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!
Decriminalization and Legalization of Drugs Across the U.S.
In Tuesday’s election, five states elected to legalize recreational or medical marijuana. This brings the U.S. to a total of 18 states with legalized recreational marijuana and 36 states with legalized medical marijuana. In Oregon, citizens voted to decriminalize small amounts of so-called “hard drugs” including cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamines, using tax money from marijuana to support addiction services. Individuals caught with small amounts will be fined up to $100 but can waive that fee if assessed by a treatment center. In addition, Oregon elected to allow medicinal mushroom use.
This shift towards legalization and decriminalization is a necessary step towards ending the war on drugs. Since the 1970s, the United States has increased the control and criminalization of drugs through methods including mandatory minimum sentences and no-knock warrants. Black and Brown communities have been drastically and disproportionately affected, due to racial discrimination within the justice system and the country at large. In federal prison, nearly 80% of those charged with drug offenses are people of color. Research has shown that prosecutors push for mandatory minimum sentences twice as often for Black individuals versus white individuals for the same offenses. The “War on Drugs” has led to an incarceration rate that is five times higher for Black individuals than for white individuals. Taking these steps forward to stop the “War on Drugs,” which many see as the heart of the “New Jim Crow,” is necessary and long-awaited. It is projected that decriminalization in Oregon could lead to a 95% reduction in racial disparities in arrests and a 94% reduction in racial disparities in convictions. Additionally, this shift from addiction being considered a crime to addiction being considered as a health condition is a significant win for public health. In Portugal, where all drugs were decriminalized in 2001, the country has seen a dramatic reduction in HIV infections and drug-related deaths and has not seen an increase in drug use. Providing access to treatment and service instead of criminalization for drug use will improve society’s health and well-being. The changes we are seeing in the country towards decriminalizing drug use have the chance to be hugely impactful for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color communities.
Masks Do Not Cause Oxygen Deprivation
Masks continue to be the best way to protect yourself and others when you leave your house, and fears over potential mask-related dangers have proven time and again to be unfounded. Most recently, a research letter published last week in the Journal of the American Medical Association presented data on the impact of wearing a 3-layer face mask on oxygen saturation in adults 65 years or older. They found that wearing a mask does not present a risk of oxygen deprivation to older adults.
"Peripheral Oxygen Saturation in Older Persons Wearing Nonmedical Face Masks in Community Settings" https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/2772655
Nevada Provides Constitutional Protection for Non-Heterosexual Marriages
Additionally, Nevada became the first state in the U.S. to provide constitutional protections for all marriages, regardless of gender. The change removes the "existing provision recognizing marriage as only between a male person and a female person" and "require[s] the State of Nevada and its political subdivisions to recognize marriages of and issue marriage licenses to couples, regardless of gender," and "require[s] all legally valid marriages to be treated equally under the law." Religious organizations and clergy are granted an exception, allowing them to "refuse to perform a marriage and provide that no person is entitled to make any claim against them for exercising that right."
"Nevada becomes first state to constitutionally protect same-sex marriage" https://www.cbsnews.com/news/nevada-first-state-same-sex-marriage-constitution/
"Nevada Question 2, Marriage Regardless of Gender Amendment (2020)" https://ballotpedia.org/Nevada_Question_2,_Marriage_Regardless_of_Gender_Amendment_(2020)
LGBTQ+ Candidates Make History
Election Day brought a number of historic and notable wins for LGBTQ+ candidates around the United States:
New York: Ritchie Torres - 1st Queer, Afro-Latinx elected to U.S. House of Representatives
New York: Mondaire Jones - Openly Gay, Black, elected to U.S. House of Representatives
Delaware: Sarah McBride - 1st Openly Trans State Senator in U.S.
Colorado: Brianna Titone (Reelected) - Became 1st Trans State Lawmaker in 2018
Colorado: David Ortiz - 1st Openly Bi State Legislator
Florida: Michele Rayner - 1st Openly Queer Black Woman in State Legislature
Florida: Shevrin Jones - 1st Openly LGBTQ+ State Senator
Georgia: Kim Jackson - 1st Openly LGBTQ+ State Senator
Georgia: Sam Park (Reelected) - 1st Openly Gay Man in State Legislature
Hawaii: Adrian Tam - Only Openly LGBTQ+ State Legislator
Kansas: Sharice Davids (Reelected) - Became 1st Openly LGBTQ+ Native American in Congress in 2018
Kansas: Stephanie Byers - 1st Openly Trans Person of Color Elected to State Legislature in U.S.
New Hampshire: Gerri Cannon (Reelected) and Lisa Bunker (Reelected) - Became 1st Openly Trans State Legislators in 2018
New Mexico: Roger Montoya and Brittney Barreras - 1st Openly LGBTQ+ Members of State House
New York: Jabari Brisport - 1st Black, Queer State Senator
Oklahoma: Mauree Turner - 1st Openly Non-Binary State Legislator in U.S.
