June 28, 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!
COVID-19 Cases on the Rise
Poor decision-making by people around the state and country is causing another surge of COVID-19 cases that is killing thousands and may force a return to stay-at-home orders and shutdowns. The end of the stay-at-home order in Michigan came with the requirement that people wear masks and practice social distancing, but a significant percentage of the population have increasingly ignored those necessities in favor of returning to a more relaxed "normal" (i.e., pre-COVID-19 behaviors). This attitude is dangerous, self-centered, and short-sighted. Several weeks ago, it seemed like COVID-19 was under control and we had successfully "flattened the curve" in most states that had taken precautions, but most states are now seeing an increase in cases, and the US has had multiple record-setting days for the number of new reported COVID-19 infections in the past week. This increase is not just due to an increase in testing - states are seeing a greater percentage of tests come back positive (for example, while Texas doubled the number of tests conducted over the last month, the number of positive results in the state nearly tripled, and Florida actually conducted 22% fewer tests, but saw a 341% increase in positive cases).
COVID-19 cases are on the rise in Michigan again, with the last week seeing multiple days with larger increases in daily cases than have been seen in a month. Locally, an outbreak resulting from crowds visiting the reopened Harper's Restaurant in East Lansing has now reached 85 cases, and that number may continue to rise. On Friday, Texas shut bars, reduced restaurant capacity, and limited public gatherings for a second time and Florida stopped alcohol service in bars to try to contain the resurgent pandemic, and Michigan could follow suit if people don't change their behavior quickly. Governor Whitmer has already pushed back plans to reopen additional businesses in the state in response to the increase in cases, and indicated a return to prior restrictions in Michigan (e.g., stay-at-home order, closed businesses) is "very possible."
It is important to note that Black Lives Matter, anti-racism, and anti-police protests have not been linked to increases in cases. The increase in cases has instead been linked to social activities (hanging out with friends and family, eating at restaurants, going to bars and parties, etc.) and work activities (having a job that brings you near coworkers or other people) where people are not consistently wearing masks and practicing social distancing.
WLNS: "Skubick: Whitmer says climbing COVID-19 concerns could lead to more restrictions"
WXYZ: "Website: Michigan no longer on track to contain COVID-19"
Axios: "The coronavirus surge is real, and it's everywhere"
WILX: “UPDATE: Harper's COVID-19 outbreak reaches 85 cases”
Click On Detroit: "65 coronavirus (COVID-19) cases now linked to outbreak at East Lansing bar"
New York Times: "Coronavirus in the U.S.: Latest Map and Case Count"
Texas Tribune: "Gov. Greg Abbott orders Texas bars to close again and restaurants to reduce to 50% occupancy as coronavirus spreads"
CNN: "US reports highest number of new coronavirus cases in a single day"
New York Post: "BLM protests have not led to a spike in coronavirus cases: study "
NPR: "Parties - Not Protests - Are Causing Spikes In Coronavirus"
ProPublica: "No, President Trump, Testing Is Not Causing Case Counts to Rise. The Virus Is Just Spreading Faster."
Black Medicare Patients with COVID-19 Nearly 4 Times As Likely to End Up in Hospital
Recently released Federal data continues to highlight how the COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately affected Black communities. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services published a preliminary COVID-19 Data Snapshot which included the total number of COVID-19 cases amongst Medicare Beneficiaries as well as hospitalizations. From January 1st to May 16, 2020, the rate of hospitalizations due to COVID-19 amongst Black people enrolled in Medicare was 465 hospitalizations per 100,000 people, almost 4 times more than White people, which was 123 hospitalizations per 100,000 people. Rates of hospitalizations amongst other communities of color were notable as well, as Hispanics were more than twice as likely to be hospitalized, and Asian Americans were about 50% more likely to be hospitalized, when both groups were compared to White people. Although the reports state that it is possible not all Medicare claims have been filed for that time frame, this still highlights the disparities in healthcare, particularly for Black communities and other communities of color. The disproportionate numbers of BIPOC receiving Medicare that end up in the hospital due to COVID-19 highlights flaws in our healthcare systems and overall society. Racism has a variety of systematic and structural impacts that result in BIPOC having worse health outcomes than White people in the United States.
