November 1, 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!
Voter Suppression Across the United States
Voter suppression has occurred across the history of the United States. From not allowing women to vote, to enacting grandfather laws and poll taxes to limit BIPOC voting rights, it should not be a surprise that voter suppression is continuing in the 2020 election and that current tactics are largely aimed at areas with a higher Black population and at people (including trans and nonbinary people and BIPOC) who are less likely to have a Driver’s License or to have an ID that matches the name they use and their gender presentation.
In Georgia, polling location shut-downs have increased lines to vote, especially in Black communities. The state has a law that caps 2,000 voters per polling place, but it is rarely enforced. In the June primary, there were some locations with upwards of 17,000 voters registered. The amount of voters registered per location has increased since 2012 due to shut-downs and an increase in voter registration in the state. There has been a rush to implement more voting locations before the November 3rd election, but the problem is far from being solved. Under the Voting Rights Act of 1965, Georgia and eight other states with a history of discrimintation and voter suppression had to receive approval from the federal government before closing or shifting polling locations. Unfortunately, in 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court voted that the act was unconstitutional because it was outdated. Congress has not been able to reach an agreement on new guidelines, therefore no federal oversight has been in place since 2013. While Georgia’s Secretary of State attempted to push legislation that would expand polling places and resources, it was not passed by the legislature. Opponents say that it would push more work on to counties without the necessary resources to support the change. The state is hoping that early voting will help to reduce long lines on November 3rd.
In Alabama, the Supreme Court restored a ban on curbside voting. A lower court in the state instituted curbside voting to keep those at high risk for COVID-19 safe while exercising their right to vote. Republicans in the state argued curbside voting could possibly increase voter fraud. Now, voters must wait in line to vote in a state that does not require face coverings - potentially increasing their risk of exposure, and some people may not vote in order to protect themself from the pandemic.
In Arkansas, more than 100,000 absentee ballots have been returned. The governor allowed COVID-19 to be a reason for requesting an absentee ballot, but the state does not require an explanation about why the ballot has been returned.
While these are just a few examples of voter suppression in the United States, they are not the only ones. Voter suppression is not the only thing that could keep people away from the polls: voter intimidation is too. Here in Michigan, a judge declined Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson’s directive that banned open carry of firearms at the polls. In multiple states, people have been told to remove their Black Lives Matter clothing or accessories before voting, even though Black Lives Matter gear is not against the law. One poll worker in Tennessee was fired for instituting this policy at a poll. In Florida, two armed security guards were reported outside an early voting location. The two individuals said they were hired by Donald Trump’s campaign, but the campaign says differently. Regardless, having armed individuals outside of a polling location can make voters leery. While many people are voting early across the United States and places have seen the largest voter turnout in history, voter suppression and intimidation tactics are still barriers to voting in this country and needed to be solved.
Guide to Voting for Trans Folx
With increasingly stricter voter ID laws, trans folks may face difficulties exercising their right to vote at the polls. These barriers may include trouble getting a valid ID,running into prejudice due to one’s gender identity, or having an ID with incorrect or outdated gender or name information. In this momentous 2020 election, it’s critical that everyone has their voices heard. Transform The Vote has provided a helpful guide for “Voting While Trans”.
If ID is required in your state, bring it. It is also helpful to bring your voter registration card, a utility bill showing the address where you are registered, additional records that show who you are, or your legal name change paperwork if you had one.
If poll workers question your identity or eligibility to vote, show them the utility bill and the #VotingWhileTrans one-pager (https://transformthevote.org/voting-resources). Gender discrepancies on ID are not a valid reason to deny a regular ballot.
If you are still not allowed to vote, look for a volunteer attorney at the polling place who may be there assisting voters who are being told they cannot vote.
If no one is around, call the National Election Protection Hotline at 866-OUR-VOTE (866-687-8683) for help
If you are still not allowed to vote on a regular ballot, request a provisional ballot and ask for follow-up instructions.
If you have any questions about the voting process, look for your state on https://866ourvote.org/
Michigan COVID-19 Rules Extended and Expanded
On Thursday, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) updated and extended its emergency order requiring masks be worn in public spaces, limiting gathering, and restricting businesses in order to manage the COVID-19 pandemic. The initial emergency order was set to expire on October 30th (for details, see our original summary on October 11th [link]), and the revised order "remains in effect until rescinded."
The limit on the maximum gathering size for indoor events (with appropriate safety precautions) has been reduced to 50 people. The prior limit was 500 people.
