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!
Ingham County Declares Racism a Public Health Crisis
This past Tuesday, the Ingham County Board of Commissioners unanimously declared racism a public health crisis, and has committed to reassess laws and policies "to promote health for Blacks within Ingham County," and will create an advisory board "to achieve community-centered solutions to address the legacy of racial injustices faced by Black communities." While the resolution is focused on Black individuals, it is expected that "it will have reverberating effects on all people," according to Commissioner Derrell Slaughter. This is a first step that will allow the county government and county agencies to change priorities, reallocate funds, and change policies.
Per the resolution (emphasis added):
"the Ingham County Board of Commissioners hereby declares racism as a public health crisis in the County of Ingham that affects all members of our society on a local (urban and rural), state, and national level and demands action from all levels of government and society."
"Ingham County is recommitting its full attention to improving the quality of life and health of our Black Ingham County residents"
"the Ingham County Board of Commissioners advocates for relevant policies that improve health in the Black community, and support local, state, and federal initiatives that advance social justice"
"Ingham County will assess our current and proposed laws (ordinances and health regulations) and our policies, as well as their implementation, to promote health for Blacks within Ingham County"
"Ingham County’s Health In All Policies Committee will assess internal policies and procedures to ensure racial equity is a core element in all organizational practices"
"the Ingham County Board of Commissioners shall create a broadly representative advisory board made up of Ingham County leaders, employees, and the community to achieve community-centered solutions to address the legacy of racial injustices faced by Black communities"
"[the] Board of Commissioners urges other governmental bodies to declare racism as a public health crisis and to immediately take steps to intentionally address and support methods that will strategically reduce the long-term impact of systemic racism."
"the Board of Commissioners requests that the County Clerk forward copies of this resolution to the Governor of the State of Michigan, Ingham County’s State Legislative delegation, the Michigan Association of Counties and local units of government within Ingham County"
ICHD Press Release and Resolution #20-254:
COVID-19 Is Not Gone
The change in stay-at-home orders does not equate to the pandemic being over, and there is a significant risk of a second spike in cases if precautions are not followed. We may be able to go out in public again now, but we may end up with another stay-at-home order if we act like the virus is gone. This is still a novel virus. This is why Queering Medicine and leading experts around the world believe that we cannot let our guard down in practicing safety measures. Keeping yourself and those around you safe is critical as we begin to be around more and more people. We cannot emphasize enough: Wear a mask! Strategies are being adjusted as more becomes available. Experts are still trying to make sense of the SARS COV2virus, COVID-19, and the pandemic. We cannot assume that if we are not sick we cannot transmit the virus. A key takeaway message is to avoid making the assumption that a person who looks healthy is not a carrier of the virus, has not been around others who are ill, and cannot spread the virus.
Where we stand as of June 13, 2020 (via https://www.michigan.gov/coronavirus):
Total Confirmed Cases in Michigan
Total COVID-19 Deaths in Michigan
Daily Confirmed Cases in Michigan
Daily COVID-19 Deaths in Michigan
Asymptomatic Transmission, the Achilles’ Heel of Current Strategies to Control Covid-19
Center for Disease Control:
WHO Supports Protest Even Amid Pandemic
While the World Health Organization has been pushing for social distancing measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19, the world’s leading health authority also recognizes the importance of the protests happening against structural and systemic racism. The WHO director, in a media briefing this week, said that the organization stands against discrimination of all kinds and supports the movement against racism. Public health has long acknowledged the impacts social conditions have on health, and fighting for health equity has been foundational in the field. Centuries of systemic racism has led to large health disparities between racial groups in the United States. There are concerns that protests and demonstrations could lead to an increase in COVID-19 cases, and public health officials recommend wearing masks, social distancing as much as possible, and not attending if you have COVID-19 symptoms or have tested positive. This week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released guidance for large gatherings and events - such as encouraging everyone to wash their hands or use hand sanitizer if handwashing is not available, encouraging face coverings and providing if possible, including regular messaging about every day protective measures and cleaning & disinfecting as much as possible.
Police Brutality: Rubber Bullets and Tear Gas
Some reports have continued to use language such as “non-lethal” or “less-than-lethal” to describe police weaponry. More accurate terminology would be “less lethal,” as these weapons were created with the intent to be less likely to kill the intended target, but are still capable of killing (and have all done so).
Several recent articles have highlighted the use of rubber bullets by the police against protestors. Rubber bullets are considered less lethal when used properly. They are intended to be skip-fired, which means they should be fired at the ground then bounce before impacting on a person. The impact is also supposed to be below the breast-line (chest-level or lower). In recent news police engagements with protesters, this has not been how rubber bullets have been used, as police have fired directly at protesters, and have directly targeted the head.
Various gases have also been used against protestors, primarily OC (Oeloresim Capsicm), also known as pepper spray, as well as CS gas, more commonly referred to as tear gas. Pepper spray is usually dispensed directly from a spray at somebody, as opposed to CS gas, which is usually in canisters that are launched into crowds before dispensing its contents. CS gas is also a solid, reacts with water on your skin, and causes burning soon after. CS gas is banned under the International Chemical Weapons Convention and has been since 1997 (i.e., it is banned in wars). It is not, however, banned for domestic use. Experts have stated that use of any gases and irritants can exacerbate pre-existing health conditions and induce coughing, which can increase the potential for COVID-19 transmission.