As such, we want to continue to amplify the voices of Black folks, such as the call to action below:
Aabria Iyengar 🖤 @quiddie (https://twitter.com/quiddie/status/1270796059074129920):
“Here’s a call to action for would-be allies: Keep wearing that face mask every moment you’re in public & without complaint until a vaccine is found. Doing so protects essential workers (often PoC) & limits our exposure to a medical system rife w/ bias that can be deadly for us.”
“The fact is, Black and Brown populations have been disproportionately affected by Covid-19. So if you believe #BlackLivesMatter , protect Black life. Wear a mask.”
By wearing masks and continuing to adhere to social distancing measures, we can continue to protect our most vulnerable communities.
Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services COVID-19 Snapshot Data
COVID-19 Antibodies Can Disappear After 2-3 Months, Study Shows
A recent study out of China showed that COVID-19 antibodies in both asymptomatic carriers and symptomatic patients decreased significantly within 2-3 months after being infected. The study, however, was small, as only 74 people were included.
More research is needed in this area, as this could have significant implications for antibody testing and long-term immunity. The authors of the publication also emphasize that this initial data supports the continuation of public health interventions such as social distancing, hygiene procedures, isolation of high-risk groups, and widespread testing, until more information is gathered. They also state that this could mean the idea of “immunity passports” (the idea that labeling people as being immune to COVID-19 and therefore “safe”) could pose risks until more is understood.
COVID-19 Antibodies May Disappear In As Little As Two Months, According To New Study
Movement 4 Black Lives (M4BL) - Vision for Black Lives
The Movement 4 Black Lives (M4BL) was created in 2014 to work across Black-led organizations to achieve key policy, cultural, and political wins. In 2016, M4BL launched the Vision for Black Lives, a comprehensive policy agenda that was endorsed by over 50 Black-led organizations. This past week, M4BL launched the new Vision for Black Lives 2020, backed by over 170 Black-led organizations. M4BL will be rolling out the details of 6 different planks of updated policy briefs through the course of 2020. Vision for Black Lives centers Black LGBTQIA+ and disabled individuals’ experiences.
The first plank of the policy agenda is End the War on Black People. This plank was released on Juneteenth and calls for resistance to police- and state-sanctioned violence. This demands an end to state-sponsored surveillance, criminalization, incarceration, detention, deportation, and killing of Black people, and specifically includes trans, gender nonconforming, and intersex people.
The specific demands in this plank are:
End the war on Black youth
End the war on Black communities
End the war on Black women
End the war on Black trans, gender nonconforming, and intersex people
End the war on Black health and Black disabled people
End the war on Black migrants
End all jails, prisons, and immigration detention
End the death penalty
End the war on drugs
End the surveillance of Black communities
End pretrial detention and money bail
End militarization of law enforcement
End the use of past criminal history
For more information on each policy demand visit: https://m4bl.org/policy-platforms/
Allyship Protocol for Black-led Demonstrations
Black Lives Matter Michigan has shared suggestions for non-Black allies to show up in solidarity and support the safety of Black people at protests.
📷 Don’t take pictures of faces.
Always ask. Identifiable protestors may face repercussions. Avoid turning your participation into a performance for social media.
📣 Follow chants only.
Amplify Black voices. You are not needed to lead calls.
🚧 Be a physical barrier.
Use your privilege to keep space between Black folks and police. You are much less likely to face harm.
🗣️ Don’t tone police Black protestors.
Do not minimize their experiences.
🚔 Don’t provoke or antagonize the police.
Remain calm and keep your emotions in check.
✏️ If someone is arrested…
Document the encounter with police and ask for the person’s name and birthday to help locate them later.
💬 Stay on message.
Uplift BLM MI and Lansing’s demands: 1) Defund the police, 2) Invest in Black lives, 3) Resign Trump, 4) Resign Andy, and 5) Black Lives Matter
📄 Follow directions.
Respect Black leaders’ authority and decision-making. If they ask you to do something, do it.
🧃 Be helpful.
Recognize that the work of Black leadership is draining. Hand out snacks and water to keep protestors fed and hydrated.
👥 Stay in the back, until called forward.
Don’t center yourself in the space. Come to the front if called, and form a human chain if necessary to protect Black people.
BLM Lansing Demands
Black Lives Matter (BLM) Lansing has articulated four demands:
Defund Police: “We demand the police be defunded because they have never protected Black people. There is huge difference between policing and public safety.”
