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!
Face Masks Now Mandatory in Michigan
On Friday, Governor Whitmer made it illegal for people to enter a building or be in a crowded outdoor space without a mask on, and also made it illegal for businesses to provide services to people who do not comply with the mask requirement. This executive order comes as Michigan has seen its highest one-day total of COVID-19-positive tests since May.
Executive Order language on mask requirements:
Any individual who leaves their home or place of residence must wear a face covering over their nose and mouth:
When in any indoor public space;
When outdoors and unable to consistently maintain a distance of six feet or more from individuals who are not members of their household; and
When waiting for or riding on public transportation, while in a taxi or ride-sharing vehicle, or when using a private car service as a means of hired transportation.
The requirement to wear a face covering does not apply to individuals who:
Are younger than five years old, though children two years old and older are strongly encouraged to wear a face covering, pursuant to guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”);
Cannot medically tolerate a face covering;
Are eating or drinking while seated at a food service establishment;
Are exercising when wearing a face covering would interfere in the activity;
Are receiving a service for which temporary removal of the face covering is necessary to perform the service;
Are entering a business or are receiving a service and are asked to temporarily remove a face covering for identification purposes;
Are communicating with someone who is hearing impaired or otherwise disabled and where the ability to see the mouth is essential to communication;
Are actively engaged in a public safety role, including but not limited to law enforcement, firefighters, or emergency medical personnel;
Are officiating at a religious service; or
Are giving a speech for broadcast or an audience
Executive Order language on business requirements:
To protect workers, shoppers, and the community, no business that is open to the public may provide service to a customer or allow a customer to enter its premises, unless the customer is wearing a face covering as required by this order.
The order takes effect immediately for individuals and on Monday, July 13th for businesses.
COVID-19 Herd Immunity May Be Unachievable
A recent study out of Spain suggests that antibodies against COVID-19, an indicator of potential immunity, may no longer be present within a few weeks after testing positive for COVID-19 antibodies (those who tested positive for COVID-19 antibodies weeks later tested negative). This study also showed that many people who were in hotspot areas tested negative for COVID-19 antibodies. This growing body of evidence suggests that there may not be long-lasting immunity to COVID-19, even after exposure or recovery, and as a result, herd immunity would not be possible simply through exposure over time. This means that if you have been exposed to the virus and developed immunity (whether or not you became sick), you can get sick if exposed to it again weeks or months later. While there is still more research to be conducted, so far, evidence suggests that even if you have been exposed and may have some degree of immunity for a period of time, there is not much evidence yet to suggest longer-term or lifelong immunity to COVID-19, thus continued social distancing, hygiene measures, and listening to your local public health officials and directives continue to be of utmost importance in maintaining the health of yourself and those in your communities.
Coronavirus Antibodies Study Herd Immunity in Spain
Lancet Publication on Antibodies
The BREATHE Act
The Movement for Black Lives' Electoral Justice Project recently unveiled the BREATHE Act, a "visionary bill [that] divests our taxpayer dollars from brutal and discriminatory policing and invests in a new vision of public safety—a vision that answers the call to defund the police and allows all communities to finally BREATHE free." The Act is being championed by Rashida Tlaib (Democratic Representative from Michigan) and Ayanna Pressley (Democratic Representative from Massachusetts).