Puerto Rico: Ana Irma Rivera Lassén - 1st Openly LGBTQ+ Senator
Puerto Rico: Jorge Báez Pagán - LGTBQ+, House of Representatives
Rhode Island: Tiara Mack - 1st Queer Person of Color in State Legislature
Tennessee: Torrey Harris and Eddie Mannis - 1st Openly LGBTQ+ State Legislators
Vermont: Taylor Small - 1st Trans State Legislator
California: Christy Holstege - 1st Openly Bisexual Mayor in U.S.
Puerto Rico: Edgardo Cruz Velez - Gay, Elected Mayor of Guánica
Puerto Rico: Miguel "Ricky" Méndez - LGBTQ+, Elected Mayor of Isabela
"Here Are All the Major LGBTQ+ Wins and Losses in the 2020 Election" https://www.them.us/story/2020-election-live-updates
COVID-19 Cases Still Rising in Michigan
As was projected, the number of COVID-19 cases has increased in Michigan, bringing the state back to being considered in an “active or imminent outbreak.”
On Nov. 2, the Detroit News published key updates related to the pandemic in Michigan:
Michigan added 6,709 new cases of coronavirus and 17 more deaths on Monday,Nov. 2, after the Halloween weekend and a day before Election Day.
Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, the state's chief medical executive, said Friday,Oct. 30, that she's "very concerned" about what she's seeing across Michigan…Wearing masks and avoiding high-risk activities like large indoor gatherings remains important if we are going to bring this curve down."
As of Monday,Nov. 2, the state reported that 1,701 people are hospitalized with confirmed cases of the virus. Of those hospitalized, 180 people are on ventilators and 428 are in intensive care units. The state also reported 248 people hospitalized with suspected virus cases
As of Saturday,Oct. 31, Michigan considered 121,093 people to have recovered from the virus to date.
Michigan's K-12 schools and higher education institutions had 45 new outbreaks as of Thursday, the state Department of Health and Human Services reported.
According to COVIDACTNOW.org:
As of November 06, 2020, the number of daily new cases in Ingham County has reached a critical level. Over the last week, Ingham County, Michigan has averaged 81 new confirmed cases per day (27.7 for every 100,000 residents). The current infection rate (how many people each infected person spreads the virus to) for Ingham county is 1.26 and continues to rise.
At the state level, the numbers have increased at alarming rates. Over the last week, Michigan has averaged 4,152 new confirmed cases per day (41.6 for every 100,000 residents). Our infection rate of 1.26 which is considered high-risk. As of now, the trend is plateauing but could easily keep rising. ICU (Intensive Care Unit) use is still at a “low” level but continues to rise. This is a major issue as the burden on hospitals during flu season is a factor that many medical providers already consider to be a concern.
A message to remember: We are not in the clear and our community members continue to be at risk. We can all do our part by wearing a mask and continuing social distancing practices.
People with Down Syndrome 10 Times More Likely To Die From COVID-19
A recent study out of the United Kingdom published in the Annals of Internal Medicine suggested that individuals with Down syndrome are at much higher risk of hospitalization and death from COVID-19. The study showed that individuals with Down syndrome are 4 times more likely to be hospitalized due to COVID-19 and 10 times more likely to die from the virus. This was after adjusting for some other known risk factors such as cardiovascular and pulmonary diseases, which the paper states somewhat contributed to the increased risk but did not explain all of it.
The research comes with a growing body of evidence suggesting that people with certain developmental disabilities are at greater risk of dying from COVID-19. In particular, this study indicates that those with Down syndrome are at a significantly greater risk of dying from COVID-19 compared to other intellectual disabilities.
This research highlights another group at elevated risk from COVID-19, and indicates that those with Down syndrome or those who know somebody with Down syndrome should take extra precautions.
We believe it was also important to highlight that it is not yet clear why those with Down syndrome are at higher risk of hospitalization and death from COVID-19. A separate study looking at data from several states across the U.S., including California, Colorado, New York, and Pennsylvania, also found that people with intellectual and developmental disabilities were more likely to die from COVID-19, but that these populations were no more likely to contract COVID-19 versus the general population (i.e., the disease is not more likely to be contracted, but it is more deadly if it is). It is suggested in one of the studies mentioned above that COVID-19 may cause a greater risk of organ issues in people with Down syndrome, but this is not definitive and requires more research. Whether it is a biological, social, or some other cause that puts those with Down syndrome at greater risk of dying from COVID-19, we must continue to do our part to protect those most vulnerable and each other as this pandemic continues.
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