this strategy was the signing of an Executive Order making face coverings mandatory in federal buildings, on federal property, and during interstate travel. 

The Biden administration has dedicated a page on the White House website specifically addressing the COVID-19 pandemic stating they will 

The plan includes the following high-level strategies, each of which has more detail on the website: 

The National Strategy serves as a roadmap to get the United States public out of the pandemic. It is an actionable plan meant to be implemented across the country at the local and national level. This is an extensive document. To help our readers identify the key components of this strategy we are highlighting the seven goals, their key actions, and immediate actions. Please feel free to explore the document in full if you desire. 

While there is great opportunity and hope, we also remain watchful and vigilant of the new administration’s promises and commitments to end the COVID-19 pandemic. The Trump era is over, but we must continue to hold those in power accountable. 

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COVID-19 Decreasing Life Expectancy in U.S., Particularly for Black and Latinx People

According to a recent publication, the number of COVID-19 deaths has been so large that overall life expectancy in the United States is expected to decrease by 1.13 years due to the pandemic. Due to the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on BIPOC, the researchers found that Black and Latinx populations in the U.S. face life expectancy reductions that are 3-4 times that of Whites. The expected reduction in life expectancy for Whites is 0.68 years (approximately 8 months), while it is 2.1 years for Black people and 3.05 years for Latinx people.

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NYPD Sued by NY Attorney General Over Handling of BLM Protests

On January 14, New York Attorney General Letitia James filed a suit against the New York Police Department (NYPD), New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea, and NYPD Chief of Department Terence Monahan for the mishandling of George Floyd protests. So far, James has collected over 1,300 complaints and 300 written statements from a public hearing on the police brutality folks have experienced since May, 2020. These incidents include use of force, unjustified arrests and detainings, and unlawful uses of pepper spray. Hospital workers and protestors have been among those targeted by the NYPD with some requiring staples and stitches after interactions with the police.

According to the city Department of Investigation, a large reason why the NYPD has resorted to violence is because they were unable to predict just how many protestors would come and how much violence would be enacted. Because of this lack of foresight, the police instead relied on poor judgment and no discipline. In response, James believes more federal supervision is warranted, but Mayor de Blasio believes that would only slow down current police reforms. James’ lawsuit joins others filed by organizations including Legal Aid and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

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COVID-19 Outbreak in Michigan State Prison

Earlier this month, a state prison in Michigan located in Tittabawassee Township (between Saginaw and Midland), was reported to be in “outbreak status” of COVID-19 with 774 of the 1,387 inmates testing positive as of January 11, 2021. So far, 123 inmates have died of COVID-19 in Michigan. Prisons have continually been in the news as locations for extensive spread of COVID-19. According to the Marshall Project, 1 in 5 prisoners in the United States has had COVID-19, and Michigan is among the worst states in the nation, with 1 in 2 prisoners having been infected. For those in close quarters and poor prison living conditions, as well as limited access to healthcare, COVID-19 has been deadly. Many in public health and in health care have pushed for low-risk prisoners to be released due to the incredible risk COVID-19 poses for this vulnerable population, and while some cities have released prisoners who were there for minor offenses, many are still at risk of dying. Prisoners are people, and prison sentences are not death sentences.

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U.S. Passes 400,000 COVID-19 Deaths

More than 400,000 people in the United States have now died of COVID-19. The milestone was reached on January 19th, just over a month after the nation passed 300,000 deaths (December 14th).

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Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine Immunity May Last At Least One Year

Representatives from Moderna at the J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference stated that immunity from the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine could last at least a year. While research is still needed on how long immunity lasts, immunity for at least a year would mean more time for more people to get revaccinated, should that be necessary. In addition, they state that the vaccine should be effective against the new, more infectious strains of the virus that causes COVID-19, however research is still needed to confirm that. It has only been about a year since the first case of COVID-19 was reported in the US, and a lot of information is still being collected, but current information shows that existing vaccines approved for use in the U.S. are safe and effective.

