July 19, 2020: Roundup & Myth Busting
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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!
Lansing Police Eliminate No-Knock Warrants
On Wednesday, the Lansing Police Department announced that it would change its policy to eliminate "No-Knock" search warrants. "No-Knock" warrants allow police to enter a building without knocking or announcing themselves in order to prevent suspects from destroying evidence or creating a dangerous situation, but their use creates dangerous and sometimes deadly situations. In the wake of Breonna Taylor's death and outcry from communities, some cities have begun to ban their use.
From the Lansing Police Department press release: "No-Knock search warrants are prohibited at LPD. Officers are required to announce their identity and purpose. Additionally, the LPD will not assist or participate in a search warrant execution with another law enforcement agency, whether state or federal, that is holding and/or desiring to execute a no-knock search warrant."
How COVID-19 Spreads at Swimming Pools
While there is no evidence that the virus that causes COVID-19 spreads through the water in swimming pools, getting closer than six feet from others while in a pool (or anywhere else) does pose a risk. Keep at least six feet of distance from anyone you don't live with no matter where you are, including pools. Touching handrails or sharing items like goggles, snorkels, and toys may also pose a risk.
Mosquitoes Do Not Spread COVID-19
Taken directly from the World Health Organization (WHO):
The COVID-19 virus CANNOT be spread through mosquito bites
To date there has been no information nor evidence to suggest that the new coronavirus could be transmitted by mosquitoes. The new coronavirus is a respiratory virus which spreads primarily through droplets generated when an infected person coughs or sneezes, or through droplets of saliva or discharge from the nose. To protect yourself, clean your hands frequently with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water. Also, avoid close contact with anyone who is coughing and sneezing.
Trump Administration Changes How COVID-19 Data Is Reported and Accessed
Beginning on Wednesday, July 15, 2020, the Trump administration changed where hospitals direct their COVID-19 related data and how the information is accessed. Prior to this change, hospitals were reporting their COVID-19-related data to the National Healthcare Safety Network Site, the CDC’s reporting site. Data is instead now to be sent to a Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS)-run system, which is managed by a health data firm named TeleTracking. If hospitals have been reporting to their state databases, however, they can continue doing so.
The change, however, brings about many issues. For one, the new reporting criteria comes as a surprise to many hospitals, and these hospitals will need to adapt to these changes to be able to report on COVID-19. Also, the new system is reportedly not available in certain states and hospital systems, adding another barrier to crucial data reporting. For example, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services put out a notice, stating that they had to halt data reporting while the transition is occurring. This comes as cases continue to surge throughout the country. There are also concerns of politicizing the data as well as issues of transparency. Although those involved with the change state that the goal is to streamline the data collection process and that accuracy and transparency will remain, many state that the CDC is still the most appropriate entity to collect and report data, despite having had issues with data collection throughout the pandemic, such as frequent changes to reporting criteria. Currently, the CDC, which originally withdrew their data due to this change, was told by the DHHS to repost the data. Their COVID-19 data website now has the following message:
“IMPORTANT: Data displayed on this page was submitted directly to CDC’s National Healthcare Safety Network (NHSN) and does not include data submitted to other entities contracted by or within the federal government.”
