May 10, 2020: Roundup & Myth Busting
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!
CLAIM: COVID-19 Was Created in a Lab. (FALSE)
Political leaders have made claims that there is evidence that COVID-19 is “manmade” or has been genetically modified by a lab in Wuhan, China.
The virus has been intensely studied and the scientific consensus is that the virus was transmitted naturally from bats, eventually mutating along the way to become infectious to humans. This is supported by:
Consensus of epidemiologists world-wide
US Director of National Intelligence
The US intelligence community will continue to investigate any new information or intelligence.
“Plandemic” Conspiracy Theory Video
“Plandemic” is a widely discredited conspiracy theory video being shared on the Internet that makes a range of false and misleading claims about COVID-19. It is not a source of valid information about the virus. There are many excellent articles and posts on social media that debunk the video’s claims in detail that you can consult to learn more. Our recommendation continues to be that folks seek out factual information from credible sources. Always ask the questions: where is this coming from? Is the person/organization/ news source reliable? Is this backed by evidence?
"Seen 'Plandemic'? We Take A Close Look At The Viral Conspiracy Video's Claims" - NPR: https://www.npr.org/2020/05/08/852451652/seen-plandemic-we-take-a-close-look-at-the-viral-conspiracy-video-s-claims
"If You Found That ‘Plandemic’ Video Convincing, Read This Too" - Lifehacker: https://vitals.lifehacker.com/if-you-found-that-plandemic-video-convincing-read-th-1843339002
"'Plandemic' Is Dangerous, Viral Nonsense"- Vice: https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/93597a/plandemic-viral-nonsense-judi-mikovits-plague-of-corruption
Women and People of Color are the Frontline
We are continuously grateful to all our Frontline Heroes. Lansing and Ingham county continue to flatten the curve because of the dedicated and hardworking people of the community. “Essential” workers have been sustaining us well before the pandemic, and it is now even more clear just how critical workers in the grocery and healthcare sectors, building and cleaning services, social services, public transit, and delivery and warehouse roles are to our communities. According to the Associated Press (AP) women and minorities bear the brunt of the pandemic frontline as they comprise the majority of the “Essential” worker workforce. The AP has created an interactive tool taken from census data that highlights the demographics of the “Essential” workforce. Here are some highlights from the article
More than 60% of warehouse and delivery workers in most cities are people of color, a figure that rises to more than 95% in Newark.
In most cities, more than 40% are white, 15% are black and 14% are Hispanic. At least 16% live below the federal poverty line and 15% lack health insurance.
More than 85% of warehouse and delivery workers in the Los Angeles area are people of color and 53% are foreign-born.
Janitors are the most financially vulnerable front-line workers. In most cities, more than a quarter live below the poverty line. More than 40% are foreign-born and 74% are people of color.
About 75% of health care workers in most cities are women. They are among the front-line workers most likely to have access to health insurance, although 7% lack it. And more than 8% live below the federal poverty line.
Helpful Link: https://apnews.com/029ea874dc964697358016d3628429fa
People working in-person (and those that they live with) are at higher risk of contracting the virus that causes COVID-19, since they can't effectively isolate. As the AP has demonstrated, people of color and women are therefore at higher risk from the virus as they make up the majority of our frontline.
Duration and Long-Term Impacts of COVID-19 Infections
CLAIM: Viral infection and COVID-19 symptoms may be long-lasting and have long-term effects.
Verdict: MIXED. Long-term symptoms, infection, and effects are possible but require further investigation. Always follow guidelines for your individual case from your health care provider.