What this means:
“Less lethal” weapons, like rubber bullets, used by police are still potentially lethal, even when used as intended.
Rubber bullets are not designed to be fired directly at a person, and should not contact the head or neck.
Long-term complications can arise from their use, even if they are not lethal.
Police weapons can exacerbate pre-existing conditions, potentially leading to more harmful outcomes or even death.
Pepper spray and CS gas are different.
Tips on Dealing With Tear Gas:
Stay calm after exposure, and breathe slowly if possible.
Remove yourself from the contaminated area and find fresh air.
Do not rub your eyes or nose.
Remove any corrective lenses/contact lenses.
Flush your eyes with a lot of water. Do not use milk for eye flushing, as it may introduce bacteria into your eyes and cause infection.
How to flush eyes after exposure to gases (1 minute video): https://www.facebook.com/Savlenns/videos/10158568370194343/
Remove/change affected clothing to decrease prolonged exposure.
A Protestor’s Guide to “Less Lethal” Police Weaponry
CDC Guidelines on Riot Control Agents
Intenational Chemical Weapons Convention
Open Letter Advocating for an Anti-Racist Public Health Response to Demonstrations Against Systemic Injustice Occurring During the COVID-19 Pandemic
Do No Harm Coalition Street Medic Training
Rubber Bullets Can Be Deadly
“Defund the Police” Explained
When people are calling for defunding of police, they are calling to reduce budgetary spending for police departments. These funds would then be shifted to other areas such as mental health, education, or housing, which reduce the need for police by targeting the causes of crime (poverty, inequity, etc). Funds could also be redirected towards social workers and others better equipped to handle many of the calls that police currently respond to, and decriminalizing addiction and other health issues. Funding would be redirected to supporting communities instead of policing communities. Reduced spending on police departments would limit the scope of the police department. In the City of Lansing, the proposed budget for fiscal year 2020-2021 calls for 21% of the budget to be allocated for the police department. This is compared to 2% on human services and agency support, and 0% for neighborhood & citizen engagement.
When people are calling for abolishing the police, they are calling to completely disband or dismantle police departments. This would allow a reimagining of what public safety could look like. MPD150, a community organization in Minneapolis, states that people who respond to crises in communities should be the ones most equipped to handle them. This means having mental health providers, social workers, victim advocates, and other community members respond to emergency calls instead of police officers. Abolishing the police would help to change the culture of punishment that is rampant in the United States and put control back to the community. This would also allow budgetary funds to be redirected to other community services.
Trans Inclusion in Black Lives Matter
Black Lives Matter has explicitly supported and included trans people from its inception, and Elle Hearns, one of the co-founders of the network, is a trans woman. This support is consistently and constantly reaffirmed throughout the BLM website and social media channels, as well as in events organized by the network. Locally, Black Lives Matter Lansing has made multiple Facebook posts in the last week alone stating "Black Trans Lives Matter" and "Protect Black Trans Lives."
Black Queer and Trans Leaders
As we enter into the second week of Pride month, we want to recognize the importance that Black queer leaders have served in initiating and invigorating social change. Notably, Marsha P. Johnson and Zazu Nova have both been recognized as key influencers in the Stonewall Riots uprising in New York City in 1969, initiating the modern civil rights movement within the LGBTQ+ community, and both Black trans women were key in causing a weeklong series of demonstrations and marches. Marsha P. Johnson started the shelter STAR House for Black and Latino Trans adolescents.
Patrisse Cullors is another Black Queer leader and social change organizer through her work with the Black Lives Matter movement to fight for systemic racial justice and police accountability. In Los Angeles, she helped organize a grassroots effort to prevent a $3.5 billion jail expansion.
We want to lift up and call attention to Black queer leadership both today and historically, and the importance of community activism in creating social change. Their leadership is a model and inspiration to everyone working to create a more equitable, just, and better world.
Asymptomatic Spread of COVID-19: We Just Don’t Know.
This week, a representative of the World Health Organization (WHO) made an inaccurate claim that the spread of COVID-19 from an asymptomatic person is “rare.” A statement was later released by the WHO clarifying that what they meant was that the frequency of transmission from an asymptomatic individual is not well understood. This has created some confusion, and can lead to a false sense of security.
What we know:
Directly from the Center for Disease Control (CDC): The virus that causes COVID-19 is thought to spread mainly from person to person directly through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs. Spread is more likely when people are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet).
A person can shed the virus even when they have not yet developed symptoms.
A person who is asymptomatic can eventually develop symptoms.
There is evidence that a person who is not ill with SARS-CoV-2 can be a carrier, though more research is needed.
Respiratory droplets are the primary mode of transmission for the virus that causes COVID-19.
Wearing a mask can reduce the spread of the virus (masks need to cover both mouth and nose).
“Community spread,” according to the CDC, means people have been infected with the virus in a geographic area, including some who are not sure how or where they became infected.
WHO clarifies comments on asymptomatic spread of Covid-19
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