As of now, it is still not clear how the data will be accessed, how or if this will improve data collection, and how transparent the DHHS will be with this data, raising issues about how people can trust data based on this disruptive change amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
Trump Administration Strips C.D.C. of Control of Coronavirus Data: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/14/us/politics/trump-cdc-coronavirus.html
Coronavirus data has already disappeared after Trump administration shifted control from CDC: https://www.cnbc.com/2020/07/16/us-coronavirus-data-has-already-disappeared-after-trump-administration-shifted-control-from-cdc-to-hhs.html
With CDC Sidelined, Some States Lose Access To Timely COVID-19 Hospital Data: https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2020/07/17/892357733/with-cdc-pulled-off-data-collection-some-states-lose-access-to-covid-hospital-da?utm_campaign=npr&utm_source=facebook.com&utm_term=nprnews&utm_medium=social
New Diagnostic Materials for COVID-19 Symptoms on Dark Skin
A medical student in the United Kingdom has made a book detailing skin-related symptoms from COVID-19 in people of color (POC). COVID-19 skin symptoms, such as previously reported “COVID toes,” present differently in POC, and the book is an effort to try to identify how these symptoms present in POC, to aid medical providers and patients in diagnosis. Historically, in the United States, dermatology (skin specialist) research has been done primarily on White people, and diagnostic information is therefore based on how illnesses and conditions present on light skin. This is a form of institutional racism, as common skin conditions such as melanoma — although more rare in POC compared with White people — are more frequently misdiagnosed by medical providers and have higher mortality rates for POC. There have been recent efforts to advance research into conditions in skin of color, including the founding of skinofcolorsociety.org and other organizations dedicated to advancing research and representation of people of color in skin research.
Proposal to Reduce Lansing Police Department Budget by 50%
A proposal to defund the Lansing Police Department by 50% over the next five years has been proposed by Brandon Betz, Lansing City Council Member for the 1st Ward. At Monday's City Council meeting, a large number of residents expressed support in public comments, while a few stated their opposition. The Council did not discuss the issue, but referred it to the committee on Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion for consideration. The city spends approximately $45 million out of its $140 million general fund on police (nearly one-third of the city budget). Critics, including Betz, note that only 5% of calls that the Lansing Police Department responds to are violent crime. Investing in communities can reduce or eliminate crime before it happens by addressing root causes (where police typically respond to crime after it occurs), and funds can be used to hire people better trained to respond to nonviolent situations.
HIV and COVID-19
Dr. Anthony Fauci of the Center for Disease Control (CDC) commented that there is “no clear evidence HIV heightens coronavirus risk” with respect to more severe HIV infections compared with those with controlled HIV infections. This is a bit puzzling on the surface, given COVID-19’s propensity for having higher infection and mortality rates in the elderly, and one of the reasons for this has been the elderly’s immunocompromised status. There hasn’t been a published research study that compares those with and without HIV and its effects on being infected and dying from COVID-19.
However, another study noted that HIV-positive people who were on antiretrovirals (these help control HIV infection) had less severe features of disease when infected with COVID-19 compared with HIV-positive people who were not on antiretrovirals.
At QM, we recommend HIV testing and methods of HIV prevention - including exploring PrEP, the medication that has been shown to prevent HIV. Lansing Area AIDS Network (LAAN) provides advising in both of these areas, according to their website http://www.laanonline.org/prevention/
CDC Employees Write Open Letter to Director Calling Out Racism and Discrimination
On June 30th, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) employees authored an open letter to Director Robert Redfield calling out the toxic culture of the organization. The letter called for the agency to address “ongoing and recurring acts of racism and discrimintation.”
The employees called for seven actionable changes:
Declare racism a public health crisis in the United States
Increase Black representation among senior leadership and diversify the talent pipeline for future leaders
Acknowledge and take immediate, direct action to address CDC’s toxic culture of exclusion and racial discrimintation
Dismantle the visible and invisible barriers to career advancement for Black employees
Move from talk to action by implementing policy changes that hold leaders and colleagues accountable for measurable change
Make implicit bias training and cultural sensitivity education mandatory for all staff
Resolve pending Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) cases of racial discrimintation
So far, the letter has garnered over 1,200 signatures from the 11,000 CDC employees - just under 10% of the workforce. Director Redfield received the letter and responded, indicating that the agency was committed to having a fair and equitable environment that encourages staff to address issues with leadership, but not answer the specific demands of the authors and signatories. The CDC has tried to diversify the agency’s staff, but many of those efforts have been underfunded and unsuccessful. Black individuals represent only 10% of leadership in the agency. The letter describes White employees being promoted based on relationships with management while stifling Black advancement and success. The authors state that the agency’s racist culture is undermining its mission to save lives and protect people from health threats. Failing to identify racism as a root cause of health inequities has led to the continuation of health disparities between racial groups.
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