Individual tables in indoor spaces of restaurants, bars, and events are now limited to no more than six people.
Penalties for violating epidemic orders have been set at a civil fine of up to $1,000 and can also be "treated as a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment for not more than six months or a fine of not more than $200, or both."
Starting November 2nd, restaurants, bars, recreation and exercise facilities (including sports arenas), indoor entertainment facilities (including cinemas and concert halls), and a variety of other businesses (including hairdressers, tattoo parlors, and tanning and massage providers) are required to keep records of the name, contact information, and date/time of entry of all visitors/customers in order to facilitate contact tracing in case it is determined that someone at the facility had COVID-19. If a person refuses to provide their name and phone number, they must be denied entry.
"MDHHS Extends Emergency Orders in Continued Effort to Contain Spread of COVID-19" https://www.michigan.gov/coronavirus/0,9753,7-406-98158-543721--,00.html
"Gatherings and Face Mask Order" https://www.michigan.gov/coronavirus/0,9753,7-406-98178_98455-543708--,00.html
"MDHHS extends emergency orders, requires bars to log patrons" https://statenews.com/article/2020/10/mdhhs-extends-emergency-orders
Lawsuit Against Lansing Police for Killing Unarmed Man in City Jail
Earlier this week, a wrongful death lawsuit was filed against Lansing police officers and the City of Lansing for the death of Anthony Hulon while in police custody. Video shows that four officers forcibly pinned Hulon down on the floor in Lansing City Jail while he was handcuffed, preventing him from breathing. He repeatedly said "I can't breathe" and the Ingham County Medical Examiner ruled the death a homicide. The officers were initially placed on paid leave, but are back at work. City Council member Brandon Betz has called for the closing of the jail, defunding the police, and holding the officers accountable.
"‘I Can’t Breathe’ wrongful death lawsuit filed against Lansing Police officers, City of Lansing, family demands justice" https://www.wilx.com/2020/10/26/buckfire-law-files-i-cant-breathe-wrongful-death-lawsuit-against-lansing-police-officers/
"Lansing councilman on inmate death suit: close jail, defund police, mayor resignation" https://www.wlns.com/news/michigan/lansing-councilman-on-inmate-death-suit-close-jail-defund-police-mayor-resignation/
"Lansing police officers in jail death lawsuit returned to work before external review ended" https://www.lansingstatejournal.com/story/news/2020/10/28/lansing-police-officers-jail-wrongful-death-lawsuit-back-work/3745749001/
COVID-19 Cases Rising Nationally and Globally
COVID-19 cases have been rising across the country, with nearly 100,000 new cases reported in a single day in the U.S. on October 30th, 2020, a record in the pandemic here. While some of the increase has been attributed to an increase in the number of tests, the increase in testing does not account for the fact that the percentage of positive tests is higher, nor does it explain the increase in hospitalizations. Since October 21, COVID-19 hospitalizations in Michigan have risen 44% in the span of 9 days, and while some hospitals seem to be better prepared in terms of PPE supplies, it is hard to predict how long hospitals will remain able to treat patients if hospitalizations continue to increase at such a rate. Other states, such as in Utah, have already set criteria for rationing medical care and supplies as hospitals continue to be overwhelmed, just as they were earlier on in the pandemic. While deaths from COVID-19 have not increased quite as much, they are also on the rise.
Internationally, COVID-19 cases also continue to surge, particularly European countries. In France, French President Emmanuel Macron confirmed a nationwide lockdown, with only schools and factories to remain open. In the UK, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced another month-long lockdown. In Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel announced a limited lockdown, closing bars, restaurants, and other leisure facilities and cultural venues.
As winter sets in and with cases surging, it is crucial that people adhere to social distancing, mask wearing, and hand washing. Strict public health measures and adherence have worked when implemented and followed, and if we all do not stick to these guidelines, we will soon be in a similar or worse position than we were in when this pandemic started.
Wearing Masks Could Save More Than 100,000 Lives
A recent modeling study published in the journal Nature Medicine suggested that if 95% of people in the U.S. wore masks in public, over 100,000 lives could be saved from COVID-19 from now until the end of February, 2021. With mask-wearing at 95% and shut-down measures in place, the study suggested that the total number of deaths due to COVID-19 would be at around 380,000 in the United States. The same study suggested two other worse scenarios, where if people were still wearing masks at the same rate we are now, and if states continue to impose certain shut down measures, the death toll could exceed 500,000 by the end of February, 2021. In that same time frame, if mask wearing remains unchanged and shut-down measures are repealed (like what is being seen in some states), that number jumps up to around 1 million deaths in the U.S. Currently, according to some surveys, less than half of Americans report that they always wear a mask in public.