Duration: Most individuals infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 will see their symptoms go away within approximately 14 days from the start of symptom onset. The duration of viral infection varies amongst cases but infection has been reported lasting in individuals up to 2 months after initial detection. The outcomes for all individuals vary in duration and severity. There are many symptoms of COVID-19 that are due to the body’s inflammatory response. There is also a lot of research on viruses that trigger an inflammatory response similar to the one produced by the virus causing COVID-19. For example, acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDs) is a symptom of COVID-19 and previous research suggests individuals with inflammation leading to ARDs may take up to six months to gain full lung functionality after the infection has gone away. Regardless of COVID-19 symptom duration, the World Health Organization recommends individuals remain isolated for an additional two weeks after the viral infection is over. This may seem to be an issue for preventing the spread of the virus but we know social distancing and other suggested safety measures are reducing the number of new COVID-19 cases. These measures should be followed until experts determine that it is safe to end them.
Effects: Research on COVID-19 and the virus causing it is still emerging because the disease and virus are new. So, it is possible that COVID-19 leads to other long-term health effects, but it will take time to conduct research to determine that. Emerging data suggests that long-term effects may include lung damage, stroke and blood clotting issues, heart damage, and cognitive and mental health impacts. These issues have been connected to those with COVID-19 infections but have not been directly connected to the virus. Current data suggests COVID-19 infections and the virus have widespread effects on the body (inflammation), some of which are related to the possible long-term issues. Other long-term effects are based on disease symptoms, the traumatic effects of a pandemic, and findings from similar viruses. We will highlight data specific to the virus causing COVID-19 as it becomes available.
No Evidence That People Can’t Get COVID-19 Multiple Times
World Health Organization (WHO): “There is currently no evidence that people who have recovered from COVID-19 and have antibodies are protected from a second infection.”
There is a very good chance that it does, but we just don’t have the evidence yet; current government plans to re-open assume it’s true, though, and this statement from the WHO reminds us that we don’t have evidence to support that yet. Even if it does confer immunity, we don’t know how strong the immunity is and how long it lasts.
Despite studies that patients in active COVID-19 infection are being treated with sera containing antibodies from people who recovered from COVID-19 illness, there is no clear evidence that previous infection with COVID-19 prevents a second infection in individuals. Health experts are widely advising that people who tested positive for COVID-19 not resume “normal” activities and continue to practice social distancing and other preventative precautions. According to a recent WHO report, reasons that such a sweeping statement cannot be made include uncertainty over potential false readings from antibody testing, in addition to the role that cellular versus antibody-mediated immunity could play in defending someone from COVID-19. There has been more positive evidence related to antibody protection helping prevent COVID-19 reinfection, including a recent published study showing that COVID-19 reinfection did not occur in a small study on rhesus monkeys. To that end, the WHO mentioned that scientific evidence will continue to be evaluated as more studies emerge on this issue. However, there’s not currently enough data or evidence to conclusively say that individuals who recovered from COVID-19 could not be reinfected. It is important to note that this does not mean that immunity is not developed, but rather that we cannot yet be certain that it does, and therefore should not make decisions based on the assumption that it does.
WHO Scientific Brief: https://www.who.int/news-room/commentaries/detail/immunity-passports-in-the-context-of-covid-19
News Coverage: https://www.cnn.com/2020/04/25/us/who-immunity-antibodies-covid-19/index.html
"Reinfection Could Not Occur in Sars-cov-2 Infected Rhesus Macaques": https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.03.13.990226v1
Michigan’s Stay-At-Home Order Extended; Manufacturing Reopening
On May 7, 2020, Governor Whitmer extended Michigan's stay-at-home order through May 28th. The order also allows many manufacturing workers to return to work starting May 11th, so long as the facilities they work at adopt certain measures to protect workers:
"That includes conducting a daily entry screening protocol for workers and everyone else entering the facility, including a questionnaire covering symptoms and exposure to people with possible COVID-19, together with a temperature screening as soon as no-touch thermometers can be obtained. They must also create dedicated entry points at every facility, and suspend entry of all non-essential in-person visits, including tours."
"Manufacturing facilities must also train workers on, among other things, how COVID-19 is transmitted from person to person, signs and symptoms of COVID-19, steps workers must take to notify the business or operation of signs and symptoms of COVID-19 or suspected or confirmed diagnosis, and the use of personal protective equipment."