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Downtown East Lansing Outdoor Mask Order Extended

The City of East Lansing has extended the requirement to wear a mask in all outdoor public spaces downtown through February 28th. Exceptions to the requirement are made for people "seated at a table and eating or drinking" or those that cannot medically tolerate wearing a mask. The order includes "all outdoor public spaces within the boundaries of the East Lansing Downtown Development Authority (DDA)," which includes areas on and near Grand River Avenue from Hillside Court (on the west side of Valley Court Park) to Hagadorn Road. The region includes all of downtown East Lansing (the area around Albert Avenue from Abbot Road to Bailey Street) as well as the Cedar Village region (from Grand River Ave. to the Red Cedar River, from Bogue Street to Woodmere Avenue). Map: 

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Italy’s COVID-19 Vaccine Roll-Out Could Lead to Outing of Transgender Individuals

Italian activitists are concerned that the current vaccine process in the country could lead to transgender individuals being outed. When arriving to receive the vaccination, individuals are required to stand in gender-segregated lines for men and for women to gain entry to the facility. This could cause trouble for trans people who do not have documents that accurately reflect their gender identity or whose gender presentation does not align with common stereotypes and for individuals who identify as non-binary, genderqueer, agender, or genderfluid. Italy has a long and expensive process to change documents regarding gender identity, so it is out of reach for many trans people. Forcing individuals to force pick a line that may conflict with their gender identity is unsafe and a violation of privacy, and there is no medical reason to segregate vaccinations based on gender. Transgender individuals in Italy still face harassament and discrimination. Currently, the country does not have protections in either housing or employment based on gender identity. Activists are calling for de-segretating the gendered vaccination process and have made other recommendations to health officials to keep transgender and non-binary individuals safe. 

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CDC Updates Vaccine Administration Guidelines

In a recent update to COVID-19 vaccination guidelines, the CDC made two important changes, the first being that in “exceptional situations in which the first-dose vaccine product cannot be determined or is no longer available, any available mRNA COVID-19 vaccine may be administered.” This change is similar to that change made in the United Kingdom earlier this month. It is not clear what “exceptional situations” may include, and the CDC maintains that the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are not interchangeable. It is still best to keep to the same vaccine product once you are vaccinated, with Pfizer injections being 21 days apart and Moderna being 28 days apart.

The timing of injections, however, was the other significant change. The CDC guidelines now state that “if it is not feasible to adhere to the recommended interval, the second dose of Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines may be scheduled for administration up to 6 weeks (42 days) after the first dose.” The intention of this change has primarily been to ease the burden on those who may not have access or can’t strictly adhere to the 21 or 28 day vaccination schedule gap between doses. Dr. Fauci stated that “immunologically, I don’t think that’s going to make a big difference,” meaning that in his opinion, having a longer window of 6 weeks between doses shouldn’t affect efficacy too much, but the current data only addresses efficacy at shorter intervals. If you have access to the vaccine, you should continue to do your best to stick with the same product and timing between doses, Pfizer being 21 days and Moderna being 28 days apart.

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Biden Chooses Transgender Doctor Rachel Levine as Assistant Health Secretary 

This week, President Biden named Dr. Rachel Levine as his choice for assistant secretary of health. Dr. Levine is currently the Pennsylvania Health Secretary and has led the state’s coronavirus response efforts. If confirmed by the Senate, Dr. Levine would become the highest appointed or elected openly transgender federal official. As assistant secretary of health, she would oversee health offices nationwide, the office of the Surgeon General, the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, and other key health programs. She was appointed Pennsylvania Health Secretary by the democratic governor in 2017, but has been confirmed three times by the Republican State Senate. She is still one of few transgender individuals to serve in elected or appointed positions in state government. President Biden is relying on her leadership and extensive experience to help with the country’s public health needs in the pandemic and beyond. Dr. Levine has worked to tackle the opioid epidemic in Pennsylvania by increasing access to treatment and recovery. Additionally, her office has focused on health equity and she herself has focused on LGBTQIA+ equity issues. The Biden administration is anticipated to advance transgender rights more than any previous administration. Having transgender representation and leadership at a top level is important to understand lived experience and continue to remove barriers for optimal LGBTQIA+ health and wellbeing. 

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