The bill has four sections:
Divesting Federal Resources from Incarceration and Policing & Ending Criminal-Legal System Harms
Investing in New Approaches to Community Safety Utilizing Funding Incentives
Allocating New Money to Build Healthy, Sustainable & Equitable Communities for All People
Holding Officials Accountable & Enhancing Self-Determination of Black Communities
Brief Summary of the BREATHE Act
Section 1. Divesting Federal Resources from Incarceration and Policing & Ending Criminal-Legal System Harms
"Eliminate federal programs and agencies used to finance and expand the U.S. criminal-legal system"
"Make recommendations to dramatically reduce the Department of Defense budget"
"Directly make changes to the federal criminal-legal system, including changes to the policing, prosecution, sentencing, and jailing practices that have disproportionately criminalized Black and Brown communities, LGBTQIA people, Indigenous people, and disabled people"
Section 2. Investing in New Approaches to Community Safety Utilizing Funding Incentives
"Create federal grant programs that incentivize decarceration and subsidize non-punitive, community-led approaches to public safety"
Incentivize State, tribal, and local policy changes to:
Ban pretextual stops and "consent" searches
Remove police, armed security, metal detectors, and other surveillance equipment from schools and government offices that provide social services
Abolish State gang databases
Eliminate all fees and surcharges in the justice system and forgive court debts
Decriminalize and retroactively expunge State drug convictions
Eliminate misdemeanor and "pay only" probation
Ending State and local police involvement with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Customs and Border Protection (CBP), and federal immigration enforcement agencies (until ICE and CBP are dismantled)
Repeal all existing State juvenile offenses
Ban the use of police agencies as tools of political repression
Require that States that receive grant funds use them to fund non-carceral interventions that improve community safety
Section 3. Allocating New Money to Build Healthy, Sustainable & Equitable Communities for All People
Establish grants to promote the following, and provide resources for programs/investments and incentives for states and jurisdictions that make the recommended policy changes:
Health and Family Justice
Housing & Infrastructure
Section 4. Holding Officials Accountable & Enhancing Self-Determination of Black Communities
“Require Congress to acknowledge and address the lasting harms that it has caused," and establish "commissions that design reparations for mass criminalization—including the War on Drugs, the criminalization of prostitution, and police violence; border violence; and the systemic violation of the U.S. Government’s treaty obligations to Tribal nations"
"Ensure democratic, fair, and secure voting processes that are free from racial discrimination and voter suppression in every State”
The Breathe Act: https://breatheact.org/
Racial Inequities of COVID-19
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released new data regarding racial inequities in the pandemic. This data includes 974 counties across the United States and represents half of the U.S. population. Early numbers showed that Black and Latinx individuals were more likely to contract COVID-19, but new data has shown how drastic the disparities actually are. The data shows that Black and Latinx individuals are 3 times more likely to contract COVID-19 than their White counterparts.These disparities span across the entire United States, in both urban and rural areas, and across age ranges. In Missouri, Black or Latinx individuals make up 60% of cases, but only make up 14% of the state population. In Grand Rapids, Black and Latinx individuals make up 63% of the cases but only make up 20% of the population. In much of Arizona, Indigenous people are more likely to contract the virus than White people.
While this data has given us a clearer picture of how large the disparities are, more than half of cases are missing information regarding race, resulting from limited funding and poor resource allocation for public health systems. The CDC must rely on local public health departments to gather all of the data on each case, but with the great number of cases, those public health departments are overwhelmed. In addition, this data is only from the end of May, so it does not include the recent surges of coronavirus cases.
It is critical to note that BIack, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) are not at increased risk because of their skin color or genetic factors, but instead because of systemic racism. Systemic racism leads to BIPOC individuals having less access to healthcare, being more likely to work essential and low-paying jobs, being more likely to live in smaller home or with more people, and being more likely to use crowded public transportation, making it harder to isolate and avoid contact with others who may be infected. All of these increase a person’s chance of contracting the virus. Race is not a risk factor, but racism is, and racism underpins all of the health disparities we are seeing.
COVID-19 Vaccine Update
In a recent press conference, Dr. Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, gave an update on COVID-19 vaccine progress, stating that “we will at least have an answer whether the vaccine or vaccines - plural - are safe and effective” by 2021. Some vaccine trials are set to enter Phase 3 clinical trials by the end of July, with Phase 3 generally being the last phase of clinical trials before a drug or vaccine can be released to the public. Doses of currently researched vaccines have been mass produced to account for potential shortages upon release if proven effective, and if the vaccine(s) prove to be ineffective or harmful, the doses will be discarded. It is important to note that there is no guarantee that any of the vaccines being researched will end up being approved for use, and if any are approved, they are unlikely to be available until next year.