"All businesses in the state—including manufacturers—must require masks to be worn when workers cannot consistently maintain six feet of separation from others, and consider face shields for those who cannot consistently maintain three feet of separation from other workers.”
Executive Order 77: https://www.michigan.gov/whitmer/0,9309,7-387-90499_90705-528460--,00.html
Michigan Has the Highest COVID-19 Death Rate in the US
According to a recent article, Michigan has the highest COVID-19 death rate in the US. The article, published on May 1, 2020, stated that Michigan had a death rate of 9.13%. To clarify, based on the data used in this article, they are referring to the case fatality rate of COVID-19. This refers to the number of people who have died from causes associated with COVID-19 out of the total number of people with confirmed COVID-19 infections. The latest data from Michigan.gov states that the statewide case fatality rate is approximately 10%. The numbers, however, vary by state and nationwide for a variety of reasons, a primary reason being that each state may count their COVID-19 related deaths differently. For example, based on the data out of New York state, the case fatality rate of deaths due to confirmed COVID-19 cases is approximately 8.16% as of May 9, 2020. Once you include probable deaths due to COVID-19, however, the case fatality rate is approximately 11.15%. Similarly, the CDC has data submitted by each jurisdiction of each state, and Michigan has reported 2,529 COVID-19 deaths from February 1, 2020 until May 2, 2020. When combining cases of pneumonia, influenza, and COVID-19, that number is reported to be 4,660, much closer to the reported number of COVID-19 related deaths that Michigan.gov reports. Depending on how the case fatality rate is counted and reported will affect where the state stands in terms of COVID-19 related deaths. Regardless, Michigan currently does have one of the highest COVID-19 related case fatality rates in the country. Another critical factor is the amount of testing being conducted. If a significant number of non-fatal cases of COVID-19 are never verified by testing, the death rate will appear to be higher.
Several factors also contribute to the continued number of positive cases in Michigan. One is the increased capacity for testing in the state. Another factor is how the disease continues to spread. Anecdotally, it seems as though more rural areas are being hit, as well as nursing homes, long-term care facilities, and jails/prisons. Increased testing in shelters, nursing homes, and testing of essential workers has contributed to the consistent number of positive cases in conjunction with the increased capacity for testing. These positive cases have been related to primary risks including: household contact with a confirmed case, exposure to group settings such as being a resident in a long-term care facility or in jail/prison, as well as employment as a healthcare worker with consistent risk of exposure. Regions of the state that had initially seen very low numbers of cases are rising, unlike counties such as Wayne County and other areas hit harder earlier in the epidemic, which is seeing a small decline in the number of cases. To be clear, a region having a declining number of cases does not mean it's now safe to eliminate protective measures and end the stay-at-home order. QM believes it's even more critical that we stay vigilant, we stay committed to social distancing, and take protective measures as we begin to lift some restrictions and consider the best ways to phase out stay-at-home orders.
Help Links & Additional Data
Michigan has highest COVID-19 death rate in US
“Six weeks into extreme social distancing, how are Michiganders still catching coronavirus?”
Table 2: Deaths involving coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), pneumonia, and influenza reported to NCHS by jurisdiction of occurrence, United States. Week ending 2/1/2020 to 5/2/2020.
As noted in the table, the data during this period are incomplete because of the lag in time between when the death occurred and when the death certificate is completed, submitted to NCHS, and processed for reporting purposes. This delay can range from 1 week to 8 weeks or more, depending on the jurisdiction, age, and cause of death.
Michigan COVID-19 Data
Case fatality rate: 10%
The case fatality rate is the number of people who have died from causes associated with COVID-19 out of the total number of people with confirmed COVID-19 infections. It is used as one measure of illness severity. Several factors can affect this number. Until recently, COVID-19 lab testing has prioritized for hospitalized individuals due to limited testing availability. As a result, COVID-19 infections were identified more often in people who were more severely ill. This would lead to a higher case fatality rate. As more people with mild illness are tested, it is likely the case fatality rate will go down.