Of note, the “49% of Americans wearing masks” point is out of date by now. Many other assumptions were also made in this study, however data is clear: mask wearing works and saves lives. Shut-down measures also save lives. As long as we adhere to public health measures to mitigate this pandemic, we can protect each other and ourselves, but ignoring these measures will come at an incredible cost to human life as we have already seen. While we are currently around 230,000 total deaths here in the U.S. since the pandemic started, that pales in comparison to our worst-case scenarios.
Outdoor Gatherings Near MSU Limited to 10 People
In order to mitigate the risk of COVID-19 transmission posed by large social gatherings near Michigan State University’s campus, the Ingham County Health Department has limited outdoor gatherings in parts of East Lansing to no more than 10 people (the area is . Wilful violations of the order will be considered a "misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment for not more than 6 months, or a fine of not more than $200, or both." Police can arrest someone if they witness a violation of if they have "reasonable cause to believe [an] individual has violated a rule or order." The order took effect when it was issued on Wednesday, and "will remain in effect until it is determined by the Ingham County Health Officer that the threat to the public's health and lives is no longer present." The area covered is roughly defined by a box drawn from campus to Burcham Drive, from Harrison Road to Hagadorn Road, and was determined based on a spatial analysis of noise ordinance violations.
"Outdoor Gatherings Restricted to 10 People in Parts of East Lansing"
“EMERGENCY ORDER (2020-25) FOR CONTROL OF EPIDEMIC OUTDOOR GATHERING SIZE IN AREAS OF EAST LANSING, MI"
Los Angeles County Publishes 2019 Hate Crimes Report
Since 1980, the Los Angeles County Commission on Human Relations has generated an annual report of hate crime data. They use this data to support programs that prevent and combat hate crimes. They also make this data publicly available to “better inform efforts to prevent, detect, report, investigate, and prosecute hate crimes.” Their recently published 2019 Hate Crime Report included several significant findings. Although the number of hate crimes remained “virtually unchanged” (524 hate crimes in 2019 compared to 523 in 2018), it is the “largest number reported since 2009” and hate crimes have seen a 36% increase since 2013. Hate crimes based on sexual orientation declined, but anti-trans crimes increased by 64% from 2018 to 2019
While data from 2020 are not included, the report provides interpretations of their findings within the context of unprecedented events such as “a pandemic that has ... sparked a backlash against Asians” and “grassroots political protests sparked by Black Lives Matter in the aftermath of the … choking death by police officers of George Floyd, a 46-year-old African American man in Minneapolis.” Los Angeles County is seeing the second largest number of reported hate crimes where anti-immigrant language is used. Most notably, after seeing a two-year decline, “white supremacist crimes jumped 38%.” Of all reported hate crimes, African Americans “were again the largest group of victims” where they constitute only 9% of the total population of the county.
It is important to note that hate crimes remain largely underreported. During 2011-2015, the U.S. Department of Justice revealed that 54% of hate-motivated incidents are not reported to law enforcement. There are a variety of reasons that could explain this: Victims of hate crimes might fear retaliation, believe they have no agency, or encounter language or cultural barriers to the justice system. For LGBTQA+ hate crime victims, a public report could potentially “out” them to their friends and family.
If there’s one important takeaway point from this report it is that there’s still a lot of work to be done to prevent and combat hate crimes. Hate crimes might have stagnated from 2018-2019 in Los Angeles, but the data shows that there’s a shift in the proportion of communities affected. It demonstrates how important it is to continue these kinds of data collecting efforts to better inform our efforts to address hate crimes.
QM Public Health Crisis Round-Up Team (in no particular order):
Mauricio Franco (he/him/his), M.S.- Global Medicine, Fourth-year medical student.
Andrew-Huy Dang (he/him/his), B.S. Microbiology, Fourth-year medical student
Wyatt Shoemaker (he/him/his), Fourth-year medical student.
Antonio Flores (he/him/his), Third-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, Second-year medical student.
Kryssia Campos (she/her/hers), Second-year medical student.
Alessandra Daskalakis (she/her/hers): Second-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), fourth-year PhD candidate in Writing and Rhetoric, 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