So far, Operation Warp Speed, the federal government’s effort to push for vaccines and treatments for COVID-19 and make them publicly available, has given out about $4 billion in funding, including its largest award to date to a company named Novavax. Many contracts so far have been made to pursue multiple avenues of vaccines and treatments, but details about how the funding will be used are scarce. In the same press briefing, Dr. Francis Collins, director of the NIH, also stated that despite the name of this operation, the process is not being rushed and that “there will be no compromising on the principles of safety and efficacy.” Dr. Fauci and Dr. Collins also emphasized that we are still “knee-deep” in the first wave of this pandemic and that the current state is not good. As always, there is continued emphasis on following public health guidance, adhering to social distancing measures, and partaking in proper hygiene measures.
Fauci on a COVID-19 vaccine: 'We will at least have an answer' in the winter whether it works
Novavax Coronavirus Operation Warp Speed
Some Patients Experiencing COVID-19 Symptoms Lasting Months
Research and hospital reporting is increasingly showing that some patients continue to experience symptoms long after their initial diagnosis with COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus. Some patients diagnosed with COVID-19 early in the pandemic are still experiencing symptoms. These symptoms include fatigue, shortness of breath, and fever, among others. The range of patients experiencing such long-lasting symptoms include both those who were hospitalized and those whose symptoms were not severe enough for hospitalization. A recent study looking specifically at patients who were discharged from the hospital in Italy found that just over 87% of those patients who responded to the survey continued to experience at least one symptom 60 days after the onset of their first symptom, most commonly difficulty breathing or fatigue. More research needs to be done to better understand the root cause of long-lasting symptoms and whether or not they are unique to COVID-19 or a result of the complications that arise as the body fights the virus. For example, pneumonia, which is one of the more serious complications of COVID-19 infections, often has a long recovery period in people who have not been diagnosed with COVID-19. Nonetheless, current research supports the idea that an important part of caring for patients diagnosed with COVID-19 is supporting them through their recovery however long that may be. Patient advocates are reminding physicians that knowing so little about a disease with such long-lasting effects means listening and being open to the physical and emotional impact on patients’ daily lives.
Virus Mutation More Infectious, But Doesn’t Cause More Severe Illness
Beginning in March, one specific mutation of the virus that causes COVID-19 has been prominent in infections around the world. The mutation swaps one amino acid, aspartic acid, for another, glycine. Among the research community, the mutation is referred to as D614G. Amino acid sequences are very specific and determine the structure of viral proteins. This specific change in amino acid sequence affects the structure of the protein that allows the virus to attach to and ultimately enter and infect cells, referred to as the “spike protein.” How D614G became the prominent mutation around the world is not certain, but one theory suggests the progression of the pandemic from Europe to the United States was a major factor. The mutation is believed to have appeared first in Europe and became prominent in the United States due to travel between the regions, and during the outbreak in New York which resulted in a large number of cases. Another theory on how this mutation became prominent is rooted in the belief that the mutation makes the virus more infectious. Multiple studies suggest that the changes to the structure of the spike protein enable the virus to more effectively infect people. Further research is being done to understand if this is because the mutated spike protein allows the virus to more effectively attach, invade, or replicate, or a combination of the three, in cells. Despite the mutation making it easier for the virus that causes COVID-19 to spread, research thus far has consistently shown that the mutation does not appear to affect the severity of the disease in patients. That is to say, it’s easier for people to get sick, but they aren’t getting sicker than people infected with other strains of the virus. It is also not believed that the mutation will affect the effectiveness of a future vaccine. In general, it is common for viruses to mutate, and compared to other viruses, like the virus that causes the flu, the virus that causes COVID-19 mutates less often. Further study is being conducted to better understand the mutation and its impact on the transmission of the virus, as well as possible ways to fight it.