New York COVID-19 Data
New York reporting shows how case fatality rate can depend on how it is reported
Confirmed COVID-19 related deaths = 8.16% case fatality rate
When combined with probable COVID-19 related deaths, this number jumps to 11.15%
A cat that recently died in Barcelona, Spain is the 6th animal worldwide that tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19). There is consensus, however, that the cat did not die from the virus or issues related to it, as there was a more severe, underlying medical condition separate from COVID-19 (i.e., it had the virus when it died, but the virus did not cause its death). There is still no evidence that pets can transmit the virus to humans, but guidelines remain the same: Pets and pet owners should adhere to social distancing measures. Proper hygiene with regards to handling pets should still be practiced. If you have been exposed to the virus or know you have COVID-19, current recommendations state that you should refrain from interacting with your pets. While there is not currently evidence that the virus can kill pets, it may impact their health. We will continue to update on this topic as more evidence surfaces.
A Cat from Barcelona in Spain is only the Sixth in the world to die with Coronavirus :
Spain Records its First Case of a Cat with Coronavirus
CDC COVID-19 and Animals website:
Updated as of April 30, 2020, with interim guidance links added: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/animals.html
Evaluation for SARS-CoV-2 Testing in Animals
Routine testing is not recommended
The decision to test an animal (including companion animals, livestock, and wild or zoo animals) should be agreed upon using a One Health approach between appropriate local, state, and/or federal public health and animal health officials.
This document provides recommendations to guide priorities for animal SARS-CoV-2 testing given limited resources: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/php/animal-testing.html
Veterinarians are strongly encouraged to rule out other, more common causes of illness in animals before considering SARS-CoV-2 testing
CDC “If You Have Pets and COVID-19” Website (Updated as of April 30, 2020)
What to do if you own pets:
Do not let pets interact with people or other animals outside the household.
Keep cats indoors when possible to prevent them from interacting with other animals or people.
Walk dogs on a leash, maintaining at least 6 feet (2 meters) from other people and animals.
Avoid dog parks or public places where a large number of people and dogs gather.
Protect your pets if you are sick with COVID-19
When possible, have another member of your household care for your pets while you are sick.
Avoid contact with your pet including, petting, snuggling, being kissed or licked, and sharing food or bedding.
If you must care for your pet or be around animals while you are sick, wear a cloth face covering and wash your hands before and after you interact with them.
If you are sick with COVID-19 and your pet gets sick, do not bring your pet into the vet yourself
Stay healthy if you are around animals
Wash your hands after handling animals, their food, waste, or supplies.
Practice good pet hygiene and clean up after pets properly.
Talk to your veterinarian if you have questions about your pet’s health.
Be aware that children 5 years of age and younger, people with weakened immune systems, and people 65 years of age and older are more likely to get sick from germs some animals can carry.
What does this mean for the public, how should you use this new information:
Proper hygiene practices around pet/animals still stand and remain the same
Pets and pet owners should adhere to social distancing measures
If you are sick with COVID-19, avoid interacting with your pet and have somebody else in the household take care of your pet, if possible
If you must continue to care for your pet, wear a cloth mask if possible when doing so and wash your hands before and after caring for your pet
Queer Suicide Prevention Support
COVID-19’s impacts, including physical distancing, economic strain, and new worries about the present and future may increase the risk of depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and suicide among LGBTQ+ youth.
LGBTQ+ youth that are thinking about suicide and in need of immediate support can call, text, or chat with counselors at the Trevor Project. Counselors are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week:
Phone (TrevorLifeline): 1-866-488-7386
Text (TrevorText): Text START to 678678
Chat (TrevorChat): https://www.thetrevorproject.org/get-help-now/
“Founded in 1998 by the creators of the Academy Award®-winning short film TREVOR, The Trevor Project is the leading national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer & questioning (LGBTQ) young people under 25.”
QM Mythbusters (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
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