Invest In The Black Community: “We demand reinvestment in what our communities actually need -- safety infrastructures created with the community, quality health and wellness, educational opportunities, great jobs that support families, and good, affordable housing.”
Resign Andy Schor: “Andy Schor has failed to defend Black lives and keep the Black community safe. He has made empty promises to make changes that would uphold racial equity and has initiated a war on Black people with LPD spray tear gas into peaceful protesters.”
Resign Donald Trump: “Donald Trump has normalized dangerously divisive and racist leadership. Trump has abandoned the basic duties of the executive office during a pandemic. We have lost our jobs and livelihoods. Over 100,000 people in this country have died needlessly.”
These demands are critical to changing the culture of racism in Lansing and throughout the United States; and would reduce or eliminate the scourge of anti-Black police brutality; improve health, well-being, and resources in Black communities; and remove leaders who endanger the Black community. Those looking for information about BLM Lansing's positions are encouraged to go directly to BLM Lansing's website, Facebook page, and Twitter. Mayor Schor's performance during BLM Lansing's "In Defense of Black Lives Call to Action" on June 3rd is a must-watch for Lansing residents unsure about why his resignation is being demanded (the first half-hour focuses on the Ingham County Health Department declaring racism a public health crisis, and pivots to focus on Mayor Schor at around the 35 minute mark).
BLM Lansing Website:
BLM Lansing Facebook:
BLM Lansing Twitter:
BLM Lansing's "In Defense of Black Lives Call to Action" video:
Dexamethasone: First Potentially Life-Saving COVID-19 Drug
A study run by the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom has shown the steroid dexamethasone reduces mortality rates in high-risk COVID-19 patients. The study, which is testing previously suggested treatments for COVID-19, looked at 2,000 hospital patients who were given dexamethasone and compared with over 4,000 hospital patients who were not given the drug. For patients on ventilators, it cut the risk of death from 40% to 28%. For patients needing oxygen, it cut the risk of death from 25% to 20%. This translates into 1 in every 8 patients on a ventilator being saved and 1 in every 20-25 patients on oxygen being saved. The drug does not seem to be helping those with a milder case of coronavirus. This is the first drug proven to reduce mortality from COVID-19, so it is a major breakthrough in coronavirus treatment. Dexamethasone has been used to treat a range of conditions, including arthritis, asthma, and rheumatoid arthritis. Side effects can include changes in appetite, agitation, changes in mood, blurred vision, headaches, dizziness, and tingling in arms and legs. Individuals with chronic diseases are more likely to develop side effects from dexamethasone, but overall, side effects are rare. This is a relatively safe, affordable, and available drug. The lead researcher said that hospital patients should be given this drug without delay, when appropriate. The U.K. will be making the drug available to patients and has taken steps to ensure supplies in the event of a second wave. While this is a major breakthrough, this is not a cure and will not prevent severe damage or death in all people. Wearing a mask, washing hands, and social distancing are still the best ways to reduce the spread of COVID.
Viral airborne and droplet transmission, what does that mean?
There are three things that are necessary for an infection to occur: You need a source (where germs live), a susceptible person (whether immunocompromised or not, we are all susceptible), and transmission (how germs move to the susceptible person).
In the case of the virus that causes COVID-19, we know that transmission is mainly person-to-person via respiratory droplets. What does that mean? A respiratory droplet is a small aqueous droplet (mostly saliva or mucus) that is produced when someone breathes, talks, sneezes, coughs, and vomits. These droplets can carry the virus that causes COVID-19 and infect another person if it makes direct contact with mucous membranes (eyes, nose, or mouth). These droplets typically do not travel more than six feet because gravity pulls them down. This is the reasoning behind social distancing and mask wearing. Social distancing reduces the chance that infected droplets, or “viral ubers,” reaches you. Proper mask wearing helps prevent infected droplets from traveling too far whenever you sneeze.
What about the virus being airborne? The research community has been divided over the issue of whether the virus that causes COVID-19 could be transmitted through an airborne route. Airborne transmission occurs with particles smaller than droplets. These smaller particles can remain in the air over time and distance. As of yet, long-range airborne transmission of the virus that causes COVID-19 has not clearly been documented. What does this all mean to you? Continue to practice social distancing, proper mask wearing, timely handwashing, and covering your mouth and nose whenever you cough or sneeze.
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