Michigan Takes First Step in Improving Equity Across Healthcare Systems
On Thursday, Governor Whitmer signed an Executive Directive that directs the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) to develop rules that require healthcare professionals to take implicit bias training in applying for or renewing licenses. “Implicit bias” refers to unconscious stereotypes that impact behavior. This requirement was a recommendation from the Michigan Coronavirus Task Force on Racial Disparities. Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) can experience less pain management, fewer accurate diagnoses, and worse clinical outcomes due to implicit bias within the healthcare system. Studies on implicit bias training for healthcare professionals have been shown to have a positive impact on health outcomes. In order to develop the requirements, LARA must consult with stakeholders, such as healthcare professionals and governmental public health. While implicit bias training is an important piece, root causes of oppression and social factors must also be addressed to improve health outcomes for BIPOC individuals.
First Wave of COVID-19 Not Over
The First-wave of Covid-19 in the U.S. is over.
According to Dr. Fauci, one of the nation’s top public health experts, the U.S. is still “knee-deep in the first wave” of COVID-19. Although there isn’t a strict definition on when a “wave” begins or ends, it requires a peak in infections followed by a substantial decrease in cases, which was never the case in the United States. According to figures from John Hopkins, the U.S. currently has more than 3 million confirmed cases of COVID-19, and is seeing record highs of over 60,000 new cases per day. Dr. Fauci believes this increase in cases is linked to cities and states that reopened too soon, like Louisiana and Florida, which have seen surges in new cases over the last month. Experts advise that states should not reopen until they see a downward trajectory over a 14-day period.
"Trans Lifeline is a trans-led organization that connects trans people to the community, support, and resources they need to survive and thrive." The service added Spanish language service this month.
Call Trans Lifeline at (877)565-8860 or find more information at https://www.translifeline.org/
Trans Lifeline is a grassroots hotline and microgrants 501(c)(3) non-profit organization offering direct emotional and financial support to trans people in crisis - for the trans community, by the trans community.
Trans Lifeline was founded in 2014 as a peer-support crisis hotline. The Hotline was, and still is, the only service in the country in which all operators are transgender. Because of the particularly vulnerable relationship transgender people have with police, it is also the only service in the country with a policy against non-consensual active rescue.
Since our founding, Trans Lifeline’s services have grown to match growing need from our community. Our Hotline has evolved from an entirely volunteer-run operation into a comprehensive resource that employs trans people working as paid operators and team leads. Our operators have logged thousands of hours of talk time with trans people in our community, and, with new volunteers signing up all the time, our capacity is only growing.
In time, we came to recognize that the epidemic of suicide in the trans community is inextricably tied to the economic justice issues trans people face at alarming rates, and that meaningful emotional support often requires financial support as well. In 2017, Trans Lifeline merged with the Trans Assistance Project, which became our Microgrants program. Microgrants offers low-barrier grants to trans people for legal name changes and updated government identification documents, as well as specialized support for incarcerated and undocumented trans people. While this is a relatively new program, we recently celebrated the disbursal of $100,000 in small grants to trans people - all with a commitment to resist gatekeeping and respectability politics.
Trans Lifeline is committed to being a resource that the trans community can continue to rely on for years to come. With your support, we can keep these vital services available to those in our community who need them most.
QM Public Health Crisis Round-Up Team (in no particular order):
Mauricio Franco (he/him/his), M.S.- Global Medicine, Third year medical student.
Andrew-Huy Dang (he/him/his), Third year medical student, B.S. Microbiology.
Wyatt Shoemaker (he/him/his), Third year medical student.
Antonio Flores (he/him/his), Second 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, First year medical student.
Kryssia Campos (she/her/hers), First year medical student.
Alessandra Daskalakis (she/her/hers): First 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), 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